By: E&P Staff
Appearing on “60 Minutes” Sunday night, Bob Woodward talked with Mike Wallace about his new book “State of Denial,” but many of the revelations in the interview had already emerged since the existence of the book broke several days ago.
In one dramatic moment, however, Wallace told Woodward that since President Bush did not talk to him for this book — after submitting to lengthy interviews for his past two books on the White House — that critics might say that the reporter decided to hit back at Bush in response. Woodward strongly denied it, saying “It’s not true.” He said he had passed along to Bush his questions based on what he’d heard from others, so that might explain why the president did not respond. “What could he say?” Woodward asked. “That what was said in meetings did not occur?”
Woodward also revealed that Wallace’s producer at “60 MInutes” had listened to many of his audio tapes of interviews to confirm certain charges.
Another excerpt from the Woodward books appears in The Washington Post on Monday. Yet another runs in Newsweek.
The “60 Minutes” interview opened with Woodward stating flatly: “It’s the oldest story in the coverage of government — the failure to tell the truth.”
He said that John Negroponte, the former top U.S. official in Iraq, had told him that the situation is worse there now, and will get worse. Negroponte said “we always miscalculated” the strength of the insurgency.
Another new item concerned Gen. John Abizaid, chief of U.S. military operations in Iraq, visiting Rep. John Murtha last year after the latter called for a speedy U.S. withdrawal. According to Woodward, Abizaid in the meeting held up two fingers “only a quarter inch apart” and said that was how close they were in their views on a pullout.
Referring to administration claims of progress in turning over duties in Iraq, Woodward said of the Iraqi forces: “They stood up, and up — and we didn’t stand down.” In fact, he added, the war “is worse.” Two and a half years after the invasion, the administration “can’t agree on a strategy — the bumper sticker,” Woodward added.
Another twist tonight was the playing of a portion of Woodward’s interview with Vice President Cheney, where Cheney said that the president is a “big fan” of Henry Kissinger. Woodward added that Kissinger is “almost a member of the family.” It had previously come out that that the book reveals that Kissinger is considered one of the top advisers to Bush and Cheney on the war, with Woodward commenting, “Kissinger is fighting the Vietnam war again.”
Woodward said he didn’t know if George H.W. Bush had expressed his dismay about the decision to invade Iraq to his son, but the former president did express that to Brent Scowcroft.
The Woodward excerpt in the Post on Monday includes much that has already been reported based on early leaks from the book. It closes with this the following anecdote.
Card’s relationship with Rumsfeld was always difficult. Last year, in the days after Hurricane Katrina hit New Orleans with devastating effect, Bush decided more troops were needed and asked Card to relay the message to Rumsfeld.
“You know I don’t report to you,” Rumsfeld said.
“I know you don’t report to me,” Card replied. “You report to the president. But believe me, he would like you to do this.”
“I’m not going to do it unless the president tells me,” Rumsfeld told the chief of staff. Too many strains and obligations were being placed on the National Guard.
Card protested that he had just talked to the president, who had made an absolute decision.
“Then he’s going to have to tell me,” Rumsfeld said.
“Hey,” the president said to Card later. “Rumsfeld called me up. I thought you were going to handle that.”