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Woodward Discusses New Book Critical of Administration on Iraq War

Washington Post editor Bob Woodward's new book, "State of Denial", critiques the Bush administration's handling of the war in Iraq and how officials presented the need to go to war to the American public.

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  • MARGARET WARNER:

    "State of Denial" is Bob Woodward's third book on President Bush at war. This book, like his last, focuses on the war in Iraq. It has drawn a strong response from the White House since its release last Saturday.

    White House Press Secretary Tony Snow called the fundamental question about whether the president is in denial "flat wrong." Author Bob Woodward, who's also an assistant managing editor of the Washington Post, joins us now.

    And, Bob, welcome.

    BOB WOODWARD, Author, "State of Denial": Thank you.

  • MARGARET WARNER:

    "State of Denial," that's a pretty sweeping characterization to use about the president and his advisers, vis-a-vis Iraq. What do you mean by "State of Denial"?

  • BOB WOODWARD:

    It is quite strong. And it means that there's a reality with senior people, intelligence people, coming to the president or his cabinet officers and saying, "Things in Iraq are not going well." And the president and others are out saying, "We've turned a corner."

    There's one secret intelligence report from Rumsfeld's Pentagon saying essentially, "Look, things are going to get worse in 2007." And the president is out there saying that terrorists in Iraq are in retreat, the opposite. And it's not that it just happens once or twice; it happens dozens and dozens of times in the last three and a half years.

  • MARGARET WARNER:

    Yes, one of your earliest examples comes from November of '03.

  • BOB WOODWARD:

    That's right. That's when the insurgency in Iraq had reached the point where there were 1,000 — I was surprised to get this information — 1,000 attacks a month. That's 30 a day. That is more than one an hour, that is the level of violence.

    So the top CIA man, Rob Richer, who is the division chief for the Middle East for the CIA, had just come back from Iraq, visited all seven bases, and said there's an insurgency out there. And Rumsfeld first kind of said, "Well, I don't know whether I agree with you." And the CIA man said, "Well, the Pentagon's definition of insurgency is the following," and then read it off.

    Clearly, there was an insurgency. And the president's concern was — he said to the National Security Council meeting in the situation room, "I don't want to read about that in the New York Times."