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. Soldier and Former Republican

    So, when it looks bad, blame the Aircraft Carrier crew, for the banner. Now that time has past, and the bush reign is coming to an end, tell the truth and say Ok, we did it. I am military myself, and I hate seeing the military being used for politics. Politicians love to take their picture with the military when they need us to look patriotic, then love to lay blame on us when something goes wrong.

    January 13, 2009 06:26 pm at 6:26 pm |
  2. Home of the Free

    He's still an Idiot. 7 more days, and thank God.

    January 13, 2009 06:32 pm at 6:32 pm |
  3. California Girl

    Nice try, but its too late. No need to fall on your sword at this late date.

    January 13, 2009 06:33 pm at 6:33 pm |
  4. John

    Just about the dumbest political move ever, just behind McCain picking Palin as his running mate.

    January 13, 2009 06:56 pm at 6:56 pm |
  5. Aaron from Ohio

    If there is one good thing about recent history...it's that Bush and his minions won't be writing it. Bush thinks history will be kind to him and his administration. Who knows? His approval ratings could soar into the 30's too. Anything is possible. If history has taught us anything, it has taught us that facts and events speak for themselves when you strip away the spin and the heat of the moment. Fifty years down the road Bush's legacy will speak for itself. There won't be any loyal cronies taking the blame or speaking out in his defense. History will judge. I have a hard time believing history will be kind. My guess is that lousy presidents in the future are going to be measured against the Bush yardstick. Their historical evaluations may begin with "He wasn't a good president, but he wasn't a disaster like....".

    January 13, 2009 07:17 pm at 7:17 pm |
  6. Christopher, Louisville

    Great. Now it would be nice if Bush took the blame for the Mission Failed.

    January 13, 2009 08:16 pm at 8:16 pm |
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