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. John J, IN

    Let's see...Conservatives slam Obama saying that he should listen to the Generals and not politicians....so I will take their advice and choose to believe the military in this case, who says they DID request the troops and did not get them, over someone who proved to be a train wreck of a SecDef, who lead us into this mess in the first place.

    December 2, 2009 06:37 pm at 6:37 pm |
  2. Dave

    Rumsfeld just didn't "hear" McKiernan. Rumsfeld is ideologically committed to a "light footprint" militray strategy. That is why he repeated pushed Gen Frank to reduce troop numbers for the initial invasion of Iraq and halted troop deployments to Iraq after the fall of Baghdad. That left the military unable to guard ammunition depots, power generation stations or other key installations and deal with the insurgency. Rumsfeld abused the military by failing to provide armored humvees and inadequate body armor more than 2 years later. It is galling to hear Rumsfeld and Cheney talk about supporting the military when they failed to do so when it really counted. No wonder Colin Powelll couldn't stand those guys.

    December 2, 2009 06:38 pm at 6:38 pm |
  3. Dumbasrocks Rummy

    Please. If a FAILURE of the likes of Rumsfeld is criticizing Obama, Obama must be doing a great job. Period.

    December 2, 2009 06:39 pm at 6:39 pm |
  4. timz

    As you know, there are known unknowns and unknown unknowns and then there are former Secretaries of Defense who lie through their teeth.

    December 2, 2009 06:39 pm at 6:39 pm |
  5. SCOTT

    Isn't this the same two guys that opened up this country to an attack on 9/11? Why should we care what they say?

    December 2, 2009 06:41 pm at 6:41 pm |
  6. Dave, the truthteller

    Oh, how dare Rumsfeld question Obama. He must be racist! Expecting facts from Obama to backup his rhetoric? How not cool!

    December 2, 2009 06:41 pm at 6:41 pm |
  7. Jon

    My my my. Somebody's a liar...

    December 2, 2009 06:41 pm at 6:41 pm |
  8. GOPer

    These words coming from a senior leader that drove a bus into a ditch is now wanting to give commentary on driving a bus. His contribution and words are hollow and match his value to our country, useless and pathetic

    December 2, 2009 06:42 pm at 6:42 pm |
  9. Rummie

    Dumsfeld has so much credibility. Oh and BTW there's proof the request was ignored, the one Obama referred to specifically was fter Rummie got shatcinned. Maybe he should have put a few bible passages on his statement so W would rubber stamp it

    December 2, 2009 06:44 pm at 6:44 pm |
  10. nate

    Rumsfeld is an expert on afghanistan.

    "We do know of certain knowledge that he [Osama Bin Laden] is either in Afghanistan, or in some other country, or dead."- Don Rumsfeld

    December 2, 2009 06:46 pm at 6:46 pm |
  11. Edwin

    Rumsfeld or Obama, who do I believe? Hmmm... tough choice (NOT!).

    December 2, 2009 06:47 pm at 6:47 pm |
  12. NK

    I don't believe anything this liar says

    December 2, 2009 06:47 pm at 6:47 pm |
  13. ERP

    Cheney, Wolfowitz and now Rumsfeld....all "honourable men" and reckless cowboys who came close to leading America and the world to the precipice. They should be ashamed to criticize a President of great intelligence and integrity who at least tries his best to do the right thing. In a more just world all these three gentlemen would be tried for war crimes and crimes against humanity.

    December 2, 2009 06:48 pm at 6:48 pm |
  14. What???

    Come on Donny.....! What's with the 1st public words from you since failing miserably in both wars and being fired? Are you trying to re-write the facts?

    You'd better find that hole you crawled out of before someone fills it and assigns you to stand before the american people and "splain lucy splain"

    December 2, 2009 06:48 pm at 6:48 pm |
  15. Joe the Comment Leaver

    And yet we have military leaders on the record saying they made such requests/ Who are you going to believe - A Bush crony or someone serving his country who rose to the highest levels on their merits?

    December 2, 2009 06:49 pm at 6:49 pm |
  16. Brandonious

    I imagine the things that Donald Rumsfeld was not aware of during the previous administration could fill several libraries. You Mr. Rumsfeld do a disservice to anyone who has fought both in Iraq and Afghanistan. You continue to do that disservice in your pathetic attempts to sweep the incompetance of yourself and the rest of the Bush administration under the rug. Obama is trying to clean up the mess you helped create Mr. Rumsfeld. Why don't you get behind him instead of lying to try to save face. That would be a refreshing change of pace.

    December 2, 2009 06:49 pm at 6:49 pm |
  17. jeff

    Who cares what that war criminal Bush's cronies have to say??I want to know why Bush and his crew are not in prison for crimes against humanity,murder.and fraud!!

    December 2, 2009 06:50 pm at 6:50 pm |
  18. ben

    these neocons will say anything, no matter how much of a lie it is, and the sheep will listen to everything fox tells them

    December 2, 2009 06:50 pm at 6:50 pm |
  19. 40+ expat wasp with kids

    Rumsfeld should concern himself from comment on world affairs given his own intentional falsehoods claimed under oath to justify his high-priced war toys and prove we could fight battles in two theatres with a volunteer and privatized armed forces: all of which have proven to have been reckless, if not criminal.

    I hope other Bush hacks can come forward and remind us how much better we are off under Obama's leadership... Dick Cheney? Are you there?

    December 2, 2009 06:50 pm at 6:50 pm |
  20. sally

    "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.

    What nonsense. Our military service men and women were precisely the ones let down by the failure of the Bush administration to focus on the war and their needs in Afganistan.

    December 2, 2009 06:50 pm at 6:50 pm |
  21. Nancy Larson

    I don't think there are many people who care what Donald Rumsfeld thinks.He is extremely arrogant and would never admit to mistakes in the Afghan war. The bottom line is that we neglected Afghanistan to find a totally unnecessary war in Iraq. Now we have to pay the price to finish the job that was put on the back burner.

    December 2, 2009 06:51 pm at 6:51 pm |
  22. Charles Green

    A Bush cabinet member accusing someone of not telling the truth now that's a good one. The Bush administration was 8 years of constant fear mongering and lies When our armed forces had Bin Laden cornered at Tora Bora Bush pulled outand betrayed every soilder and citizen in this country to attack Iraq for personnel reasons. Has anyone tracked the money for the Iraq war I'm betting you will find lots of it found it's way into the Bush Cheney family pockets.Why are'nt these criminals in jail?

    December 2, 2009 06:53 pm at 6:53 pm |
  23. Jeanne H.

    Wow! I hope Rumsfeld can sleep well at night (and Bush too). I've read over and over that more troops were needed in Afghanistan, and here Mr Rumsfeld claims he never heard of such request? Is he saying the generals lied? If anyone is lying, most likely it would be somebody from the Bush administration. Blatant, bold-faced lies...

    December 2, 2009 06:53 pm at 6:53 pm |
  24. Gorbashov - Long Beach, Ca.

    Just more lies from the Bush Adm.

    Now that's a surprise, not!

    Lying liars and the liars keep on lying!

    And why isn't that traitor Cheney in jail??????

    December 2, 2009 06:54 pm at 6:54 pm |
  25. jesse

    "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."

    So Rumsfeld is a "bald misstater." To be charitable.

    December 2, 2009 06:55 pm at 6:55 pm |
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