Find Post Investigations On:
Facebook Scribd Twitter
Friendfeed RSS Google Reader
» About This Blog | Meet the Investigative Team | Subscribe
Ongoing Investigation

Top Secret America

The Post explores the top secret world the government created in response to the attacks of Sept. 11.

Ongoing Investigation

The Hidden Life of Guns

How guns move through American society, from store counter to crime scene.

Have a Tip?

Talk to Us

If you have solid tips, news or documents on potential ethical violations or abuses of power, we want to know. Send us your suggestions.
• E-mail Us


Post Investigations
In-depth investigative news
and multimedia from The Washington Post.
• Special Reports
• The Blog

Reporters' Notebook
An insider's guide to investigative news: reporters offer insights on their stories.

The Daily Read
A daily look at investigative news of note across the Web.

Top Picks
A weekly review of the best
in-depth and investigative reports from across the nation.

Hot Documents
Court filings, letters, audits and other documents of interest.

D.C. Region
Post coverage of investigative news in Maryland, Virginia and the District.

Washington Watchdogs
A periodic look into official government investigations.

Help! What Is RSS?
Find out how to follow Post Investigations in your favorite RSS reader.

Hot Comments

Unfortunately I believe that we are limited in what we can focus on. I think that if we proceed with the partisan sideshow of prosecuting Bush admin. officials, healthcare will get lost in the brouhaha.
— Posted by denamom, Obama's Quandary...

Recent Posts
Bob Woodward

The Washington Post's permanent investigative unit was set up in 1982 under Bob Woodward.

See what you missed, find what you're looking for.
Blog Archive »
Investigations Archive »

Have a Tip?
Send us information on ethics violations or abuses of power.
E-Mail Us »

Notable investigative projects from other news outlets.
On the Web »
Top Picks »

Bush's Legacy in Iraq

POSTED: 07:01 PM ET, 01/13/2009 by Derek Kravitz

The White House said in 2003 that it had helped with the production of a "Mission Accomplished" banner as a backdrop for President George W. Bush's speech aboard the USS Abraham Lincoln to declare combat operations over in Iraq. This file photo shows Bush delivering a speech to crew aboard the aircraft carrier, as the carrier steamed toward San Diego on May 1, 2003. (Reuters / Larry Downing)

President George W. Bush says history will be the final judge of the success, or lack thereof, of the Iraq War.

Bob Woodward, the investigative reporter who has authored four books on Bush's presidency, agrees that the legacy of the war has yet to be determined. He calls the conflict a "war of choice" that hasn't come to a conclusion.

"As we know the war is not over, 146,000 troops there, almost the same number of civilian contractors," Woodward said. "It is a massive land army presence in the heart of the Middle East. Gen. (David) Petraeus is keeping that large force there because he know it's not over, it's not stabilized."

Woodward said Bush's decision to invade Iraq in March 2003 was part of his "freedom agenda" and that the president believed he had "really pulled something off that was going to be important."

"You had the support, the encouragement of Cheney, the intelligence community saying Saddam has weapons of mass destruction," Woodward said during a Post roundtable discussion on Bush and Vice President Dick Cheney's legacies. "And Bush looked at this as an opportunity."

In his closing news conference yesterday, Bush acknowledged that historians were poised to analyze every facet of his decision-making, including his then-unpopular decision to commit an additional 30,000 troops in 2007.

"The situation was, looked like it was going fine, and then violence for a period of time began to throw, throw the progress of Iraq into doubt," he said.

"And rather than accepting the status quo and saying, 'Oh, it's not worth it,' or 'the politics makes it difficult,' or, you know, 'the party may end up being -- you know, not doing well in the elections because of the violence in Iraq,' I decided to do something about it and sent 30,000 troops in as opposed to withdrawing." (A year before, U.S. officials estimated 1,000 attacks per week on U.S.-led forces. The surge helped stabilize the war-torn country and has caused the number of troop deaths to drop.)

