Woodward documents Bush’s many lies about Iraq war

Bob Woodward’s new book, State of Denial, not only shows an out-of-control White House unable to accept reality, it details the lies George W. Bush told the American people about Iraq war progess that wasn’t and an optimistic prognosis that existed only in the President’s mind.

Writes Woodward:

On May 22, 2006, President Bush spoke in Chicago and gave a characteristically upbeat forecast: "Years from now, people will look back on the formation of a unity government in Iraq as a decisive moment in the story of liberty, a moment when freedom gained a firm foothold in the Middle East and the forces of terror began their long retreat."

Two days later, the intelligence division of the Joint Chiefs of Staff circulated a secret intelligence assessment to the White House that contradicted the president’s forecast.

Instead of a "long retreat," the report forecast a more violent 2007: "Insurgents and terrorists retain the resources and capabilities to sustain and even increase current level of violence through the next year."

A graph included in the assessment measured attacks from May 2003 to May 2006. It showed some significant dips, but the current number of attacks against U.S.-led coalition forces and Iraqi authorities was as high as it had ever been — exceeding 3,500 a month. [In July the number would be over 4,500.] The assessment also included a pessimistic report on crude oil production, the delivery of electricity and political progress.

On May 26, the Pentagon released an unclassified report to Congress, required by law, that contradicted the Joint Chiefs’ secret assessment. The public report sent to Congress said the "appeal and motivation for continued violent action will begin to wane in early 2007."

There was a vast difference between what the White House and Pentagon knew about the situation in Iraq and what they were saying publicly. But the discrepancy was not surprising. In memos, reports and internal debates, high-level officials of the Bush administration have voiced their concern about the United States’ ability to bring peace and stability to Iraq since early in the occupation.

[The release last week of portions of a National Intelligence Estimate concluding that the war in Iraq has become a primary recruitment vehicle for terrorists — following a series of upbeat speeches by the president — presented a similar contrast.]

On June 18, 2003, Jay Garner went to see Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld to report on his brief tenure in Iraq as head of the postwar planning office. Throughout the invasion and the early days of the war, Garner, a retired Army lieutenant general, had struggled just to get his team into Iraq. Two days after he arrived, Rumsfeld called to tell him that L. Paul "Jerry" Bremer, a 61-year-old terrorism expert and protege of Henry A. Kissinger, would be coming over as the presidential envoy, effectively replacing Garner.

"We’ve made three tragic decisions," Garner told Rumsfeld.

"Really?" Rumsfeld asked.

"Three terrible mistakes," Garner said.

He cited the first two orders Bremer signed when he arrived, the first one banning as many as 50,000 members of Saddam Hussein’s Baath Party from government jobs and the second disbanding the Iraqi military. Now there were hundreds of thousands of disorganized, unemployed, armed Iraqis running around.

Third, Garner said, Bremer had summarily dismissed an interim Iraqi leadership group that had been eager to help the United States administer the country in the short term. "Jerry Bremer can’t be the face of the government to the Iraqi people. You’ve got to have an Iraqi face for the Iraqi people."

Garner made his final point: "There’s still time to rectify this. There’s still time to turn it around."

Rumsfeld looked at Garner for a moment with his take-no-prisoners gaze. "Well," he said, "I don’t think there is anything we can do, because we are where we are."


  1. Since I am not able to express it in the eloquent fashion that others on this post have, I can only add my voice to the call to elect only Democrats to both the House and the Senate in November. That is the only way we have left to begin to correct the horrendous damage that this present cabal of so-called leaders has brought down upon our beloved land.
    Sit home and continue to complain…or get off your butts and Vote. Clean House and Senate. Throw the rubber-stamp Republicans out.

  2. Vote for Democrats and then watch them like a hawk. The leadership is cashing in on this war just as well. We really need a new constitution that kills unbridled capitalism and a royal supreme court once and for all. It is our cruddy institutions that are really at fault. They breed flies like an outhouse.

