NEW WOODWARD BOOK PORTRAYS A WHITE HOUSE BESET BY CHAOS, CLASHES AND LIES
DID WOODWARD BETRAY AMERICA BY CONCEALING THE TRUTH HE KNEW ABOUT THE WAR ON IRAQ AND THE LIES BUSH TOLD?
By Darryl Mason
Bob Woodward secured himself a lifetime of journalistic fame by playing a role in the downfall of the Nixon administration over the Watergate scandal in the early 1970s. He has now returned to the forefront of investigative journalism with a series of books chronicling the Bush years of the White House, during one of the most turbulent half-decades in American history. Or is all that just something that should be found on the dustjacket of his new tome 'State Of Denial'?
Even before the book's release, a series of reviews, leaks and excerpts from the book reveals that Woodward knew a lot more about the lies and deceptions and chaos that beset the White House in the lead-up to the Iraq War, and during the first two years of the 'War On Terror', than he has previously revealed in the books 'Bush At War' and 'Plan Of Attack'.
You can read a list of these controversial facts and quotes below, but many journalists, particularly younger journalists, may wonder whether Woodward betrayed his profession, and the confidence of Americans, by basically holding back the 'best bits' of what he had learned during 2003 to 2005 for his third book.
Woodward is now the chief chronicler of the Bush White House Years, and his access to the chief players in this unfolding, bloody, and continually shocking drama of historic proportions is unrivaled.
But didn't he owe America, and the world, the stunning truth he now reveals in 'State Of Denial' years ago? After all, he's a senior editor at the Washington Post, not chiefly an historian. Isn't his first duty then to reveal what he has learned as soon as he can confirm it, and source it thoroughly? Rather than culling the best bits that should have gone into book number two and heating them up for book number three?
Yes. Of course.
These books are now obviously far more important to Woodward than his role as one of America's best investigative reporters. What he only chooses to now reveal in the new book also reveals his betrayal not only of the journalists' code of ethics but his moral obligation to speak up when he should have : primarily, before the 2004 US presidential elections that returned President Bush to the White House.
It is clear that Woodward had 'checked the facts' and 'triple-checked the sources' at least two or more years ago for many of the revelations listed below. Many of which, it is important to note, were revealed in 2004 by a number of freelance journalists and bloggers and amateur historians. But such information rarely hit the front pages of the major newspapers, or reached the first few minutes of the evening news.
The question remains : Where was Woodward in 2004 when so many of these revelations might have made a difference, and possibly even changed the course of how the US was fighting the 'War On Iraq' and the 'War On Terror' in general?
And where were all the other 'premier' journalists who held back with the facts they knew about the state of the 'War On Iraq' and the enormous dysfunction within the White House?
The truth of what happened inside the White House in the lead-up to the War On Iraq and the utter chaos besetting the US Military and the Pentagon, mostly due to the blind optimism and foul arrogance of the Defence Secretary, Donald Rumsfeld, has mostly come from Bush administration whistleblowers and Army generals and senior military officers.
All of whom were forced to quit, or bravely threw away their long and distinguished careers to help Get The Truth Out. Only to find their stories and revelations sidelined or widely ignored by America's most powerful mainstream media. For being true patriots, they had their careers and credibility and even their honesty ransacked and attacked and pissed upon by a sneering hit-squad of extreme right-wing bloggers, radio mouths and truth-hating administration 'senior officials'.
Probably the most important thing that Woodward's new book does is show, finally, that the most of the major whistleblowers and the generals were actually telling the truth about what they revealed when they chose personal integrity over "staying the course".
They are the heroes here, not Woodward. He held back, he went for the Big Sequel money, he played the Bush White House game and he betrayed the trust that Americans once had for journalists to do their jobs, and Tell The Truth As Soon As They Can Confirm It.
Okay, here's a some of the key 'State Of Denial' headline grabbers (two and/or three years too late) :
* Two attempts were made by White House senior officials, including Condoleeza Rice, to have Defence Secretary Donald Rumsfeld fired in late 2004 and 2005. First Lady Laura Bush believed Rumsfeld was a "liability" for her presidential husband. Bush advisor Karl Rove and Vice President Dick Cheney fought for Rumsfeld to remain Defence Secretary and Bush agreed with them.
* Rumsfeld stopped taking phone calls from Rumsfeld as the fueding increased until Bush made them start talking to each other again.
* Rumsfeld refused to deploy the National Guard to deal with the hundreds of thousands of Americans trapped after Hurricane Katrina. He only did so when Bush ordered him to send the Guard in.
* The senior US commander in the Middle East, General John P. Abizaid on Rumsfeld : "He doesn't have any credibility anymore."
* Secret government reports predict the Iraq insurgency will increase in 2007, as will attacks on US soldiers in Iraq and Afghanistan. The war in general will only worsen.
