January 13th, 2009
03:25 PM ET
8 years ago

Ex-Bush aide takes blame for 'Mission Accomplished'

Bush delivered a speech on board the USS Abraham Lincoln in 2003.

Bush delivered a speech on board the USS Abraham Lincoln in 2003.

(CNN) - It's a moment President Bush has repeatedly called a mistake: Delivering a speech on board the USS Abraham Lincoln in the Spring of 2003 with a "Mission Accomplished" banner featured prominently behind him.

But the much-maligned photo-op wasn't the president's fault at all, according to former White House Communications Director Dan Bartlett.

Bartlett, currently a political analyst with CBS, said Tuesday he was the one who actually  gave the final go-ahead of the event.

"Quite frankly, yours truly was the guy who actually signed off," he said Tuesday. "I regret it to this day, because it did send the wrong message."

In his final press conference Monday, Bush immediately cited the moment when asked by a reporter what mistakes he had made over the last eight years.

"Clearly, putting a 'mission accomplished' on an aircraft carrier was a mistake," he said. "We were trying to say something differently but, nevertheless, it conveyed a different message."

Bush has also previously defended the banner as pertaining to the mission of the crew on board the Aircraft carrier, not the Iraqi invasion as a whole.

Still, Bartlett credited Bush Tuesday for not blaming his staff for the misstep.

"[That's] why he endears so much loyalty from people like myself and others who had worked for him," Bartlett said.

Filed under: President Bush
soundoff (156 Responses)
  1. Jason

    How many former aides are going to fall on their own swords for this guy? In the real world the guy at the top is responsible for company – and how many people have had to drink the kool-aid so he can look like he was blameless? Bush stood there, and that picture has been out there for 5 years. Only NOW are we calling it a mistake? Saddle up pardner, the stage is moooovin' out

    January 13, 2009 04:15 pm at 4:15 pm |
  2. Joe the Teacher

    Kill the scapegoat!
    All hail the Bush Legacy!

    January 13, 2009 04:16 pm at 4:16 pm |
  3. Karl Rove

    Keep changing the story and placing the blame until people forget or become too confused to care – it works every time. Now if we can just get them to blame the Iraq war on Clinton.

    January 13, 2009 04:50 pm at 4:50 pm |
  4. Meka

    1- Cheney as VP
    2- Iraq
    3- Katrina
    4- De-regulation
    5- Jobs being Out-sourced
    6- 23 Work Visa Programs
    7- Not securing the Boarders

    Just to name a few!

    January 13, 2009 04:55 pm at 4:55 pm |
  5. Bob Abuhe

    Originally, Bush said he had nothing to do with the "Mission Accomplished" banner, now an aide in his administration is taking credit for it AND Bush said himself it was a mistake. Just one more example of the series of lies Bush has told over his horrendous presidency.

    January 13, 2009 05:00 pm at 5:00 pm |
  6. shoegazer

    That banner should be hanging in a prominent place next Tuesday,one where everyone can see that finally bidding farewell to the Bush administration is"Mission Accomplished".

    January 13, 2009 05:06 pm at 5:06 pm |
  7. Deborah in Indiana

    That is sure "taking one for the Gipper."

    January 13, 2009 05:09 pm at 5:09 pm |
  8. Kim

    So, whose idea was it for Dubya to strut around the deck in a flight suit? This whole thing was one overdone, testosterone-fueled, make-George-look macho photo op. The only thing missing was the "Dirty Dozen" theme song. My 2 yr old granddaughter (whose dad, by the way, is still in Iraq getting shot at and handling all those "combat missions" that ended) would know better than to put this idiotic banner right behind Dubya in full camera view. GOOD GRIEF.

    January 13, 2009 05:11 pm at 5:11 pm |
  9. Bridget

    Did this guy also sign off on having Bush in parachuting gear dropping in to the aircraft carrier as part of a photo op? Because that was much more revolting and offensive than "Mission Accomplished". The banner was just stupid. Having the president play a military commando was ridiculous.

    January 13, 2009 05:11 pm at 5:11 pm |
  10. mike

    How convenient that this louse waits until Bush's last week to speak up.

    Bush also did not blame Rumsfeld, Rove, or Cheney.......what does that mean?

    Is he loyal or afraid to make an EXECUTIVE decision.

