Rumsfeld to Obama: What Troop Requests?

One line in President Obama’s orgy of blame-Bush-for-everything speech last night has prompted former Defense Secretary Don Rumsfeld, who managed the Afghan war for five years, to call for the President to back up his assertions. Secretary Rumsfeld’s statement, issued in a press release this morning, called for an investigation of a certain 21 words in Obama’s speech:

“In his speech to the nation last night, President Obama claimed that ‘Commanders in Afghanistan repeatedly asked for support to deal with the reemergence of the Taliban, but these reinforcements did not arrive.’ Such a bald misstatement, at least as it pertains to the period I served as Secretary of Defense, deserves a response.”
“I am not aware of a single request of that nature between 2001 and 2006. If any such requests occurred, ‘repeated’ or not, the White House should promptly make them public. 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.”
“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.”

The Administration responded by backing away:

Robert Gibbs cheerfully responded to Donald Rumsfeld’s denial that he’d denied troops to Afghanistan with, first, a clarification that Obama had been talking about the post-Rumsfeld era of 2008.
…”I will let Secretary Rumsfeld explain” whether the war in Afghanistan “was sufficiently resourced during his tenure” … and how he thinks “history will judge whether they were or were not sufficient,” Gibbs said.
Gibbs quipped: “You go to war with the secretary of Defense that you have.”

Or, in the case of the Obama Administration, you go to war with the very same secretary of Defense – Robert Gates, the man who held the job in 2008 – that you just threw under the Obamabus. If you recall, Gates himself had testified in November 2008 (after the election) that he expected an additional 30,000 troops to be sent, but the incoming Administration put off its follow-through on that promise until March, and cut Gates’ proposal nearly in half.
21 words don’t say what they used to, do they?
Gibbs’ back-and-forth with Jake Tapper below the fold.

TAPPER: Former Defense Secretary Rumsfeld took issue with a lot of the speech last night, and I just wanted to clarify it. The president said commanders in Afghanistan repeatedly asked for support to deal with the reemergence of the Taliban, but these reinforcements did not arrive. I assume you’re referring to the McKiernan requests throughout 2008.
GIBBS: Well, I — that’s, I believe, what the speech — the line of the speech. I will let Secretary Rumsfeld explain to you and to others whether he thinks that the effort in Afghanistan was sufficiently resourced during his tenure as secretary of defense.
TAPPER: Well, he says…
GIBBS: I — I think that’s — that’s something that, you know…
TAPPER: … he said he’s not aware of a single request of that nature between 2001 and 2006 when he was secretary of defense.
GIBBS: I — again, I’ll let him explain to the American public whether he believes that the effort in Afghanistan during 2001 to 2006 was appropriately resourced. You know, you go to war with the secretary of defense you have, Jake.
TAPPER: That’s cute. The — the question, though, is what specifically was President Obama talking about when he said that?
GIBBS: Again, what President Obama was talking about were additional resource requests that came in during 2008, which we’ve discussed in here. But Jake, again, I’ll leave it to the secretary of defense in 2001 to 2006 to discuss the level of resourcing for that — understanding the level of commitment that we already had dedicated in Iraq, and whether or not he feels sufficient that history will judge the resourcing decisions that he made during that time period in the war in Afghanistan were or were not sufficient.

25 thoughts on “Rumsfeld to Obama: What Troop Requests?”

  1. That’s as ham-handed a thing as I’ve ever seen on that level.
    Gibbs is left hanging out, so his only fallback is to play to Obama’s numbnut supporters by trashing Rumsfeld.
    Thank God we dodged that Sarah Palin bullet, eh?

  2. This is becoming painful to watch. At first there was some entertainment value in watching Gibbs dance around, but he is being dealt such a weak hand, and he plays it so poorly, I find it painful.
    Odds on Gibbs being around by mid-2010?

  3. Hey who was the chairman of the Senate sub-committee overseeing the Afghan War from 2006-2008? How many meetings did that person chair during that time?

  4. Press Secretaries exist to expend their credibility and then get fired. Gibbs seems to be very much on course to do that, perhaps sooner than most. Unlike Bush, Obama shows zero signs of excessive loyalty to anyone.

  5. You cannot seriously contest the undeniable truth that the Bush Administration took its eyes off the prize and invaded Iraq for no reason while failing to pay sufficient attaention to Afghaniistan.
    Also, if you listened to Admiral Mooore’s testimony, he showed Runny to be — oh my god, what a shock — totally wrong.

  6. “invaded Iraq for no reason ”
    Can’t argue with a statement like that. Anymore than you can convince him the moon’s not made of cheese.
    Humpty Dumpty was a piker by comparison.