* In July, 2001, the CIA Director and the Counter-Terrorism chief were so worried about what they believed were impending attacks by Al Qaeda inside the US, they drove to the White House and demanded an unscheduled meeting with National Security Advisor, Condi Rice. They claimed their warnings were ignored. Bush went on holidays for a month only days after the emergency meeting. The July 10 meeting was not disclosed by Rice to the 9/11 Commission, so she was not questioned by the commission on the discussion that took place at the meeting, or the warnings given to her.* Through 2003, 2004, 2005 and the first half of 2006, President Bush gave regular, reasonably upbeat and optimistic speeches and interviews about what was happening in Iraq, even though he was being regularly briefed by teams of advisers from the US military and the Pentagon warning him of the ever-decreasing state of security in Iraq and the increasingly deadly attacks on US soldiers as the Iraq insurgency spiralled beyond comprehension.
* Attacks on US forces in Iraq numbered as high as 3500 separate attacks for the months of May and June this year. An all-time high since the war began in March, 2003.
* Rumsfeld was told in mid-2003 by Bush's own envoy to Iraq that three "tragic decisions...three terrible mistakes" had been made by the White House and the Pentagon - the dismissal of virtually the entire Iraq public service and administration, the total disbanding of the Iraqi military and police force and the removal of the entire Iraqi leadership, many of whom had offered to help the US "run Iraq" until elections could be held.
Rumsfeld refused to take action on any of these three key issues. "We're not going back," he said.
* Senior US military officials visiting Iraq in late 2003 and 2004 found "no coherent strategy" in place to deal with the insurgency.
* A February 2005 report commissioned by Rice, new appointed as secretary of state, revealed, "At this point Iraq remains a failed state shadowed by constant violence and undergoing revolutionary political change." The report told Rice there was no obvious, coherent strategy to deal with the all the problems facing the US occupation. Bush gave a speeches in the next month after the report reached the White House saying "We will stay the course on Iraq."
* Henry Kissinger became a powerful, influential force on Bush, advising him on the 'War On Iraq', but relieving his days during the Vietnam War when he believed the US had won the war in Vietnam, by 1972, but had failed to win the war at home with the public and Congress. Kissinger advised Bush to "stick it out" in Iraq. He told Bush that victory over the insurgency was the only kind of exit strategy that would ever work.
Kissinger also advised Bush to not "give one inch" to the public, the media, the military, Congress or concerned White House insiders. It would be seen as a sign of weakness, and vulnerability.
* Kissinger criticised Bush for having no alternative strategies on most of the primary decisions he had to make when it came to Iraq policy. There was only one choice to be made, yes or no, Bush was frequently left by Cheney, Rumsfeld and Rice with no options but the ones they placed before him. This meant there were rarely, if ever, any second choices when it came to setting policy on Iraq, hence, "Stay The Course".
* Dick Cheney remained "obsessed" with finding Saddam Hussein's weapons of mass destruction long after it became abundantly clear they did not exist. Cheney harassed at least one weapons inspector after he returned from Iraq, calling him at home at 3am.
* Priority number one for the Bush White House inner circle, and most of White House's senior staff, during 2004-2006 was Iraq first, economy second.
* The former chief of staff, Andrew Card, believed that if the generals Bush respected had told him the 'War On Iraq' could not be won, "The Mission Cannot Be Accomplished", Bush would have ended the war years ago.
* Card believed there were two chief negative aspects to the way the public perceived President Bush : incompetence and arrogance. Card believed Bush was neither. He blamed the "marketing of Bush" for the public perceptions of the president as arrogant.
* Bush told Republicans at the White House that "'I will not withdraw (from Iraq) even if Laura and Barney (his dog) are the only ones supporting me...'
An Excerpt From 'State Of Denial' By Bob Woodward
Newsweek : The Bob Woodward Effect
Woodward Book : Bush Burst into Convulsive Tears When He Won 2004 Elections
Is Woodward Calling Bush A Liar?
Book Reveals Bush Snr Had Doubts About Iraq War That Kept Him Up At Night
White House Disputes Book's Claims Of Attempts To Force Out Rumsfeld The Incompetent
'State Of Denial' Hits Early After Leaks And Pre-Publication Reviews Scoop Woodward On His Own Book
Book Says Bush Ignored Serious Warnings About The 'War On Iraq'
Whitehouse Bashes Woodward Book
Entire White House Press Briefing Devoted To Woodward Book Questions - Journos Claim Book Confirms Long String Of White House Lies And Distortions
Fox News Once Lionised Woodward Books On Bush White House - Not Anymore
Woodward Book Portrays A White House In Turmoil
ThinkProgress : The 'State Of Denial' Edition