"Insurgents and terrorists retain the resources and capabilities to sustain and even increase current level of violence through the next year." This was the secret Pentagon assessment sent to the White House in May 2006. The forecast of a more violent 2007 in Iraq contradicted the repeated optimistic statements of President Bush, including one, two days earlier, when he said we were at a "turning point" that history would mark as the time "the forces of terror began their long retreat."
State of Denial examines how the Bush administration avoided telling the truth about Iraq to the public, to Congress, and often to themselves. Two days after the May report, the Pentagon told Congress, in a report required by law, that the "appeal and motivation for continued violent action will begin to wane in early 2007."
In this detailed inside story of a war-torn White House, Bob Woodward reveals how White House Chief of Staff Andrew Card, with the indirect support of other high officials, tried for 18 months to get Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld replaced. The president and Vice President Cheney refused. At the beginning of Bush's second term, Stephen Hadley, who replaced Condoleezza Rice as national security adviser, gave the administration a "D minus" on implementing its policies. A SECRET report to the new Secretary of State Rice from her counselor stated that, nearly two years after the invasion, Iraq was a "failed state."
State of Denial reveals that at the urging of Vice President Cheney and Rumsfeld, the most frequent outside visitor and Iraq adviser to President Bush is former Secretary of State Henry Kissinger, who, haunted still by the loss in Vietnam, emerges as a hidden and potent voice.
Woodward reveals that the secretary of defense himself believes that the system of coordination among departments and agencies is broken, and in a SECRET May 1, 2006, memo, Rumsfeld stated, "the current system of government makes competence next to impossible."
State of Denial answers the core questions: What happened after the invasion of Iraq? Why? How does Bush make decisions and manage a war that he chose to define his presidency? And is there an achievable plan for victory?
Bob Woodward's third book on President Bush is a sweeping narrative -- from the first days George W. Bush thought seriously about running for president through the recruitment of his national security team, the war in Afghanistan, the invasion and occupation of Iraq, and the struggle for political survival in the second term.
After more than three decades of reporting on national security decision making -- including his two #1 national bestsellers on the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq, Bush at War (2002) and Plan of Attack (2004) -- Woodward provides the fullest account, and explanation, of the road Bush, Cheney, Rumsfeld, Rice and the White House staff have walked.
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Simon & Schuster
October 01, 2006
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Excerpt from State of Denial by Bob Woodward
In the fall of 1997, former President George H. W. Bush, then age 74 and five years out of the White House, phoned one of his closest friends, Prince Bandar bin Sultan, the longtime Saudi Arabian ambassador to the United States.
"Bandar," Bush said, "W. would like to talk to you if you have time. Can you come by and talk to him " His eldest son and namesake, George W. Bush, who had been governor of Texas for nearly three years, was consulting a handful of people about an important decision and wanted to have a private talk.
Bandar's life was built around such private talks. He didn't ask why, though there had been ample media speculation that W. was thinking of running for president. Bandar, 49, had been the Saudi ambassador for 15 years, and had an extraordinary position in Washington. His intensity and networking were probably matched only by former President Bush.
They had built a bond in the 1980s. Bush, the vice president living in the shadow of President Ronald Reagan, was widely dismissed as weak and a wimp, but Bandar treated him with the respect, attention and seriousness due a future president. He gave a big party for Bush at his palatial estate overlooking the Potomac River with singer Roberta Flack providing the entertainment, and went fishing with him at Bush's vacation home in Kennebunkport, Maine -- Bandar's least favorite pastime but something Bush loved. The essence of their relationship was constant contact, by phone and in person.
Like good intelligence officers -- Bush had been CIA director and Bandar had close ties to the world's important spy services -- they had recruited each other. The friendship was both useful and genuine, and the utility and authenticity reinforced each other. During Bush's 1991 Gulf War to oust Saddam Hussein from Kuwait and prevent him from invading neighboring Saudi Arabia, Bandar had been virtually a member of the Bush war cabinet.
At about 4 A.M. on election day 1992, when it looked as if Bush was going to fail in his bid for a second term, Bandar had dispatched a private letter to him saying, You're my friend for life. You saved our country. I feel like one of your family, you are like one of our own. And you know what, Mr. President You win either way. You should win. You deserve to. But if you lose, you are in good company with Winston Churchill, who won the war and lost the election.
Bush called Bandar later that day, about 1 P.M., and said, "Buddy, all day the only good news I've had was your letter." About 12 hours later, in the early hours of the day after the election, Bush called again and said, "It's over."
Bandar became Bush's case officer, rescuing him from his cocoon of near depression. He was the first to visit Bush at Kennebunkport as a guest after he left the White House, and later visited him there twice more. He flew friends in from England to see Bush in Houston. In January 1993 he took Bush to his 32-room mansion in Aspen, Colorado. When the ex-president walked in he found a "Desert Storm Corner," named after the U.S.-led military operation in the Gulf War. Bush's picture was in the middle. Bandar played tennis and other sports with Bush, anything to keep the former president engaged.