  7. “You cannot seriously contest the undeniable truth that the Bush Administration took its eyes off the prize and invaded Iraq for no reason while failing to pay sufficient attaention to Afghaniistan.”
    If you say so, I guess we can’t. No more than we can contest that there is global warming!

  8. A bit of topic but since it was brought up: How many press secretaries did Bush have? I think it was four. They were all incredible tellers of tales with the exception of Tony Snow who was an egomaniac on top of being a liar. 2 years is the usual lifespan of that job. Whatever.

  9. Care to gove us an example of Tony Snow “lying”?
    And how about you, McLooney? do you have a cite for your claim that Admiral Mooore proved Rumsfelt “totally wrong”? Make sure you read it first!
    Pair of friggin’ goofballs…

  10. Proving Tony Show a liar difficult? Um, no. All too easy.
    Snow stated that Democratic opposition to the warrantless wiretaps was about not wanting to allow the government to listen to Al Qaeda talking to US citizens. Clearly bogus, no figure in the Democratic party has ever said anything of the sort.
    “We didn’t create the war in Iraq.”
    Tony Snow, March 1, 2007.
    Pretty much anything that the Admin put out about Iraq, the war, terrorism, etc. I’ll stop at this. Tony Snow died at age 53 of cancer which can’t be a good way to go. He was a mouthpiece for an Admin that was secretive, deceitful and manipulative. They were lying and so was he even if just by proxy.
    I think Ari Fleischer (et al.) was a big liar too but no doubt every Press Secretary tells some whoppers. He and the rest just happened to work for the Admin that told the most. Don’t want this to devolve into some Tony Snow is Awful post though. If you want to pound further on press secretaries let’s agree to have the decency to confine it to folks who are alive.

  11. Snow stated that Democratic opposition to the warrantless wiretaps was about not wanting to allow the government to listen to Al Qaeda talking to US citizens.
    That’s like saying that Democratic opposition to tax cuts is about not wanting taxes to be cut.
    As for the Iraq quote, I’d have to see the context, without which it can’t be evaluated.
    This talking point on Afghanistan ignores the wider dynamic, anyway. First, the jihadists in Afghanistan have access to international support. The backbone of that is the Pakistani ISI, which of course has grown bolder with the removal of Musharraf from the picture beginning in mid-2008. But more broadly, Al Qaeda’s attention has reshifted to Afghanistan with its defeat in Iraq. Had it not been for the Iraq War, you would have seen a much bigger international jihadist component in Afghanistan from Day One, but those resources were dedicated to the insurgency in Iraq instead.
    You guys are assuming that the enemy’s resources are not affected by what we do. That is not how the world works.

  12. Yeah, Crank, that’s it. This is why the GOP has so much trouble. You guys actually believe that non-GOPers (or more accurately non-ultra-conservatives/neo-cons) are attempting abet Al Qaeda. Despite the fact that no one has ever said any such thing Snow can say what he said because you think it’s true and therefore it is. That’s not logic, it’s crazy arrogance.

  13. So so funny. They proclaim for years they support the war in Afghanistan. Of course, we all know it was just a convenient poltically motivated statement to pretend they were for some use of the US military. People on this site, like Crank, me and others all said that when Iraq was no longer an issue, they would show their true poltical colors and then be against the US in Afghanistan. Fast Forward, throught the success of the surge in Iraq, the election and now 10 months of President Empty Suit dithering and what do we hear- irrelevant Michael Moore insanity circa 2004, the usual lefty rewrite of history and lefties talking about running away from yet another conflict.
    Listen guys I know Obumbler is in total freefall and much like his twin Carter-after him lefty policies will be like Plutonium for a decade or so. I also know that your state religion of global warming has been proven to be a total lie- but don’t be mad at us-we weren’t the ones that led you around by your noses and told you what to think. You are stuck on stupid and you need help.

  14. Posted by jim at December 3, 2009 6:09 PM
    Leftists, like Obama, believe they are doing good when they weaken America. From the spies and the traitors that provided the Soviet Union with the A-bomb because they thought it was unfair for America to be the only atomic power, to the guy who told everyone they can’t drive big cars or turn their thermostats up anymore, it’s all a piece with Soviet era leftist anti-American ideology. Like the history of slavery and Jim Crow, it’s part of the Democrat party DNA.

  15. From this you have decided Tony Snow is a liar? Man, that is weak.
    I don’t care if you want to claim a guy lied who’s dead. Some might but I don’t. Your first statement is indisputable as our host pointed out; the Iraq claim–and I’ll invent just one context for it–could mean we didn’t start that war. We were operating under the terms of the cease-fire from Saddam’s invasion of Kuwait.
    You promised me a lie. Surely you can do better than this. Right?

