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The War Within

Discussion in 'Habari na Hoja mchanganyiko' started by BAK, Sep 8, 2008.

  1. BAK

    BAK JF-Expert Member

    Sep 8, 2008
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    Woodward: Military Brass Opposed Surge

    Also Tells 60 Minutes U.S. Has Secret Military Capability; And That U.S. Has Been Spying On Iraq's PM

    (CBS) A year and a half since the surge in Iraq, violence is the lowest it has been since the invasion. The idea of throwing another 30,000 troops into Iraq was a desperate gamble in a dark time. And only now are we finding out just how much opposition there was by the nation's top military leaders. That's among the revelations in a new book by Washington Post Associate Editor Bob Woodward.

    "The War Within" is Woodward's fourth insider account from the Bush White House.

    60 Minutes correspondent Scott Pelley sat down with Woodward for his first interview in advance of the book's release and asked him about the war within the administration after the surge was proposed by civilians in the White House.

    Asked what the generals at the Pentagon thought when presented with the idea of a surge, Woodward told Pelley, "They think that it won't work. And the president actually at one point goes and meets with them. And the Army chief of staff, General [Peter] Schoomaker, says 'You can't add five brigades, it will take many more,' 'What about another crisis?' 'We don't have troops for this,' 'What about the damage your doing to the force, the young kids who see nothing but endless rotations?'"

    "What does General Casey, sitting in Baghdad, think of having additional troops?" Pelley asked.

    "He thinks that Baghdad is a troop sump-a place you can put endless numbers of troops in. And he does not want to add force," Woodward said.

    "The president, who has said in public, endless times, that he relies on his generals to tell him what they need, is actually going his own way here," Pelley remarked.

    "That's right," Woodward agreed. "The records of the joint chiefs show that the idea of five brigades came from the White House, not from anybody except the White House."

    "The War Within," published by CBS-owned Simon & Schuster, tracks the growing alarm inside the White House in 2006, as U.S. casualties mounted during Iraq's plunge toward civil war. The book is based on more than 150 interviews, including recorded conversations with the president. Mr. Bush told Woodward that he was frustrated with his commanders - and asked for enemy body counts so he could keep score.

    "I ask that, on occasion, to find out whether or not we were fighting back. Because the perception is that our guys are dying and they're not, because we don't put out numbers. We don't have a tally. On the other hand, if I'm sitting here watching the casualties come in, I'd at least like to know whether or not our soldiers are fighting," the president explained in one of Woodward's recorded interviews.

    "It gets so intense that in one of the secure video conferences between Washington and Baghdad the president says to Casey, 'George, we're not playing for a tie.' And Casey's knuckles, according to witnesses, literally go white as he's gripping the table. And he says, 'No Mr. President. We are not playing for a tie.' And this is Bush's concern that we're not going out and killing; in fact, Casey told one colleague privately that the president's view is almost reflective of 'Kill the bastards. Kill the bastards,' and that way we'll succeed," Woodward told Pelley.

    "You've obtained a number of documents, classified secret that the president was receiving in this period of time. What was the president hearing about what was going on in Iraq?" Pelley asked.

    "On July 20th, the top secret special compartmented information report that went directly to him quotes from an intelligence report saying, 'Violence is so out of hand, so extensive that it is self-sustaining,'" Woodward said.

    Woodward reports that a secret study for the Joint Chiefs of Staff in 2006 concluded that the U.S. was losing the war, but the president didn't give a hint of that in public.

    "Absolutely we're winning," the president said. "We're winning and we will win unless we leave before the job is done."

    "Why do you think that the president didn't level with the American people in this dark period in this war?" Pelley asked.

    "Because he wanted it to work," Woodward explained. "Did not wanna deflate the morale of the troops. And there was a political election coming up. The November 2006 Congressional elections. It was a raw, political calculation that if you tell the public - or let it get out - that they are reconsidering what they're doing, that they're acknowledging that it's not going well, all political hell would break loose."
    At the time, top military advisors were urging the president to reduce U.S. forces so Iraqis would do more of the fighting. But the president asked his national security advisor, Steven Hadley, to work on a different strategy, and three weeks after the '06 election, Mr. Bush was moving towards a fateful decision.

    "The president traveled to Amman, Jordan, to meet with Prime Minister Maliki, and behind closed doors he said what to him?" Pelley asked Woodward.

    "He said, 'I am prepared to send tens of thousands of more troops here. And I need your cooperation. I need your endorsement of this idea.' Maliki's a little resistant, but eventually, they hammer home, and get Maliki to go on board with this," Woodward said.

    "So the president has told Maliki, 'There's gonna be a surge of thousands of troops.' Has the president told General Casey, his top man in Baghdad, that?" Pelley asked.

