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Setting the Record Straight: Bob Woodward

October 04, 2006

Brent Scowcroft

Woodward Says His Reporting Of Comments By President George H.W. Bush Is Based On What Former President Bush Told Brent Scowcroft. WOODWARD: "And [President George H.W. Bush] said that to Brent Scowcroft, who was his National Security Advisor. And I reported that out thoroughly. And as you see, there's a kind of vagueness in the, well, I don't know what's said in the book, I like [Condoleezza Rice]. Well, I didn't say he didn't like her. I said that he told Brent Scowcroft, who's one of his closest friends and aides … [Condi's] a disappointment, isn't she?" (CNN's "The Situation Room," 10/4/06)

  • Brent Scowcroft Says He Did Not Speak To Bob Woodward And Never Discusses His Personal Conversations With President George H.W. Bush. SCOWCROFT: "I have spoken to Bob Woodward a number of times about a variety of subjects over the years, but I did not agree to be interviewed for his latest book. Further, there are statements in the book, directly or implicitly attributed to me, that did not and never could have come from me. I never discuss any personal conversations that I may have with President H.W. Bush, and he never discusses with me any conversations that he has with President George W. Bush." (Brent Scowcroft, Statement, 10/2/06)

July 10 Rice-Tenet Meeting

On CNN, Woodward Claims The White House Initially Denied The July 10 Meeting. WOODWARD: "Now, when this book was published, the first reaction was, oh no, there was no such meeting." (CNN's "The Situation Room," 10/4/06)

  • Last Friday, Immediately Upon Learning Of Woodward's Claims, The White House And State Department Confirmed That The July 10, 2001, Rice-Tenet Meeting Took Place. "White House and State Department officials yesterday confirmed that the July 10 meeting took place, although they took issue with Woodward's portrayal of its results." (Peter Baker, "White House Disputes Book's Report Of Anti-Rumsfeld Moves," The Washington Post, 9/30/06)
    • Counselor To The President Dan Bartlett: Secretary Rice "Does Remember … This Meeting." (CBS' "Face The Nation," 10/1/06)

In His Book, Woodward Claims Tenet Felt That He Was Brushed Off. (Bob Woodward, State Of Denial, 2006)

  • On CNN, Woodward Says Rice Responded Seriously To Tenet's Briefing. WOODWARD: "They then present this information and as now they've revealed, which I did not know, that Rice then asked Tenet, in fact, ordered him to give the briefing to Don Rumsfeld and John Ashcroft who was then Attorney General. I know of no other incident where she requested or ordered that a briefing be given to those two officials. So obviously, there was a seriousness to it. Tenet and Black wanted to move faster. It's also reasonable, her position, which is reflected in the book – namely, they didn't come in and say, hey, there's going to be a terrorist attack in 60 days, this is how they're going to do it, and these are their targets." (CNN's "The Situation Room," 10/4/06)
  • 9/11 Commission Member Richard Ben-Veniste Says Tenet Testified That Rice Understood The Gravity Of Tenet's Briefing. "According to three people present at the session, including Ben-Veniste, Tenet believed that Rice responded seriously to what she had been told. 'We particularly questioned him about whether he had the sense that Dr. Rice and the others on the White House side understood the gravity of what he was telling them,' said Ben-Veniste, a former Watergate prosecutor. 'He said that they believed that they did. … We asked him further whether Dr. Rice just shrugged this off, and he said he did not have such an impression.'" (Dan Eggen and Robin Wright, "Tenet Recalled Warning Rice," The Washington Post, 10/3/06)
    • Ben-Veniste: "Tenet Never Told Us That He Was Brushed Off. … We Certainly Would Have Followed That Up." (Philip Shenon and Mark Mazzetti, "C.I.A. Chief Warned Rice On Al Qaeda," The New York Times, 10/3/06)

Reports On Violence Levels In Iraq

Today, Woodward Said He Was "Really Surprised To Discover The Level Of Violence In Iraq, And You See That They Go Out And Say, Oh, The Terrorists Are In Retreat, We Have Turned A Corner And The Secret Intelligence Flatly Contradicts That." In his book, Woodward charges that a secret Pentagon report saying the insurgents and terrorists retained the resources and capabilities to "sustain and even increase current levels of violence through the next year" conflicts with a public report sent to Congress two days later. (MSNBC's "Hardball With Chris Matthews," 10/4/06; Bob Woodward, State Of Denial, 2006)