  16. Re: our leftist President, who won that big national election we had last year.
    That’ll blow the doors off the whole “this is a center-right country” lie we were being fed.

  17. Wait. Al Qaeda was “defeated in Iraq”? Have you been litenting to voices again Crank?
    The following are equally true:
    Al Qaeda was defeated in Bosnia.
    Al Qaeda was defeated in Korea.
    Al Qaeda was defeated in WWII.
    For the record, not that the truth matters much to you guys, but Al Qaeda was not in Iraq, Iraq had nothing to do with 9/11, there were no WMD in Iraq.
    Al Qaeda in Mesopotamia is a fringe group that took the name Al Qaeda to pump up its PR. I used to have some respect for the right because there were some original and logical (albeit mistaken) thinkers, but I am saddened to conclude that today you are all nuts.

  18. Sponge, you win. Your irrefutable logic combined with your clear and concise writing have convinced me.

  19. Sponge, you win. Your irrefutable logic combined with your clear and concise writing have convinced me.

  20. Magrooder,
    Not that you are likely to recognize facts, but let me address your one paragraph:
    “For the record, not that the truth matters much to you guys, but Al Qaeda was not in Iraq, Iraq had nothing to do with 9/11, there were no WMD in Iraq.”
    Actually, al Qaeda was in Iraq. Bin Laden was not in Iraq. However, several other known terrorists sought safe haven there after Afghanistan fell. Some stayed in the Pakistan area, some went to Syria, Iran, Iraq, Saudi Arabia, etc. They all came from different countries so they fled to different directions.
    We don’t know how much knowledge of the pending attacks Saddam had or if he provided any financial support. It is known that he was financially supporting some terrorist. We’ll give you a maybe on this one.
    There were WMD’s in Iraq. That is indisputable. Now you can argue that we did not find them in the quantities we expected, but you can not state (like you did) that none were there. Did the majority get moved to Syria? Don’t know for sure, but that is my assumption.
    Regardless of those falsehoods you state as fact, the reasons for dealing with Saddam was several fold. Primary reason was he never abided by the terms of surrender from the first Gulf War. He continued to be a threat to the region and made no secret of his willingness to financial support terrorists. After 9/11 we (or at least some of us) realized that with devestating potential of new weapons (wmd) we could not just wait until after the next attack took out a major metropolitan area. You can tell yourself that you knew for certain that Saddam would not provide weapons to terrorists. President Bush could not afford to live in a similar fantasy world.

