Monday, September 8, 2008

This series of articles is drawn from Bob Woodward's "The War Within: A Secret White House History, 2006-2008." Woodward, an associate editor of The Washington Post, interviewed more than 150 people, including the president's national security team, senior deputies and key players responsible for the intelligence, diplomatic and military operations in the Iraq war. Other officials with firsthand knowledge of meetings, documents and events, employed at various levels of the White House, the departments of Defense and State and the intelligence community, also served as primary sources.

Woodward interviewed President Bush in the Oval Office for nearly three hours May 20 and 21, 2008. A small selection of audio clips from these interviews can be heard at washingtonpost.com/warwithin/audio.

Since the start of the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq, Woodward has had six on-the-record interviews with Bush for a total of nearly 11 hours.

Many of the interviews for "The War Within" were conducted on background, meaning that the information obtained could be used but the sources would not be identified by name. Nearly all participants consented to having the interviews recorded, allowing their accounts to be told more fully. The book attempts to preserve their style of speech as much as possible, even when their exact words are not quoted.

In cases where thoughts, conclusions or feelings are attributed to a participant, that point of view has been obtained from that person directly, from the written record or from a colleague whom the person told.

Almost all of the Bush administration's internal deliberations on the Iraq war have been classified. At Woodward's request, the White House agreed to declassify a dozen documents, and Woodward independently reviewed dozens more. In addition, critical information came from an array of memos, letters, official notes, personal notes, briefing summaries, PowerPoint slides, e-mails, journals, calendars and meeting agendas.

This Week

Part 1 | Dissension: In the summer of 2006, with violence in Iraq skyrocketing, Bush acknowledged to himself what he was not saying publicly: The military strategy was failing. After months of delay, he approved a secret war review in October 2006; it was conducted "under the radar" because of the approaching midterm elections.

Part 2 | Rift: In the fall of 2006, the Joint Chiefs of Staff and the commanders in Iraq found themselves badly out of sync with the White House over a proposal to increase troops in Iraq, contributing to a widening rift between the nation's military and civilian leaders.

Part 3 | The Shadow General: By the late summer of 2007, retired Army Gen. Jack Keane established an unusual back-channel relationship with the White House, advising the president and vice president on the Iraq war.

Wednesday | Inheritance: Just as war defines a nation, a president's leadership in war defines him. An assessment of George W. Bush's handling of the Iraq war and what his successor will inherit.

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