December 2nd, 2009
06:40 PM ET
7 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. Diana

    And we're supposed to believe the person who lied us into the war in the first place. Go back under your rock and take Cheney with you.

    December 2, 2009 05:24 pm at 5:24 pm |
  2. George Holman

    Give these guys from the previous administration credit. They always fire back in their attempt to re-write history in their own image. Unfortunately, it is the only way they can attempt to preserve their failed legacy. All of America was behind the Bush administration in attacking our enemies in Afghanistan, but the incredibly weak argument to also attack Iraq was misguided, contrived and forced on the American people through a series of lies and distortions all designed to make a case against Iraq and Sadam. As a result of these lies and misguided blunders Afghanistan languished and degenerated into the mess that it is today. Hopefully, our current and future commanders in chief will be more thoughtful and pensive prior to sending our troops into ill-conceived wars and conflicts in the future.

    December 2, 2009 05:24 pm at 5:24 pm |
  3. Darla (Edmonton, Canada)

    Anything said by Mr Rumsfeld (or any other member of the Bush administration) ... is probably a "bald misstatement"! Why anyone believes anything said by any of these yahoos is beyond me. They're all a bunch of hypocrites and liars.

    December 2, 2009 05:24 pm at 5:24 pm |
  4. Arthur

    Stupid! It is oil!

    December 2, 2009 05:24 pm at 5:24 pm |
  5. Felonious Monk

    The terrorists won the second we started emptying our pockets to fight them.
    The plan is to drain the American economy and collapse America economically.
    They want to bankrupt America, and are doing so quite successfully.
    What happens when the money is gone?

    December 2, 2009 05:24 pm at 5:24 pm |
  6. Mike in Dallas

    I still cannot figure out why the top figures of the Bush Administration have such a problem with telling the truth.

    December 2, 2009 05:24 pm at 5:24 pm |
  7. Obama Will Prevail

    Who cares about you and what your say, RumsFAILED...You are irrelavant and what you say means NOTHING...

    December 2, 2009 05:24 pm at 5:24 pm |
  8. Spunja

    Why the heck dumb doh-doh Donald Rumsfeild is even talking? That f-ing moron is the reason why we are behind in Iraq & Afghanistan. I distinctly remember the troop increased & worsening condition in Afghanistan. He was a total failure. Our ex-president took little too long & too late to fire the incompetent defense secretary. Should have never hired an arrogant person like him to begin with & if he did make that mistake, he should have immediately fired him after Abu Ghraib scandal.

    December 2, 2009 05:26 pm at 5:26 pm |
  9. This man is a criminal

    Isnt Rumsfeld part of the aministration that created and then committed the US to the illegal war in Iraq?

    What BALD MISSTATEMENT!? you Rumsfeld, you are the one who has done the disservice to our men and women of the Armed forces. You shall reap the whirlwind rumsfeld, justice shall be done. Until then keep your hands in your pockets......they're dripping all over you.

    December 2, 2009 05:26 pm at 5:26 pm |
  10. Carnell From The Motor City!

    Donald Rumsfeld Has Absolutly No Credibility, Along With Any Fool Who Believes Him. The War In Afghanistan Back Around 2003 Was Reprioritized To Fight A War In Iraq. That Alone Is An Undisputed Fact, And If Mr. Rumsfeld Doesn't Like It...That's Just Too Badd!

    December 2, 2009 05:28 pm at 5:28 pm |
  11. rednekhank

    Well, Don, sometimes you go to war with the President you have rather than the President you want.

    Just be happy you're not in prison for war crimes.

    December 2, 2009 05:30 pm at 5:30 pm |
  12. Jim in Washington

    Oh my oh my. Poor Rummy. He may be the victom of bald misstatements! Say it ain't so Barack.

    December 2, 2009 05:31 pm at 5:31 pm |
  13. Nathan,

    I thought Rumsfeld was in prison. What kind of law and order do we have in theis country. First we find out that Huckabee is letting cop killers out of jail and now we find out that Rumsfeld is still roaming the streets. Next you'll be telling me that Dick Cheney and George Bush are on vacation in Wyoming and Texas and not at Leavenworth.

