Monday, October 02, 2006



Bob Woodward's 'State Of Denial' is proving to be the biggest headache President Bush has faced in months. Mostly because so much of it is true and impossible to deny. But the White House is trying, but so far it's not working.

Woodward's fat ream of revelations has only confirmed what so many people already believed, or suspected : Bush was lying about the realities of the 'War On Iraq' to get himself elected again in 2004, and then kept lying because it was easier than telling the truth, and facing the consequences.

'State Of Denial' is a devastating portrait of Bush as a war-time leader, lost and unable to regain control of the war or his administration. One of the most disturbing visions of the Bush White House is just how much influence the stunningly incompetent Defence Secretary Donald Rumsfeld held, and aggressively exerted, as he ignored all advice to fight the war his way. Bush appears to have merely gone along with whatever Rumsfeld wanted, even after his cofidant, Condi Rice, stopped talking to to Rumsfeld.

From the New York Times :

In Bob Woodward’s highly anticipated new book, “State of Denial,” President Bush emerges as a passive, impatient, sophomoric and intellectually incurious leader, presiding over a grossly dysfunctional war cabinet and given to an almost religious certainty that makes him disinclined to rethink or re-evaluate decisions he has made about the war.

It’s a portrait that stands in stark contrast to the laudatory one Mr. Woodward drew in “Bush at War,” his 2002 book, which depicted the president — in terms that the White House press office itself has purveyed — as a judicious, resolute leader, blessed with the “vision thing” his father was accused of lacking and firmly in control of the ship of state.

As this new book’s title indicates, Mr. Woodward now sees Mr. Bush as a president who lives in a state of willful denial about the worsening situation in Iraq, a president who insists he won’t withdraw troops, even “if Laura and Barney are the only ones who support me.” (Barney is Mr. Bush’s Scottish terrier.)

As depicted by Mr. Woodward, this is an administration in which virtually no one will speak truth to power, an administration in which the traditional policy-making process involving methodical analysis and debate is routinely subverted. He notes that experts — who recommended higher troop levels in Iraq, warned about the consequences of disbanding the Iraqi Army or worried about the lack of postwar planning— were continually ignored by the White House and Pentagon leadership, or themselves failed, out of cowardice or blind loyalty, to press insistently their case for an altered course in the war.

Mr. Woodward describes the administration’s management of the war as being improvisatory and ad hoc, like a pickup basketball game, and argues that it continually tried to give the public a rosy picture of the war in Iraq (while accusing the press of accentuating the negative), even as its own intelligence was pointing to a rising number of attacks against American forces and an upward spiral of violence.

Mr. Woodward reports that when he told Mr. Rumsfeld that the number of insurgent attacks was going up, the defense secretary replied that they’re now “categorizing more things as attacks.” Mr. Woodward quotes Mr. Rumsfeld as saying, “A random round can be an attack and all the way up to killing 50 people someplace. So you’ve got a whole fruit bowl of different things — a banana and an apple and an orange.”

Mr. Woodward adds: “I was speechless. Even with the loosest and most careless use of language and analogy, I did not understand how the secretary of defense would compare insurgent attacks to a ‘fruit bowl,’ a metaphor that stripped them of all urgency and emotion. The official categories in the classified reports that Rumsfeld regularly received were the lethal I.E.D.’s, standoff attacks with mortars and close engagements such as ambushes.”

Earlier in the volume, in a section describing the former Iraq administrator Jay Garner's reluctance to tell the president about the mistakes he saw the Pentagon making in Iraq, Mr. Woodward writes: “It was only one example of a visitor to the Oval Office not telling the president the whole story or the truth. Likewise, in these moments where Bush had someone from the field there in the chair beside him, he did not press, did not try to open the door himself and ask what the visitor had seen and thought. The whole atmosphere too often resembled a royal court, with Cheney and Rice in attendance, some upbeat stories, exaggerated good news and a good time had by all.”

Were the war in Iraq not a real war that has resulted in more than 2,700 American military casualties and more than 56,000 Iraqi civilian deaths, the picture of the Bush administration that emerges from this book might resemble a farce. It’s like something out of “The Daily Show” or a “Saturday Night Live” sketch, with Freudian Bush family dramas and high-school-like rivalries between cabinet members who refuse to look at one another at meetings being played out on the world stage.

There’s the president, who once said, “I don’t have the foggiest idea about what I think about international, foreign policy,” deciding that he’s going to remake the Middle East and alter the course of American foreign policy.

There’s the president’s national security adviser whining to him that the defense secretary won’t return her phone calls. And there’s the president and Karl Rove, his chief political adviser, trading fart jokes.

“Has he thought this through? What the president says in effect is, We’ve got to press on in honor of the memory of those who have fallen. Another way to say that is we’ve got to have more men fall to honor the memories of those who have already fallen.”

White House Accuses Woodward Of "Bias" And "Formulating Conclusions"

'State Of Denial' Book Extract #1 : How Bush Decieved The American Public On Iraq

State Of Denial Book Extract #2 : The Secret Reports That Exposed Bush Optimism On Iraq As Deceptions And Lies

State Of Denial Book Extract #3 : The Vast Gulf Between What Bush Knew Was Happening Iraq And What He Revealed To To Americans

State Of Denial Book Extract #4 : Bush Wanted To Sack Rumsfeld, Cheney Pressured Him To Keep His Old Friend In Command Of The Pentagon

White House Book Damns The Bush War Team

White House Desperately Tries To Paper Over The Massive Cracks In The Administration Exposed By Woodward's Book