December 2nd, 2009
06:40 PM ET
3 months ago

Rumsfeld says Obama made 'bald misstatement'

Former Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld said he never received a request for more troops to fight the Taliban in Afghanistan.
Former Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld said he never received a request for more troops to fight the Taliban in Afghanistan.

Washington (CNN) – Former Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld criticized President Obama's assertion Tuesday that the Bush administration ignored requests for more troops to battle the Taliban, declaring the president's remark made during his address on Afghanistan a "bald misstatement."

Rumsfeld said Wednesday that during his time as Bush's Secretary of Defense, he was "not aware of a single request of that nature."

"The President's assertion does a disservice to the truth and, in particular, to the thousands of men and women in uniform who have fought, served and sacrificed in Afghanistan," Rumsfeld said in a statement. "In the interest of better understanding the President's announcement last night, I suggest that the Congress review the President's assertion in the forthcoming debate and determine exactly what requests were made, who made them, and where and why in the chain of command they were denied."

But Admiral Mike Mullen, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff since October of 2007, said Wednesday that the former top commander in Afghanistan, General David McKiernan, had requested more troops during the previous administration, but they were sent to Iraq instead.


"In my tenure here, Gen. McKiernan specifically had a fairly substantial request for upwards of 20,000 forces which we couldn't meet because they just weren't there. They were in Iraq," Mullen said. "I spoke out early that Afghanistan was under resourced... We didn't have them because they were pushed to Iraq. We didn't have the flexibility to move them. That was the priority of a previous president. We do what the president says and that's what we did."

In his speech, Obama said his predecessors "repeatedly" ignored requests for more troops and said that this is one reason why he decided to send more.

"Commanders in Afghanistan repeatedly asked for support to deal with the reemergence of the Taliban, but these reinforcements did not arrive," Obama said Tuesday night. "And that's why, shortly after taking office, I approved a longstanding request for more troops."

soundoff (298 Responses)
  1. Randy, San Francisco

    Rumsfeld is trying to cover up his incompetence and malfeasance in the prosecution of the two wars. Like Cheney, he should have been charged for war crimes against humanity.

    December 2, 2009 05:14 pm at 5:14 pm |
  2. jeff

    You have to be kidding me. The man who for the last two years has been negative about fighting wars now will send more of our men and women over and has the gaul to blame the former President who kept us safe. Under this president we have had a number of terrorist type attacks on our soil from Ft Hood to the state of Washington. When will the country say ENOUGH with a president who just keeps filling the airways with nothing.

    December 2, 2009 05:14 pm at 5:14 pm |
  3. Mike in Oahu

    Thank you for your service Mr. Rumsfeld, now go away!

    December 2, 2009 05:14 pm at 5:14 pm |
  4. Capricorn7NC

    Rumsfeld and anybody else in the Bush Administration should just shut up. I saw on CNN where troops in Afghanistan said, on tv, they needed more resources throughout the past eight years. Maybe he should rethink asking for that information, because I am sure it is available and will more him look even less credible than he already is.

    December 2, 2009 05:15 pm at 5:15 pm |
  5. Jack M. Lowe

    Mullen or Rumsfeld...who would be the liar...I pick RUMSFELD, remember the one who told us about the WMDs, "We know where they are. They're in the area around Tikrit and Baghdad and east, west, south and north somewhat."

    December 2, 2009 05:15 pm at 5:15 pm |
  6. MCD, SF, CA

    Looks like he is just trying to distract people from thinking about what a mess he and the Bush Admin made of the whole situation. In his speech, President Obama made it clear that the preivous admin had dropped the ball on Afghanistan. Like a magician, Rumsfeld is just saying "don't look over there, look over here! HERE!" Same old tricks.

    December 2, 2009 05:15 pm at 5:15 pm |
  7. BKrause

    Rumsfeld is not the standard by which truth is measured in this family.

    December 2, 2009 05:16 pm at 5:16 pm |
  8. TMH

    Not only was the last administration incompetent, but also have a memory issue as well. How can anyone of good conscious listen to a word this man has to say? This is a person the insulted our closest allies and friends, exaggerated about weapons of mass destruction, and the cost of the war in treasure and the priceless lives of our boys and girls who died there. Instead of capturing or killing Bin Laden and pacifying Afghanistan, they went after some fool’s errand in Iraq that has been deemed by the world as unwise, imprudent, and unjust. This “gentleman”, along with Cheney, is wholly responsible for the degradation of America’s standing in the world and have left us all worst off.

    December 2, 2009 05:16 pm at 5:16 pm |
  9. dave

    what about the "mistruths you all spouted to justify starting the war?!

    December 2, 2009 05:17 pm at 5:17 pm |
  10. Mark

    They all beat up on Rumsfeld. Now, he can dish it back to Obama. Take it to em, Rumsfeld.

    December 2, 2009 05:18 pm at 5:18 pm |
  11. ken

    well look who crawled out of his hole.you can go back to wherever you've been hiding for the past few years. there's no one here to torture.

    December 2, 2009 05:18 pm at 5:18 pm |
  12. Steve

    Rumsfeld should just bow his head in shame and walk away.

