The Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff pushed back in a fact-checking dispute with former Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld, asserting that the Bush administration objected rejected a Pentagon request for more troops for Afghanistan last year.
Adm. Michael Mullen told a House committee Wednesday that Gen. David McKiernan, who led U.S. troops in Afghanistan between 2008 and this year, had asked for 20,000 troops for the effort but was rebuffed.
“We didn’t have them because they were pushed to Iraq,” the four-star admiral said during a House Foreign Affairs Committee hearing in response to a question from Indiana Republican Rep. Mike Pence. “That was the priority of the president.”
The conservative base, now faced with the reality that the Bush administration largely ignored Afghanistan in favor of attempting to nation-build in Iraq, are completley unwilling to recognize the failure that they had once claimed liberal/progressive Democrats embraced.
But while many who watched Obama's speech at West Point considered Obama's statement about troop requests and his patience on issuing another ( his first was in March - the one that Bush/Cheney ignored ) was directed at Dick Cheney, former Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld thought it was all about him:
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.
But there is one problem with Rumsfeld's statement, he was the Sec. of Defense when this happened - it was Robert Gates, the man that is still holds the position today. And while conservatives will attempt to use this as a "well it's not really Bush/Cheney's fault, is it" defense, the reality of the matter is that Bush/Cheney have authority over Gates just as they had authority over Rumsfeld.
In the end, this whole concept of "dithering" by Obama is a non-starter. The best decision was made with a far more solid plan than at any time during the Bush administration, who largely ignored the mission in Afghanistan.