  • In His Book, Woodward Confuses How The Pentagon's Public 9010 Report Defines The Opposition In Iraq, Leading Him To Misleadingly Charge That The Administration Claimed Violence Was Decreasing.
  • In His Book, Woodward Inaccurately Claims The Public Report Defined "Iraqi Rejectionists" As "Former Regime Loyalists, Saddamists, And Terrorists, Including Al Qaeda." (Bob Woodward, State Of Denial, 2006)
    • The Public Report Expressly Defines "Rejectionists" As An Independent Category – Wholly Distinct From "Former Regime Loyalists, Saddamists, And Terrorists, Including Al Qaeda." The 9010 Report said, for example: "Anti-government and anti-Coalition violence in Iraq derives from many separate elements, including Iraqi Rejectionists, former regime loyalists (including Saddamists), and terrorists, such as Al-Qaida in Iraq… Each of these groups has divergent and often incompatible goals; … Therefore, to categorize the violence in Iraq as a single insurgency or a unified 'opposition' is both inaccurate and misleading." (Department Of Defense, Report To Congress, "Measuring Stability And Security In Iraq," 5/2006, Available At:, Accessed 10/4/06)
    • The President's "National Strategy For Victory In Iraq" Defined These Three Distinct Enemy Elements And The Different Strategies For Defeating Them. Rejectionists are mostly ordinary Sunni Arabs who have not embraced the shift from Saddam's tyranny to a democratic Iraq. Unlike terrorists who must be killed or captured, "we judge that over time many in this group will increasingly support a democratic Iraq provided that the federal government protects minority rights and the legitimate interests of all communities." (National Security Council, National Strategy For Victory In Iraq, 11/30/05, Available At:, Accessed 10/4/06)
  • The Excerpt From The Public Report That Woodward References Is About The "Appeal And Motivation" Of Rejectionists – It Is NOT About Violence Caused By Insurgents Or Terrorists. It is accurate and consistent to note that terrorists and insurgents will "retain the capabilities" to "sustain violence levels through 2007," but that "appeal and motivation for rejectionist elements will wane in 2007" as the political process consolidates with full Sunni participation.
  • For Terrorist Elements Such As Al Qaeda, The Public Report Says Nothing About "Waning" Violence – But Says Terrorists Remain "Resilient." "Of the groups described above, terrorists and foreign fighters posed the most serious and immediate threat during this reporting period. Although the overall level of support to terrorists and foreign fighters among Iraqis is apparently declining, Al-Qaida in Iraq (AQI), which is suspected of conducting the attack on the Golden Mosque in Samarra and of escalating violence between Sunni and Shi'a, remains intent on instigating civil war to derail the Iraqi government. Although AQI has been unsuccessful in driving Iraq to civil war, Sunni and Shi'a Arab reprisals elevated the level of violence throughout this period."
  • The Public Report Contains Charts Showing An Increasing Trend In Violence And Casualties. Far from hiding an increasing trend in violence, the report notes that "overall, average weekly attacks during [this] period were higher than any of the previous periods."

  • The Statistics Woodward Claims To Have Been Hidden From Public View, Were Clearly Presented In The Same Public Report On Which He Bases His Charge.
  • Note: MNC-I data is a record of significant events and attacks only. Not all attacks or incidents are reported to MNC-I. Other organizations may use a different methodology in counting attacks. However, trend data tends to be consistent among various reporting methods.

  • President Bush Has Been Clear With The American People That We Are In A Tough, Critical Struggle. THE PRESIDENT: "Our nation has been through three difficult years in Iraq. And the way forward will bring more days of challenge and loss." (President Bush, Remarks, Chicago, IL, 5/22/06)
    • President Bush: "The [Iraqi] Government Is Still A Work In Progress, And Overcoming Longstanding Divisions Will Take Time. Iraq's New Leaders Know They Have A Great Deal Of Work Ahead To Broaden The Base Of Their Government And To Unite The People." (President Bush, Remarks, Chicago, IL, 5/22/06)
    • President Bush's December 2005 Address To The Nation: "Yet Our Work Is Not Done. There Is More Testing And Sacrifice Before Us." (President Bush, Address To The Nation, Washington, DC, 12/18/05)

George W. Bush, Setting the Record Straight: Bob Woodward Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project

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