    December 2, 2009 05:18 pm at 5:18 pm |
  13. chris

    Don Rumsfeld is the best not as good as VP Dick Cheany but good. Now that President Obama is in office it is comical to see him try to blame everything but the Lindbergh baby on 43. Palin 2012

    December 2, 2009 05:18 pm at 5:18 pm |
  14. Gary

    Hey Donald, you have been pretty quiet since January. Keep it that way. We don't care what you think, we are living the nightmare you helped create. Leave the stupid comments to Cheney. He does it better.
    They are Clarevoint Amnesiacts. They can predict what is going to happen in the future but convieniently forgot what they did in the past.

    PS. Dick Cheney is the most dispicable person in this country. He is wrong and always has been. He has American blood on his hands.

    December 2, 2009 05:19 pm at 5:19 pm |
  15. Larry

    Cheney and Rumsfeld should be on trial for treason.

    December 2, 2009 05:19 pm at 5:19 pm |
  16. Patsy, Texas

    Donald Rumsfeld certainly knows all about "disservice to the
    truth.....and.... the men and women in uniform". He, Bush, Cheney,
    and all those members of the Bush Administration from the
    so-called "think tank" known as the American Enterprise Institute
    are the epitome of disservice. Isn't it interesting that these
    arrogant blowfish are STILL talking for George W. Bush. They are
    so busy defending the indefensible, that they can't see the forest for
    the trees. At least, something is being tried that should have been
    done seven years ago. Wish they had stayed in the "tank".
    Most don't know what a REAL tank is....militarily. Thank you.

    December 2, 2009 05:19 pm at 5:19 pm |
  17. Jasmine in Germany

    Donald Rumsfeld dares to make a public statement regarding this matter? Rumsfeld, Cheney, and G. W. Bush should rather be making their statements in a federal courthouse (as defendants).

    December 2, 2009 05:20 pm at 5:20 pm |
  18. snowflake

    So what makes Rummsfield think ANYBODY would believe that HE, BUSH, CHENEY, AND THE WHOLE BUSH ADMINISTRATION could ever tell the TRUTH!! You'd think this guy would want to stay under a rock forever! But like Cheney, his "narcisstic ego", just has to have its say!!!

    December 2, 2009 05:20 pm at 5:20 pm |
  19. T.T. Jones

    I still can't believe this president is actually sending more troups to Afganistan. I did not believe I would ever say this, but I should have just voted for McCain, at least I knew he was a hawk. Now comes the new prez as a hawk in dove's clothing. This guy needs to get a grip on reality and quite allowing the military to continue to kill innocent men, women and children throughout the world.

    Pull out of the Afganistan and Iraq now! Violence does not spawn peace. All we are saying, is give peace a chance.

    December 2, 2009 05:21 pm at 5:21 pm |
  20. terry,va

    Why would Rumsfield say this if it wasn't true? Defense Sec. Gates has changed his tone also. Anyone that gets around Obummie has no clue about what is fact or fiction. Check the requests and we will know. Why be politically correct and say bald misstatement. Where I come from a liar is a liar and labeled as such.

    December 2, 2009 05:22 pm at 5:22 pm |
  21. Art

    That picture in this article of Bush & Rumsfeld is certainly worth a thousand words. These arrogant liars of the past Bush era still can't admit a mistake. The whole lot of them , Bush , Cheney and Rumsfeld should be tried for treason against the American people for starting a war in Iraq by lying to the American public. They owe an appology to the families of all those that have died in Iraq , at the very least . Now Obama has to try and concentrate on Afghanistan where that should have happened 8 yeras ago. Bush cronies just shut up and fade away for all the worlds sake.

    December 2, 2009 05:22 pm at 5:22 pm |
  22. Big_D

    Bush left us with almost 11 trillion in debt and two wars and a narco-state in Afghanistan. The only thing Bush and the GOP have done is prove that they cannot win a war, cannot finish a war, and cannot pay for the war they started. The GOP should have to pay for this disastrous quagmire they left. You can’t just call a taxi to leave Afghanistan so hopefully the troops Obama has sent are to cover our back as we LEAVE. The Taliban were barely left in Afghanistan when Bush eventually acted after 911. They have been and remain primarily in Pakistan and other sympathetic countries.

    December 2, 2009 05:22 pm at 5:22 pm |
  23. R

    Mr. Rumsfeld, I realize there's a lot you have forgotten since your time serving as Defense Secretary – much of which by design, I'm sure. HOWEVER, how can you forget that multiple requests were made to send more troops to Afghanistan and that they were funneled to Iraq instead?

    December 2, 2009 05:23 pm at 5:23 pm |
  24. Ross Webb

    Go away you did your damage.

    December 2, 2009 05:23 pm at 5:23 pm |
  25. SonnyRey. Lanham, Maryland

    Mr. Rumsfeld, President Obama does not make "bald misstatement(s.)" The President was truthful in his statement as you took your eye off the ball to accommodate Ex-President Bush's personal agenda. You have done enough damage to my country in that failed endeavor. Now please just go away.

    December 2, 2009 05:23 pm at 5:23 pm |
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