    December 2, 2009 05:31 pm at 5:31 pm |
  14. McNeil

    Rumsfeld should be prosecuted as a war criminal. No one would be surprised if he is arrested when he travels overseas. He is done, we do not want to hear from him.

    December 2, 2009 05:31 pm at 5:31 pm |
  15. Barbara

    I am tired of negative comments made by Donald Rumsfeld , Dick chaney and John Mccain. They are no longer in office why do they continue to make comments. Of course McCain wants it said that he would have done beter than President Obama. Our focus now should be on the advancement of our country, NOT on President Obama. They should always ask themselves,"What did I do to help?"

    December 2, 2009 05:31 pm at 5:31 pm |
  16. Eric

    Why is former Defense Secretary Rumsfield so quick to go on the defensive? In my experience, persons who immediately and with very little hesitation or thought, take a defensive posture are feeling just a bit guilty over something.

    Bush's Administration wanted very little to do with Afghanistan (thus the low level of comprehensive planning in that theater), instead they focused on Iraq and standing behind their commitment to rid the world of the root of Al Queda- Saddam Hussein.

    "Bald misstatement"? I'm guessing Mr Rumsfield has spent too much time around the former president as he has soaked up the Bush-isms that made W a laughing stock of the English speaking word.

    December 2, 2009 05:31 pm at 5:31 pm |
  17. Charlotte

    Who cares what rewrite of history Rummy wants to make? He will 'not remember' anything whose memory would point out the faillings of his and BushCheney's policies. He will try to spin everything to make it look like he and his henchmen were always right. Pointless and false.

    December 2, 2009 05:32 pm at 5:32 pm |
  18. Brenda Jo its_bj

    When will Obama stop blaming everyone for everything...when will he finally decide to be a man and stand up and say 'whatever it takes WE as Americans will do it, yesterday is gone, let's work on today and the future of America to have victory'
    No this coward is always hiding and pointing fingers. He is no man and is no leader, he is a joke and America is being laughed at. He will destroy us, just so he can say 'it's Bush's fault' when it's his friends and his ideas that are going to kill us.
    OBAMA is destroying America....ppl get your constitution out and start reading it...stop listening to lies and read for yourself.

    December 2, 2009 05:33 pm at 5:33 pm |
  19. Objective Thinking

    Because the unproven statement was made by Obama, the "Truth Squad" will not be moving forward with any investigation. If another statement had been made criticizing Obama with an equal lack of proof, the "Truth Squad" would all over it.

    December 2, 2009 05:34 pm at 5:34 pm |
  20. warren smith

    i have come to the conclusion that it doeth not matter what the president does he would be wrong

    and that is a shame

    December 2, 2009 05:34 pm at 5:34 pm |
  21. andy

    Rumsfeld is too stupid and delusional to even be ashamed. This is as opposed to Rove et. al. who know better but are simply evil.

    December 2, 2009 05:35 pm at 5:35 pm |
  22. cane pazzo

    Isn't interesting that Rumsfeld's memory is perfect when it's in his interest, but not so perfect when it's not. His modus operandi was light, fast, and small as if that's all there was to war. Rumsfeld's decisions were central in the failures in Afghanistan and Iraq. Bonehead Bush's complicity cannot be overstated. These men were not evil just supremely incompetent.

    December 2, 2009 05:36 pm at 5:36 pm |
  23. mjm

    "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"

    Funny, because McKiernan was in charge of troops in Iraq, not Afghanistan. He did request 17000 troops for Iraq in 2003, but Rumsfeld turned him down. That's not the 20000 referenced above.

    McKiernan was in charge of troops in Afghanistan from 2008-09.

    Mullen was appointed in 2007, so he wouldn't have known what Rumsfeld approved or rejected...would he?

    December 2, 2009 05:37 pm at 5:37 pm |
  24. Kendall

    Why is Rumsfeld talking wasn't he fired as Sect. of Def.

    December 2, 2009 05:38 pm at 5:38 pm |
  25. Andrew Rice

    Rummy's back. If he had good judgment, he would have to question whether he had any judgment. Has this man (and Cheney) no shame - look at what his (their) actions have wrought!

    December 2, 2009 05:40 pm at 5:40 pm |
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