    "No, no. The military is kind of on the outside of this, because they are adhering to the strategy of drawing down," Woodward said.

    The president decided the new strategy needed a new team; he replaced many in the military leadership. Woodward reports that even the influence of Vice President Dick Cheney diminished sharply.

    "When the president decides to replace or fire Rumsfeld, he doesn't consult Cheney," Woodward explained. "He calls him in privately after a meeting, day or two before the announcement that Rumsfeld is gonna be replaced, and he says, 'I'm replacing Rumsfeld.' Cheney's surprised and says, 'With whom?' He says, 'With Bob Gates.' And Cheney's pretty open and says, 'Well I disagree, but it's obviously your call.'"

    The president also replaced General Casey. The new general in charge of Iraq was David Petraeus, an early advocate of a surge. Woodward says that in a private meeting in the Oval Office, the president told Petraeus he was sending in nearly 30,000 additional troops.

    "He says, 'You know we're committing these five brigades. It's double down,' using a gambler's term," Woodward told Pelley. "And Petraeus says, 'No Mr. President. It's not double-down. It's all in.'"

    Playing the new hand, Petraeus created small bases throughout Baghdad, put troops on patrol in neighborhoods, and largely calmed the streets. In western Iraq, in Anbar province, the heart of the insurgency, Sunni tribal leaders, tired of al Qaeda, started coming over to the American side.

    But beyond all of that, Woodward reports, for the first time, that there is a secret behind the success of the surge: a sophisticated and lethal special operations program.

    "This is very sensitive and very top secret, but there are secret operational capabilities that have been developed by the military to locate, target, and kill leaders of al Qaeda in Iraq, insurgent leaders, renegade militia leaders. That is one of the true breakthroughs," Woodward told Pelley.

    "But what are we talking about here? It's some kind of surveillance? Some kind of targeted way of taking out just the people that you're looking for? The leadership of the enemy?" Pelley asked.

    "I'd love to go through the details, but I'm not going to," Woodward replied.

    The details, Woodward says, would compromise the program.

    "For a reporter, you don't allow much," Pelley remarked.

    "Well no, it's with reluctance. From what I know about it, it's one of those things that go back to any war, World War I, World War II, the role of the tank, and the airplane. And it is the stuff of which military novels are written," Woodward said.

    "Do you mean to say that this special capability is such an advance in military technique and technology that it reminds you of the advent of the tank and the airplane?" Pelley asked.

    "Yeah," Woodward said. "If you were an al Qaeda leader or part of the insurgency in Iraq, or one of these renegade militias, and you knew about what they were able to do, you'd get your ass outta town."

    "There's another revelation in your book about U.S. intelligence, and that is just how closely we are watching the Iraqi prime minister. Supposedly our ally, Nouri al Maliki," Pelley commented.

    "There is significant surveillance of Maliki. And as one source told me, 'We know everything he says.' And others I've talked to about that say, 'You can't literally know everything.' But we know a great deal," Woodward said.

    Asked if there's any indication that Maliki knows the U.S. is watching him that closely, Woodward said, "Some people think that he should know, and that he might know. Others think he's gonna be shocked."

    "Well, he knows now," Pelley remarked.

    "It's part of tAnother part of that story, according to Woodward, is the president's frustration with the attitude of the Iraqi people. "He has a meeting at the Pentagon with a bunch of experts. And he voices, he just said, 'I don't understand that the Iraqis are not appreciative of what we've done for them,' namely liberating them," Woodward said.

    "But tens of thousands of innocent Iraqis had been killed, in the invasion and through the occupation. He didn't understand why they might be a little ungrateful about what had occurred to them?" Pelley asked.

    "His beacon is liberation," Woodward said. "He thinks we've done this magnificent thing for them. I think he still holds to that position."

    "The president suggests to you, in your interview, that he believes he's already outmaneuvered whoever the next president is. Foreclosed their options on what to do about Iraq," Pelley said.

    "He and the secretary of defense, Gates, both by appointing Petraeus as central commander, in other words the boss of the whole Middle East. And no matter who becomes president, they're not going to be able to replace him. Petraeus is what my old boss at the Post used to call 'fireproof' - he's done so well that he can't be fired. And there is some satisfaction people in the Bush administration take with that," Woodward explained.

    "Satisfaction" because they believe Gen. Petraeus will resist a quick withdrawal from Iraq.

    "General Petraeus is sitting with 140,000 troops, in Iraq now, when conditions are definitely better. But Petraeus says, 'It's still reversible and fragile, because so many bad things have happened,'" Woodward said.

    "You know, I'm curious, did you ask the president what advice he would give the next president about the war?" Pelley asked.

    Said Woodward, "Yes, and pressed on what is the essence of what you would say, he said: 'Don't let it fail.'"he hidden story here," Woodward replied.