  3. Bill Robinson

    I go back to my old solution–one term for all elected officials, including Supreme Court Justices, and that term being one of three years duration. It will stop the long reign of imperial power these arrogant politicians have and their buddy system of protecting one another. Foley was a SIX term congressman. SIX terms. Even the pages and the interns knew enough to avoid him. Three years is enough time for these crooks, and maybe it will eliminate some of the more greedy ones from coming to rob the American people.

  4. Bill C

    Thanks for all the excellent commentary here.
    It’s up to the American people to make their sternest comment in the November elections.
    If we don’t overturn the House and Senate, then we get exactly what we deserve.
    The American people need to take our country back from the terrorists in Washington D.C.

  5. Doubtom

    Who the hell is Bob Woodward anyway? Do all the lies with which every sentient being on earth is familiar, take on more meaning for being mentioned in his book? Who the hell appointed Woodward the “truth guru” to the world anyway?

    Should we now all sigh in unison, knowing that Woodward has confirmed what we already knew? What is it about a columnist that confers this special trustworthiness, especially in these days of totally compromised corporate controlled media?

    Bob, go hawk your book in the 99 cent stores where it rightfully belongs. You’d turn on your mother for a story and a book sale.

  6. judy

    With all the buzz over Woodward’s new book, maybe folks, especially young ones, will read All the Presidents Men, watch the movie and finally get a clue about this Present corrupt administration that gets away with murder. Nixon seems a saint compared to this dangerous Republican.

  7. keith

    Bob Woodward has nailed it. And, as time goes on, it is going to be harder and harder for Mr. Bush and his cronies to keep a lid on the disaster in Iraq that they, themselves, have created.

    Does anyone remember Mr. Bush’s grand announcement at the start of 2006 that the 145,000 troops currently stationed in Iraq would be cut back to 100,000 by the end of the year? It isn’t going to happen. Not only are troop levels not being reduced, but some 8,000 soldiers have just had their 12-month tours of duty extended!

    In fact, since the start of the Iraq war, “dwell time” as it’s called, has been steadily chipped away, going from 24 months between missions down to 18 months, then 14, 12 and, in at least one case, 10 months. There comes a point when you start wearing out your troops because they have no time to recycle. Longer and longer tours away from family also make joining (and remaining in) the military less and less attractive. And, sure enough, recruiting and retention are now plummeting.

    What’s more, in July, an official report revealed that roughly two-thirds of the active-duty US Army was classified as “not ready for combat.” With now roughly one-third of that army deployed, that means the United States now has ZERO combat-ready brigades in reserve. And our Guard and Reserve forces are, likewise, stretched right to the breaking point as they now make up some 20 percent of our war-fighting force.

    So, what about those continued arrogant assurances from Mr. Bush and his ilk that “as the Iraqi forces stand up, we will stand down”? That grand plan isn’t working, either. To date, only 128,000 Iraqi troops have been trained, and, reportedly, there are clear and continuing problems with their loyalty, competence and commitment.

    But, short of an all-out draft, enlarging our own all-volunteer Army at this late date in the war would be a hard sell to an increasingly skeptical U.S. public. And, regardless, even if we started to ramp up recruiting today, it would STILL take two years to ready recruits. If Bush and his cabal had realistically started thinking about this problem three years ago, they’d have the size of army they needed now to effectively combat the insurgents. But, unfortunately, THAT would have also required them to realistically plan for such a contingency.

    THIS, my friends, is why the insurgency in Iraq is now growing and why Mr. Bush and his cabal are now frantically trying to buy time and hope we’ll continue swallowing their oft-repeated lie that we are “winning”. The truth is that we are losing this war…on all fronts. What’s more, we have no hope of “winning” anytime soon because, thanks to Mr. Bush and his crony’s own lack of foresight and planning, the insurgents are now outstripping the US’s ability to effectively fight back.

