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. rumble

    Rumsfeld and Cheney should shut up and be grateful they don't live in a prison cell. That's where they belong after the lies, corruption and "misstatements" that led is into a costly war against the wrong target.

    December 2, 2009 05:56 pm at 5:56 pm |
  2. Dallasite

    Rumsfeld's memory is clearly east, west, north and south of the truth. I'm wondering how we survived at all during the reign of these idiots.

    December 2, 2009 05:57 pm at 5:57 pm |
  3. Enough already

    I trust the General over Rumsfeld any day.

    Rumsfeld (and Cheney) should be in jail for the injustice they imposed on our great nation.

    December 2, 2009 05:58 pm at 5:58 pm |
  4. politiciansareruiningus

    Rumsfeld is the last person that should be offering any advice on troop movements or military decisions. While most people loathe GWB and his administration...I think in the end, history will see his deeds as necessary evils. Some of the bad choices made in Iraq and early Afghanistan are still causing ripples today. Rumsfeld is the one that dropped the ball on hunting the Taliban leaders and Bin Laden in the Tora Bora region. If anything, he should retire quietly and hope that we forget his bad mistakes and lack of action. This man was a pathetic Secretary of Defense...all in a time when he had pretty much carte blanche from the Patriot Act and other Executive branch powers. He had the opportunity to crush the enemy in a time when warmongers ran the show...and he came up short. That is sad.

    December 2, 2009 05:59 pm at 5:59 pm |
  5. Lee in TN

    Rumsfeld is another Bush Aide with no credibility whatsoever. He was part of the deception that deserted Afganistan, to carry on a personal war of choice in Iraq.

    December 2, 2009 05:59 pm at 5:59 pm |
  6. Enough

    It should come as no surprise........Obama and his misstatements are an every day occurrence.

    December 2, 2009 06:00 pm at 6:00 pm |
  7. Steve in Denver

    Rummy: You failed to bring the war to a close for FIVE YEARS. You bungled this war when it was ours to win. Now, you're telling someone else how to win it?

    You have no room to talk. You were in charge of this war and Iraq, and completely bungled them both. If you had done something like Obama is – studied the issues, planned the war, planned an exit strategy, and supplied troops when requested, we would have captured bin laden in 2001, and we'd be at peace.

    You say you didn't ever turn down a request for troops? How about the well documented calls for more troops in Tora Bora in 2001 when bin laden could have been caught, but you all turned them down so the Afghan army could catch him.

    In two words, rummy, YOU LIE!!!

    December 2, 2009 06:00 pm at 6:00 pm |
  8. PH

    So who do we believe? Admiral Mike Mullen or Former Sec of Def Rumsfeld?
    My bet is Admiral Mike Mullen.

    December 2, 2009 06:01 pm at 6:01 pm |
  9. Steve in Denver

    Rummy: Do you have any self awareness? You are the only defense secretary in US history to have started two wars which the country did not bring to a successful conclusion.

    How do you dare criticize ANYONE for war strategy? You have no credibility whatsoever.

    December 2, 2009 06:03 pm at 6:03 pm |
  10. MoBear

    Rumsfield – "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,"

    Why is it every time someone in the Bush administration are shown or proven to be inept about something these has-beens have to use the "disservice to the troops" card? There is nothing more pathetic then to continually hear that. They are the ones who sent these brave soldiers to their graves. That's where the disservice to the troops lies.

    December 2, 2009 06:04 pm at 6:04 pm |
  11. David lambert

    Who should we believe-not Rumsfeld?

    December 2, 2009 06:04 pm at 6:04 pm |
  12. Jonathan

    Sorry Mr. Rumsfield, it appears that you are the only one that's guilty of bald "misstatements". Does he seriously expect Americans to believe that Afghanistan suddenly needs 50,000 more troops in Obama's first year (the 21,000 he approved in his first month and the 30,000 more this month) but was doing just fine with the 20-30,000 troops it had before that? Oh, wait, Afghanistan wasn't doing just fine....

    December 2, 2009 06:05 pm at 6:05 pm |
  13. Frisky Alexander

    Rumsfeld is a bumbling loser whose credibility is completely in the toilet as far as I'm concerned. He did NOTHING right, but he did it all with bravado and arrogance.

    December 2, 2009 06:05 pm at 6:05 pm |
  14. Sean

    Rumsfeld has no business lecturing anyone on the subject of "truth". Especially since this very report provides examples to support Obama's assertion. Seems to me that Rumsfeld is the one struggling to keep the facts straight.

    December 2, 2009 06:05 pm at 6:05 pm |
  15. Andy Ray

    As if anyone from the Bush Administration has the credibility to call someone a liar! That is laughable. And that's exactly what Rumsfeld is doing.

    December 2, 2009 06:06 pm at 6:06 pm |
  16. Bill

    And anything Mr Rumsfeld has to say is relevant because...?

    December 2, 2009 06:08 pm at 6:08 pm |
  17. Dan, TX

    We should make all political decisions out of anger with a knee jerk reaction. Thoughtfulness is for pussies.

    December 2, 2009 06:09 pm at 6:09 pm |
  18. JILL

    just another Republican who thinks he's GOD.

    December 2, 2009 06:09 pm at 6:09 pm |
  19. Kate in San Diego

    When anyone from the Bush adminstration accuses someone of lying, we ought to listen to them. They are, after all, the experts on lying, corruption, and deceit. Weapons of mass destruction, anyone?

    December 2, 2009 06:10 pm at 6:10 pm |
  20. Layne

    Who give a crap about what Rumsfield has to say. He's a twit.

    December 2, 2009 06:10 pm at 6:10 pm |
  21. Jim

    Another loyal bushie, another lie.

    Nothing changes with them.

    December 2, 2009 06:10 pm at 6:10 pm |
  22. Frank

    Why in the world would it make any difference what they think? They put this country into bankrupcy, killed 4,000+ kids for what? Now they make sense to who and covered by CNN?

    I'm thinking the trouble makers are the major media outlets.

    December 2, 2009 06:11 pm at 6:11 pm |
  23. Lois

    These guys need to just fade into the background. Quickly! Who would believe Rumsfeld?? I will take the word of the military anyday over this shyster. I am so sick of people fighting against everything Obama is trying to do, why not work WITH him and get these stupid wars overwith. Not one ot the "tongues" who are wagging now said a WORD, NOT ONE WORD when Bush and company started all this mess. In fact Republicams were calling ANYONE against the war – unpatriotic! Knock it off before you ruin this country all the way!!

    December 2, 2009 06:12 pm at 6:12 pm |
  24. A.B.

    Somehow, I doubt that President Obama made a mistatement that Rumsfeld accused him of making. However, there is no doubt that George W. Bush, Dick Cheyney and Mr. Rumsfeld, made a mess of the war in Iraq and Afghanistan and left that mess for President Obama to clean up!! In light of this fact, George W. Bush at least knows enough to keep his mouth shut. I think that Cheyney and Rumsfeld should follow suit and do likewise.

    December 2, 2009 06:13 pm at 6:13 pm |
  25. andrewstl

    who cares din!

    what a shock a republican getting ticked off. please we have heard enough from the last administration. actaully before you all left wew heard enough. go rub on eachother somewhere and tell your lies

    December 2, 2009 06:13 pm at 6:13 pm |
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