December 2nd, 2009
06:40 PM ET
6 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. Randi L.

    Weasel Rumsfeld wasn't the defense secretary at the end of the 2nd term of the worst President in American history. Rumdummy had already been ousted. His comments about what was requested when he was defense secretary don't have any bearing on requests that generals made between the time he was fired and the end of Bush's term.

    December 2, 2009 07:09 pm at 7:09 pm |
  2. What???

    Where are the mouthy, we did the right thing, but ignorant as tree stump republican supporters?

    Please explain why Adm. Mullen is saying that requests for troop increases were denied under Rumsfeld's leadership?

    Come on you GOP finger sniffers, did you not listen to any news when we were in the middle of a civil war in Iraq but received constant reports that the Taliban in Afghanistan is reconstituting?

    Now you dummies listen to the losers who are the architects of our current mess!

    December 2, 2009 07:10 pm at 7:10 pm |
  3. brian in denver

    Colonel Klink (Rumsfeld) should know better than to make any more public statements. The man will forever be a stain on American history

    December 2, 2009 07:11 pm at 7:11 pm |
  4. Bernie Peacock

    How do these people like Rumsfeld, and Cheney sleep at night? I guess they totally beleive the lies they conjured up to manipulate the US Government and the people of the United States!

    They are lucky that this is a "Free Country" and that they are not spouting this Lunacy from a Fereral Prison cell for their criminal ineptitude!

    I thought that the speach that the President made regarding the war in Afghanistan was the the most adult explanination of a wartime situatiom that probably any president has ever made to the country!

    Honesty in government is something that these MORONS could never understand!

    December 2, 2009 07:11 pm at 7:11 pm |
  5. ThinkAgain

    I trust Admiral Mike Mullen's word over Chicken Hawk Rumsfeld's any day!

    If Rumsfeld hadn't been so arrogant, naive, and just plain stupid, he would have listened to the generals in the lead-up to the Iraq war and given them the number of troops (400,000) that they said they would need to invade and secure the country.

    Instead, as the insurgency took hold and things began to go terribly wrong, we had to listen to Rumsfeld tell us how "war is a messy thing."

    Take a hike, Rummy!

    December 2, 2009 07:12 pm at 7:12 pm |
  6. tmike

    Perhaps this headline should have read: "Rumsfeld Accusation Contradicted By Admiral".

    December 2, 2009 07:12 pm at 7:12 pm |
  7. Jim

    I don't trust what Mr. Rumsfeld says. After all, he is the one that ignored all the generals that thought we were going to need a lot more troops in Iraq. He was never right in his assesments of the wars either because he didn't get it or he wasn't telling the truth. So his claim that there were no requests on the table can't be believed.

    December 2, 2009 07:13 pm at 7:13 pm |
  8. Gerry NH

    I don't care for Rumsfeld but he is right if they have proof then produce it. This administration say alot but it seems that they don't back it up with proof.

    December 2, 2009 07:14 pm at 7:14 pm |
  9. Mark in Atlanta

    Donald Rumsfeld? Really? Isn't he in jail for war crimes somewhere? Should be.

    As I recall, Rummy found actually signing the letters that went to families of fallen soldiers too unimportant to actually take up his time, so he had them signed mechanically by an autopen. And now he is talking about a failure to respect our service men and women? You go to hell, Mr. Rumsfeld.

    December 2, 2009 07:15 pm at 7:15 pm |
  10. Aaron

    Yep, Rumsfield's opinion is one to be cherished. We've been there, done that...and still stuck in Iraq and Afghanistan!

    December 2, 2009 07:16 pm at 7:16 pm |
  11. Jack

    And why would we doubt anything Rumsfeld says...well, how about this?

    1) military strategists said it would take 400,000 troops to control Iraq.

    Rumsfeld simply fired every general until he found one who agreed with him and said: "we're going in lean and mean" (and Iraq was a disaster for years as a result

    2) how about Rumsfeld's famous prediction about Iraq.

    "the war could last 6 days or 6 weeks. But I doubt 6 months (7 years later and the war continues).

    3) or how about: "We KNOW Saddam has weapons of mass destruction"... we know where they are".

    How Rumsfeld has the gall to say ANYTHING in public is truly astonishing.

    December 2, 2009 07:16 pm at 7:16 pm |
  12. happylady2

    OOPs! Mr. Rumsfeld, looks like you made a "bald misstatement".

