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Woodward Book: Doubts About Iraq Strategy

POSTED: 01:40 PM ET, 09/ 8/2008 by The Editors

In the summer of 2006, with violence exploding in Iraq, Bush administration officials and military leaders were deeply divided about the course of the conflict. Daily life in Iraq had descended into chaos, with 1,000 attacks a week.

Despite assurances from Gen. George W. Casey Jr., the commander in Iraq, that the county would stabilize, Bush acknowledged to himself that the military strategy was not working. In October, he agreed to a secret review of the war strategy, but no one from the Defense Department or from the military was included.

The divisions over strategy are described in journalist Bob Woodward's most recent book on the Bush White House, excerpted in The Post Sept. 7 - Sept. 10.

The book, "The War Within: A Secret White House History, 2006-2008," reports that over much of the past two years, the U.S. has spied on Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki, his staff and others in the Iraqi government. In response to that news, which was reported in a Post story Friday, Iraqi officials expressed disappointment and said, if true, it could damage the trust between Bush and Maliki.

In an excerpt running today, Woodward reports the behind-the-scenes debate preceding the surge in troops Bush announced in January 2007.

On one side of the debate were military leaders, including Casey and the Joint Chiefs of Staff. On the other, were White House officials, including National Security Adviser Stephen J. Hadley, who led a quiet campaign with the president's blessing to promote the surge.

The surge, Woodward reports, was just one reason for the drop in violence in Iraq in 2007. Equally, or perhaps more important, he said, were top-secret intelligence operations enabling agencies to locate and kill key insurgent leaders.

By The Editors |  September 8, 2008; 1:40 PM ET Post Investigations
Previous: Palin's 'Troopergate' Investigation Facing Obstacles | Next: Videos Challenge U.S. Version of Afghan Casualties

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