    Bush listened to a whole batch of moron moves....i wouldn't own up to them either

    January 13, 2009 05:15 pm at 5:15 pm |
  11. Michael, Houston Texas

    The the funniest thing about the past 8 years, everytime something goes wrong, it is never the President fault and someone seems to fall on a sword for this guy. So let me get tis straight, he stands on an aircraft carrier points back to the sign and say's 'mission accomplished" and it Dan's fault? What happen to his imfamous statement that he was the "decider"? Either The Bush family is paying alot of money to all of these people who have fallen on swords for GWB or these people must have done some very horrible things that GWB knows about and is using that knowledge to his advantage to get these guys to take the blame for him. WOW!

    January 13, 2009 05:18 pm at 5:18 pm |
  12. G from RTP?

    The mistake was not the banner but the invasion....

    January 13, 2009 05:20 pm at 5:20 pm |
  13. Mel of Alexandria, Virginia

    We will accept that if Bush confesses that he was only a mouth, no mind at work, while Chaney was managing everything, including sending his company to Iraq without a bid, etc. etc. etc.

    January 13, 2009 05:21 pm at 5:21 pm |
  14. Ursula, NV

    It does not matter. We didn't vote for the ex-Bush aide, the country voted for Bush. So the buck stops with him. He knew about the sign, he didn't do anything about it and it was that message that he conveyed. The message that the mission in Iraq was accomplished.

    Over four thousand dead soldiers later, we are still waiting for the mission to be accomplished. Thanks for nothing GW Bush.

    January 13, 2009 05:25 pm at 5:25 pm |
  15. Kyle, CA

    Dubya stands for DUMB.

    Tick tock already.

    January 13, 2009 05:26 pm at 5:26 pm |
  16. Jack in Florida

    Doesn't surprise me as an idiot surrounds himself with fellow idiots.....glad Dan Bartlett fessed up. I am sure that looks good on his resume.

    January 13, 2009 05:30 pm at 5:30 pm |
  17. Jenn, GA

    I know for a fact that had the sign worked, Bush would have taken the credit for it, so why can't the reverse be true? It didn't work, so he needs to take the blame for it.

    Note to W: Stop whining, grow up, go back to Crawford and leave us alone.

    I hate the Bushes. They have denial syndrome, and that denial has led us into the horrible state of the union.

    Don't rewrite history, just leave. Yuck.

    January 13, 2009 05:31 pm at 5:31 pm |
  18. Greed is not good

    So that just confirms that Bush was a puppet and just let everyone else make decisions for him. Did somebody also take the blame for him putting on a pilot suit and acting like an arrogant dictator?

    January 13, 2009 05:40 pm at 5:40 pm |
  19. Photon Torpedo Dallas, TX

    Whatever Repubs! You are trying to sell it and I ain't buyin.
    You've had plenty of opportunity to correct your "so called" mistake but you took credit for it when it looked like it would work.

    So sorry... this won't "fly"!


    January 13, 2009 05:49 pm at 5:49 pm |
  20. Amber

    Dear Gott in Himmel... why WHY is ANYONE jumping in front of trains for this fool?!

    January 13, 2009 05:58 pm at 5:58 pm |
  21. Pam Williams

    If you watched Bushes news conference, he did take the blame for it....never mentioned another person.

    January 13, 2009 06:04 pm at 6:04 pm |
  22. catmom

    What I would like to see President Bush do during his last interview is take total responsibility for the failures of his administration. Show a little remorse and absolve all his loyal backers and let them know they no longer have to take the blame for things he did. He is after all the decider.

    January 13, 2009 06:09 pm at 6:09 pm |
  23. Carl from MI

    And Dubya was SOOOOOO stOOpid that he went along with it without even questioning this guy's judgement? BS!!!!

    Does it really matter WHO put the banner up at this point???

    The entire administration had been a complete and total failure... and that's how it's going to go down in history as!!

    January 13, 2009 06:10 pm at 6:10 pm |
  24. Salt & Pepper

    How convenient to change the story AFTER the fact. Bush should have stated that "these fine men have accomplished THEIR mission and are welcome back home." Like, yeah, they were trying to say something different. I can believe that coming from an administration that was ALWAYS trying something different. (By the way, we see how all those "trying something differents" turned out.) Bye bye.

    January 13, 2009 06:19 pm at 6:19 pm |
  25. Lori

    Thank goodness this man is going. I don't even know where to begin on what went wrong with Bush (Iraq, Katrina, the economy, GItmo, etc.).The hatred the world felt towards us (especially when I travelled to Europe) was horrible. Finally, the world respects us again- thanks to Barack. See ya George.

    January 13, 2009 06:22 pm at 6:22 pm |
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