The White House, President George W. Bush Click to print this document

For Immediate Release
September 12, 2008

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

     Fact sheet In Focus: Iraq
     Fact sheet 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. 

Woodward's reporting – contrary to his personal opinion – further demonstrates that during the critical stage of the decision making process – from early November 2006, when the interagency review began, until the President finally decided upon the surge – the military leadership was involved in the review process and had multiple opportunities to present views to the President through Chairman Pace and in a key meeting with the President at the Pentagon. 

Accordingly, the evidence presented in the body of Woodward's new book does not support his own personal view that the military was left on the outside of the Iraq strategy review.  To the contrary, and as demonstrated above, Woodward's record supports the opposite conclusion: the military had input at essentially every stage of the strategy review process.

President Bush Remained Engaged With Daily Events Of The Iraq War And Accurately Conveyed The Situation To The American People

Woodward's personal conclusions that the President "maintained an odd detachment from [the] management [of the war]" and "handed off a war he was losing to his national security advisor" are not supported by Woodward's own evidence. 

In fact, President Bush was engaged with his war cabinet in the process leading up to the decision to surge troops in Iraq. 

Throughout the book, Woodward provides numerous examples demonstrating that the Iraq war was at the forefront of the President's daily activity:

It is evident from Woodward's own reporting that the President made the decision to surge, and he played an active role in the process leading up to that decision:  

Woodward's conclusion that the President, as sectarian violence spiked in Iraq in 2006, "rarely leveled with the public" and "rarely was the voice of realism on the Iraq War" is not supported by the public record.

In fact, President Bush remained upfront with the American people about the challenges and conditions in Iraq, while also taking care to reinforce our overall objectives and to support the men and women of our Armed Forces engaged in combat in Iraq.

 The President's public statements show that he consistently recognized the difficulties of our mission in Iraq:

 President Bush:  "I wish I could tell you that the progress made in Tal Afar is the same in every single part of Iraq.  It's not.  Though most of the country has remained relatively peaceful, in some parts of Iraq the enemy is carrying out savage acts of violence, particularly in Baghdad and the surrounding areas of Baghdad."  (President George W. Bush, Press Conference, Cleveland, OH, 3/20/06)

President Bush:  "No question, the fighting is tough.  No question, the enemy is violent and mean.  But the enemy doesn't stand for anything.  They have no message of hope.  They have no positive philosophy.  All they can do is kill and hope that the government splits up, or that the American people lose their will.  And I keep reminding the American people that the stakes are worth it.  It is worth it to help Iraq succeed." (President George W. Bush, Press Conference, Camp David, 6/12/06)

 President Bush:  "Iraq has seen a rise of terrorist and insurgent movements that use brutal and indiscriminate violence to frustrate the desire of the Iraqi people for freedom and peace. . . . Now these enemies have launched a new effort.  They have embarked on a bloody campaign of sectarian violence, which they hope will plunge Iraq into a civil war."  (President George W. Bush, Address at the American Legion National Convention, 08/31/06)

President Bush:  "I know many Americans are not satisfied with the situation in Iraq.  I'm not satisfied, either.  And that is why we're taking new steps to help secure Baghdad, and constantly adjusting our tactics across the country to meet the changing threat.  But we cannot allow our dissatisfaction to turn into disillusionment about our purpose in this war.  We must not look at every success of the enemy as a mistake on our part, cause for an investigation, or a reason to call for our troops to come home. We must not fall prey to the sophisticated propaganda by the enemy, who is trying to undermine our confidence and make us believe that our presence in Iraq is the cause of all its problems.  If I did not think our mission in Iraq was vital to America's security, I'd bring our troops home tomorrow.  I met too many wives and husbands who have lost their partners in life, too many children who won't ever see their mom and dad again.  I owe it to them and to the families who still have loved ones in harm's way to ensure that their sacrifices are not in vain." (President George W. Bush, Press Conference, The White House, 10/25/06)

 President Bush:  "Over the past three years I have often addressed the American people to explain developments in Iraq.  Some of these developments were encouraging, such as the capture of Saddam Hussein, the elections in which 12 million Iraqis defied the terrorists and voted for a free future, and the demise of the brutal terrorist Zarqawi.  Other developments were not encouraging, such as the bombing of the U.N. Headquarters in Baghdad, the fact that we did not find stockpiles of weapons of mass destruction, and the continued loss of some of America's finest sons and daughters."  (President George W. Bush, Press Conference, The White House, 10/25/06)


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