Afterword: Mr. Woodward's Reporting vs. Mr. Woodward's Editorializing

Friday, September 12, 2008; 8:47 PM

White House News

In Focus: Setting the Record Straight

Bob Woodward's Conclusions About Both Military And Presidential Involvement In The Iraq Strategy Review And The President's Portrayal Of The Iraq War To The American People Are Not Supported By The Information He Provides In His Own Book, "The War Within"

"This past week, Bob Woodward's publisher released his new book, 'The War Within.' A thorough and careful reading of the book leads us to conclude that Woodward's prologue and epilogue are not supported by his own reporting in the body of the manuscript. For a clear historical reading of the record we commend you to the following excerpts that support our view."

-- White House Press Secretary Dana Perino, 9/12/08

The U.S. Military Provided Meaningful And Active Input At Every Stage Of The Review Process The President Directed To Determine A New Way Forward In Iraq

In "The War Within," Bob Woodward uses a prologue and epilogue, along with commentary scattered over a few other pages, to offer the opinion that that the military was marginalized and outmaneuvered in the decision-making process that led to the surge. Woodward's contentions are inaccurate. Woodward's more specific suggestion is that the military was left outside of the strategy review undertaken within the White House in the late summer and early fall of 2006, before the President directed the formal review in November 2006. However, the reporting contained in the body of Woodward's new book supports the opposite conclusion.

Woodward's book demonstrates that the military, often through interaction with National Security Advisor Steve Hadley, was fully aware that the President was probing whether the current strategy was the right strategy. Woodward's reporting also shows how Hadley informed Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff General Peter Pace of the internal White House review soon after it began.

• In July 2006, the President authorized Hadley to ask Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld, Commander of the Multinational Forces in Iraq General George Casey, and U.S. Ambassador to Iraq Zalmay Khalilzad "a series of tough, detailed questions" about Iraq designed to "plant the seed for a full strategy review." (Bob Woodward, "The War Within," pg.72)

• On August 17, 2006, "the president gathered his war council in the windowless Roosevelt Room." (pg. 88)

• Sec. Rumsfeld and Gen. Pace attended, and "General Abizaid had joined the meeting through the secure video link, as had General Casey." (pg. 90)

• The President asked his generals about the number of troops: "'Do we have enough manpower to do Baghdad and keep taking on al Qaeda and the Baathists?'" (pg. 93)

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