  21. Congrats to berto, magrooder, et. all for AGAIN successfully changing this topic to an arguement about Iraq. We get sucked in everytime! Man, you guys know how to change the topic of conversation!
    So here is a post I did last year for you guys to chew on:
    OK students here in Reality 101, for those of you that have been paying attention since 9/11/01 you can amuse yourselves while the slow ones (liberals and democrats) have the events of the last years refreshed for them.
    After the first attack on the World Trade Center, then President Clinton (in between affairs with various women) decided to pursue a traditional criminal investigation approach to apprehending the organization involved (Al Qaeda). While this resulted in the arrest/conviction of the disposable members of Al Qaeda, it did not result in effecting in any way the bulk of Al Qaeda. In fact when President Clinton was offered (3 times!) Osama Bin Laden (the leader of Al Qaeda), he did not purse the offers because he said “what would we charge him with?”
    Seeing that the US would not respond with any real strength to an attack on it’s soil, Al Qaeda decided that the next big strike would not only dispose of the a much larger number of Americans, but also dispose of the their own people as well to simplify things. So they planned and executed the 9/11 attacks. However this time the President of the USA was not busy with extracurricular activities. Instead, he launched attacks on the country harboring Al Qaeda. This resulted in the driving the supporting regime (the Taliban) out of power and forcing Al Qaeda leadership into hiding from which they have not been able to launch another major attack on US soil.
    During the time before and after the 9/11 attack, Al Qaeda was forming relationships with governments hostile to the USA so as to enable larger attacks with chemical, biological, or nuclear material. One of the nations they contacted was Iraq. Finding a willing supporter in Saddam Hussein, talks were underway to see how the two could cooperate. In fact an Al Qaeda base was setup in Iraq.
    Meanwhile Saddam Hussein was hatching his own schemes to get his hands on material to make nuclear weapons. He not only wanted to regain his leverage over the region (especially his enemy Iran) but wanted to become a player in world affairs. He was also enjoying thumbing his nose at the USA and World by violating the terms from the end of the 1st Gulf War. Getting assistance from such countries as France, Germany, and Russia thru the use of the Oil for-Food program, he built up whatever weaponry and manufacturing capability he could.
    After the 9/11 attack and the ouster of Al Qaeda from Afghanistan, the President of the USA decided that the US approach of waiting to be hit again was not the way to keep the USA safe. So instead of waiting around for the next attack (this time possibly with chemical, biological, or nuclear material), he decided to oust the government of Saddam Hussein before Hussein had a full blown WMD arsenal that he could either use to threaten the world or give to terrorists. The president outlined the known information to the American public, Congress, and the UN. He received approval from the US Congress and the UN to pursue the ouster of Saddam Hussein.
    Iraq was invaded and Saddam Hussein was ousted. He was captured, tried by the Iraq government, and executed for his crimes against the Iraq people. Searches subsequently determined that while Saddam Hussein had WMD materials, he had not yet reached the stage of having a nuclear bomb or had been able to resupply himself with large quantities of chemical or biological weapons. While the more learned members of the US felt relieved that Hussein was out of power and did not have WMD fully ready for use, the less aware people (liberals and democrats) chastised the President of the USA for ousting Hussein. Some truly delusional people even made up stories that the US President (and advisors) freed Iraq from Hussein in order to make money for US companies.
    Now fast forward to 2008. Iraq has gone thru some violent times as they have moved from a dictatorship to a democracy. The prior members of Hussein’s regime conducted attacks on the US troops and Iraq government. Old hatreds between religious factions (fed by Iran, Al Qaeda, and others) also caused violence in Iraq. Al Qaeda (unable to attack the US soil due to effective efforts by the US government) tried to establish a foot hold in Iraq. However after some initial success in making some Iraq factions believe that working with Al Qaeda would be beneficial, Iraq’s tribal leaders learned that Al Qaeda was not their salvation; rather Al Qaeda was a plague on the land. They also saw that the US was really there to help them build a nation, not to conquer territory. So Iraq’s tribal leaders flipped their support to the US and Iraq government and fought to rid Iraq of outside influences.
    Through the courage (and sacrifice) of the US troops, Iraq people, intelligent leadership, and the steadfastness of the President; Iraq has overcome most of these issues to reach it’s present state. Iraq is far from perfect, but is now on a path to building itself into a nation with a future.
    Those who opposed (liberals and democrats) the ousting of Hussein (some after they had previously supported his ouster) and sought to have the US pull out of Iraq (abandoning the people of Iraq in their time of need) when tough times existed; still cling to their ignorant belief that the US should never have ousted Hussein and should have waited until Al Qaeda (possibly with Hussein’s help) was able to launch a third attack on US soil. These people who hold these ideas in contrast to the actual events since 9/11 where no attacks have occurred on US soil, Al Qaeda has the decimated (and is still being hounded), and a person (Saddam Hussein) who was actively supporting terrorism has been vanquished. Some of these ignorant people even feel that the world is less safe after these events than before. How they reconcile these ideas based on the actual events that have occurred baffles the minds of the more learned (and aware) people.
    So my less aware students, maybe next time you will pay attention to actual events so that the rest of the class does not have to spend time bringing you back to reality. You may also give thanks to the brave US military that has given so much to defend your freedoms while you have slept comfortably in your beds every night.

  22. Magrooder, ask anybody who was in Iraq and they will tell you there was a large number of foreign jihadists fighting there – including a lot of hardened, trained, experienced combat veterans – many of them trained in AQ camps, and many of them more or less under the command of AQIZ, which we know communicated with AQ leadership and requested resources. (Others were supplied, imported and in some cases directed by Iran).
    Was AQIZ, in the 2003-07 period, directly run by AQ in the way that a local McDonald’s in Beijing or Buenos Aires is run by the US parent company? I doubt that; AQ’s leadership was on the run, and operational coordination was difficult. But remember, the whole structure of the jihadist movement relies on locally based cells that can operate for some time without formal coordination but that adhere, in broad terms, to the same general ideology. What we do know is that there is a finite supply of jihadist troops, funds, and weapons available at any time to cross borders and concentrate in a single locale. Between 2003 and 2007, the largest concentration of those was in Iraq; since the Iraq War has begun to wind down, Afghanistan has received more of that attention and more of those resources.
    Denial of that reality may serve your purposes, but it has no basis in fact.

  23. The lesson-we have the military might, all we need, all we ever need, is the poltical will power to use it. I truly hope Obama remembers that and follows GWB example.

  24. Lee, please, reading your posts once is more than enough; no need to repost.
    Nice bait and switch Crank. “ask anybody who was in Iraq and they will tell you there was a large number of foreign jihadists fighting there . . . .” al Qaeda, foreign jihadists — synomnyms?
    You’ve gotten into the hallucinogens again — “There were WMD’s in Iraq. That is indisputable.” Seriously, in the real world, proof and facts are required.

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