By Bob Woodward
Here are some of the highlights that make this book extraordinary and worth reading even if it leaves one with a political hang-over:
1) The Federal Government is broken, and was made worse by a President who knew nothing of foreign policy, a Vice President who closed down the inter-agency policy system, and a Secretary of Defense who was both contemptuous of the uniformed military and held in contempt by Bush Senior.
2) Tenet’s visit to Rice on 10 July is ably recounted and adds to a compelling picture of a dysfunctional National Security Advisor who is now a dysfunctional Secretary of State.
3) The author also tries to resurrect Tenet somewhat, documenting the grave reservations that Tenet had about Iraq, but Tenet, like Colin Powell, failed to speak truth to power or to the people, and failed the Nation.
4) This book destroys the Defense Intelligence Agency, which some say should be burned to the ground to allow a fresh start. The author is brutal in recounting the struggles of General Marks to get the DIA to provide any useful information on the alleged 946 WMD sites in Iraq. The DIA comes across as completely derelict bean counters with no clue how to support operators going in harms way, i.e. to create actionable intelligence.
5) Despite WMD as the alleged basis for war, the military had no unit trained, equipped, or organized to find and neutralize WMD sites. A 400-person artillery unit was pressed into this fearful service.
6) General Jay Garner is the star of this story. My face lit up as I read of his accomplishments, insights, and good judgments. He and General Abizaid both understood that allowing the Iraqi Army to stay in place with some honor was the key to transitioning to peace, and it is clearly documented that Dick Cheney was the undoing of the peace. It was Dick Cheney who fired Garner and put Paul Bremer, idiot pro-consult in place. Garner clearly understood a month before the war — while there was still time to call it off — that the peace was unwinnable absent major changes, but he could not get traction within the ideological fantasyland of the Vice Presidency.
It’s crunch time. This book is the last straw. The American people are now very angry.