    December 2, 2009 07:16 pm at 7:16 pm |
  13. Jim

    Rumsfeld needs to keep making his millions off of the DoD welfare budget and shut his mouth. He's the one who lied about Iraq so he and his gang of thieves could award no bid contracts to his buddies and rob the American taxpayer.

    December 2, 2009 07:17 pm at 7:17 pm |
  14. Keith in CA

    Rumsfeld is a national disgrace. When did the truth or respect for our men and women in the armed forces become important to him? Rumsfeld, Cheney and the rest of the Bush cronies had their chance to get it right but they blew it. They should just keep their mouths shut, count their Halliburton millions and be grateful they haven't been charged for war crimes.

    December 2, 2009 07:18 pm at 7:18 pm |
  15. Ex-NC-Pub

    Rummy is so old that he is remembering things that never happened. Just ask your generals you dummy.

    December 2, 2009 07:18 pm at 7:18 pm |
  16. Billy J..Texas..

    Well. Hmmmm, do I trust Admiral Mullen and General Mkiernan, or the man who would like to re-write history to make himself not look like the loser who didn't bring back bin laden's head on a stick like he should have. If we had done that when we first went in, we would have had no reason to stick around, unless we really wanted to. Our mission REALLY WOULD have been accomplished. But that was not the war this suit wanted, he wanted to get back a Saddam for bad blood from another era. The era he should have gotten out of politics in, instead of mismanaging our response to 9-11.

    December 2, 2009 07:18 pm at 7:18 pm |
  17. Drew

    Stop giving media to these traitorous has-beens.
    How dare they critize a sitting commander-in-chief.
    It is un-patriotic.
    It is un-American.
    These are the same folks that ruined our country and laughed all the way to the banks.
    Get them out of the press.
    Let's discuss people that have our country's best intentions at heart.
    Thier 15 minutes that lasted 8 long years is up!
    I support our President and our troops.
    Let's get over there and get the job, that they neglected for thier own selfish and destructive interests, done.

    December 2, 2009 07:19 pm at 7:19 pm |
  18. Hopeful in America

    Yeah right...like anyone would believe Rumsfeld! He got us into this mess with his arrogance and dishonestly. He needs to go away, take Cheney with him and just shut up!

    December 2, 2009 07:21 pm at 7:21 pm |
  19. lookit

    RUmmy was the most arrogant, combative, and hard-headed Sec Def to ever hold that office. And now he has the cojones to criticize the new Commander in Chief? WHERE was the introspection when you overruled your military commanders and low-balled the number of troops to take and pacify a country of 24 million? Or sent troops in without adequate protection. the arrogance just continues...

    December 2, 2009 07:22 pm at 7:22 pm |
  20. lawrence

    Shouldn't Rumsfeld be in jail?

    December 2, 2009 07:22 pm at 7:22 pm |
  21. jms

    I would not believe anyone who was part of the Bush administration.

    December 2, 2009 07:24 pm at 7:24 pm |
  22. Joe Unger, San Francisco

    Ah, Rummy, unaware yet again. That's what happens when you only listen to people who will tell you what you want to hear.
    And yet....shame of Barack Obama for playing politics with this issue. I'm so sick of BO always pointing the finger at Bush and the Obamamaniacs giving BO credit "for cleaning up someon else's mess." That's what Presidents do. They take over from the last President. I, myself, won't give BO any credit unless he actually cleans something up. No way I'll give anyone credit before they have earned it, unlike the Obamamaniacs.

    December 2, 2009 07:25 pm at 7:25 pm |
  23. Matthew

    I love how "bald" modifies the euphemism "misstatement" - how does one blatantly and emphatically make a "misstatement"? Politicians speak such gibberish.

    December 2, 2009 07:26 pm at 7:26 pm |
  24. Dave

    Obama: stop the ridiculous (at this point) Bush accusations!

    December 2, 2009 07:27 pm at 7:27 pm |
  25. t.Tulsa

    Why can't these republican nut cases support anything this president does. He has bent over backwards to have them join the debate and attempt to solve this nation's myriad problems. All he and the country get from the republicans is raw hatred. They do not care one iota about the welfare of this nation. They are only focused on power and getting rid of the best qualified president we have had in a long time. I wonder if they can envision the state of the nation in the hands of a Mccain and Palin.
    I wonder if the world is ready for such people. What a bunch of hate-filled creatures.

    December 2, 2009 07:30 pm at 7:30 pm |
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