The Bush-Cheney Legacy
The Washington Post's key coverage of George W. Bush's presidency, plus, a roundtable discussion by the Post's Bob Woodward and Barton Gellman.

CNN reports on an Iraqi television journalist who threw his shoes at President Bush during a news conference in Baghdad on Dec. 14

The war began in 2003, and less than two months later, Bush declared victory aboard an aircraft carrier behind a giant banner that read: "Mission Accomplished." That speech, and the banner, have been cited by Bush several times as a mistake.

Likewise, Bush has spoken more candidly in recent days about the erroneous government intelligence claiming there were weapons of mass destruction in Iraq and the political environment following the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks.

"A lot of people put their reputations on the line and said the weapons of mass destruction is a reason to remove Saddam Hussein," Bush told ABC News in a December interview. "It wasn't just people in my administration. A lot of members in Congress, prior to my arrival in Washington, D.C., during the debate on Iraq, a lot of leaders of nations around the world were all looking at the same intelligence. I wish the intelligence had been different, I guess."

More than 4,200 American soldiers have been killed in combat in Iraq since 2003 and the war has cost more than $650 billion, according to budget estimates.

"There was a sense that we had to do something," Woodward said, describing the mood before the war began. "There was a sense that was valid that Saddam was a bad actor. But when you look back on that, and study it and study particularly the neglect and the failure to manage the aftermath, it's hard to look at it as a good thing."

Bush's time as commander-in-chief ended with a little-known Iraqi television journalist throwing his shoes at Bush during a Dec. 14 joint news conference with Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki, an incident that seemed to encapsulate Bush's status in the region.

By Derek Kravitz |  January 13, 2009; 7:01 PM ET The Bush-Cheney Legacy
Previous: How a U.S. Attorney Went After 'Crazy Libs' | Next: Official Cites Detainee Torture, New Bias Alleged at Justice Dept., Geithner Grilled on Taxes


Please email us to report offensive comments.

What a horrable, terrible mess. The Bush Administration assured us that the Iraqi's were amassing WMD. There were NONE. Everything the inspectors on the ground and IAEA turned out to be true. They had no proof. What have we become in only 8 years. War without proof. Spying on our own civilians and holding prisoners without being charged.
01.20.09 will be a day I will remember the rest of my life.
It will be important to not let the fog of time change history.

Posted by: hilotc | January 13, 2009 9:20 PM

Obama can be given a pass for not wishing to look backward.

The rest of the country, however, should look back.
Too many pieces of the system need fixing to let things slide.

Posted by: JamesRaider | January 13, 2009 9:28 PM

The assessment of Bush's legacy on the Iraq War from the US point of view has been a constant over the previous several years. There is no census and may never be.

I hope that the Washington Post would publish more about the perspective of Iraqi people. How do they feel about the War?

Perhaps we Americans are demonstrating our propensity to focus on ourselves rather than the people who have a perspective closest to the actual impact.

Can you facilitate a dialogue inclusive of Iraqi opinion on the Bush legacy of the War?

Posted by: leehwenke | January 14, 2009 10:01 AM

bush was wrong even if we bring democracy and replace sadam hussein

almost all of the discussion of iraq and bush nowadays misses the point.... even if we achieve any goal it did not have to be done by bombing civilian locations and causing thousands of iraqi non military deaths!!!!

please, lets get clear on this before we all get lost in the huge but secondary issues

lets not forget the real total cost of the war and the so called 'non combat' deaths of our troops and the thousands that are severely wounded

please please please let get this painful war lesson right!!!

Posted by: jbridges1 | January 14, 2009 12:56 PM

Post a Comment

We encourage users to analyze, comment on and even challenge's articles, blogs, reviews and multimedia features.

User reviews and comments that include profanity or personal attacks or other inappropriate comments or material will be removed from the site. Additionally, entries that are unsigned or contain "signatures" by someone other than the actual author will be removed. Finally, we will take steps to block users who violate any of our posting standards, terms of use or privacy policies or any other policies governing this site. Please review the full rules governing commentaries and discussions.

characters remaining


© 2010 The Washington Post Company