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Setting the Record Straight: Bob Woodward On "Meet The Press"

October 09, 2006

On "Meet The Press," Bob Woodward Implies The Administration Waited Until It Knew Woodward Possessed A Secret Pentagon Report To Release A Public Report Showing Increasing Violence In Iraq. RUSSERT: "One of the things they say is you keep saying that the level of violence against American troops was a secret. They say a public report was given to the American people, which demonstrated – said just that." WOODWARD: "After I took the secret document, which I have here, I mean, I hate to show secret documents on television, but I guess I'll have to. Why was this document secret?" RUSSERT: "When did you show that to the administration?" WOODWARD: "In May, June, and then, couple of months later, the exact information was made public. They knew I had it. Now, I mean, just look at what that shows. If that was – that's what's called a pattern, increased violence. It even has gone up in the last couple of months. That's the reality. They were keeping it classified until I got a hold of it." (NBC's "Meet The Press," 10/8/06)

The Administration Has Been Consistently Transparent About Terrorist Violence In Iraq

  • Within Days Of The May 2006 Secret Report Cited By Woodward, The Pentagon Released A Public Report To Congress (The May 2006 "9010 Report"). The Pentagon's public report showed increasing attacks by terrorists in Iraq. In fact, the same chart cited by Woodward was in the May report, and that report also said violence was at an all-time high. (Department Of Defense, Report To Congress, "Measuring Stability And Security In Iraq," 5/2006, Available At:, Accessed 10/4/06)

  • In His Book, Woodward Misleadingly Charges That The Administration Claimed Violence In Iraq Was Decreasing. Woodward confuses how the Pentagon's public 9010 report defines our opposition in Iraq. 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."

    • 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.

On "Meet The Press," Woodward Claims The Administration Said The Terrorists Were In "Retreat." RUSSERT: "They say the President in May and throughout the year has always said Iraq is difficult, going to be more difficult. Saying exactly..." WOODWARD: "But, but, but he didn't say that. He said it's hard, everyone knows it's hard, but he said the terrorists are in retreat." (NBC's "Meet The Press," 10/8/06)

  • The Pentagon's Public Report Says Terrorists Elements In Iraq, Such As Al Qaeda, 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.

  • 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 On "Meet The Press" Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project

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