  8. SEAL

    Today, My best friend and I were discussing the troop situation in Iraq from a the view of the troops. Between us we have about 45 years of service, both retired now, of course. He was special forces and I was a SEAL. We met many years ago in Nam and have kept in touch as we bounced around the world.

    I’m in Florida and he in Alaska, about 4000 miles apart, but we talk on our keybords 2-3 times a week. Naturally, our concerns are the men on the ground. What we see that you never hear about is how our guys are being abused. Deliberately abused! They are still using the same armament that we found to be inadequate at the beginning of this fiasco. The same tactics we started with are being employed. That’s something that just doesn’t happen. You always learn and adjust to your enemy. Our guys are being rotated back in so quick they are literally being worn out, overstressed. That causes many “bad” things to happen.

    For instance, the recent publisized slaughter of a house full of civilians. From experience we can tell you that was no isolated incident, just one that the press found out about. Its virtually impossible for the press to know what the hell is going on over there because the military won’t allow them outside the Green Zone. Their only hope is that someone coming in from the field will talk to them. But they’re all under strict orders to keep their mouths shut. But that is only one aspect. A stressed out soldier in battle makes mistakes that get him killed or wounded. Or, he fires on the wrong people, civilians or even his own men or he doesn’t fire and someone dies because of it.

    Getting wounded is only the beginning of the abuse. The type of injuries that are coming out of this are unique due to the roadside and suicide bombs. The body armor is keeping them from being killed from the blasts. Consequently we have an unprecedented number of blinded or severely brain damaged or vets missing arms and legs. Also, the percent of “combat fatigue” cases is disproportionately high. Men being pushed beyond their ability to cope with it who will permanently have the problem. Not only has there been no expansion of the facility or sevices for any of these,they have been reduced and, in some cases, certain items have been disallowed for benefits. add to that the Pentagon has closed some VA hospitals which makes it more difficult and expensive for vets to access treatment due to the distance they or their family has to travel.

    As two vets on full disability we can relate to these problems. We understand what our guys are going through and the effects the mismanagement of this so called war is having on them. It disturbs us that the press has totally ignored it. Never before in the history of this country has an administration failed to provide adequate care for the wounded vets. Never before has the standing order of the day been so abusive for the troops in the field. And never before has their been so much secrecy, so much information withheld from the press and public. The guys I’ve talked to coming back tell me they have been threatened with the most severe penalties if they talk to anyone. In fact they are given prepared statements that are 180 degrees out from the truth. They all say the orders come straight from Rumsfeld.

    I still have a lot of friends at various levels in the military. The word I get from them is there is no way we can keep a lid on what is happening there. Its a full blown civil war and has been for quite a while. Anyone that has spent any real time in the Middle East countries as I have will tell you that what this group of incompetants are publicly committed to is impossible to accomplish. You cannot bring our brand of “democracy” to these countries. They will be governed (or ruled) by the most powerful and ruthless religious group. They always have been and probably always will be. Even if they had instituted a draft and put enough troops on the ground to actually force a democratic form of government it would not change the outcome. The government would swing to one religion and become a democratic dictatorship. If we left there would be a blood bath of civil war or a purge until one side held all the power. There fore placing our troops in the country is to misuse and abuse them.

    This is not what our military is for. Its supposed to be for defense. We have the finest fighting force in the history of the world and this bunch of clown are destroying it. They have reduced the criteria for enlistment to the point where we will have a dumbed down and over-the-hill military that is only a shadow of what it was. The long term affect will be important if we are faced with a real enemy to fight. The affects of this administration will be felt for many years. It makes us old soldiers very sad.

  9. Ray

    The current administration is not only abusing our troops but also it’s citizens. Three thousand americans on 911. Three thousand troops in Iraq and a few hundred in Afganistan. There is no planned withdrawal. The whole plan for the new century is world domination and a police state at home. Bush is an absolute failure for benefitting this nation, but is a total success for the secret agenda he follows. I hate to say, but we have seen nothing yet. We live in interesting times. Big change is coming and I fear it will not be Good.


  10. len

    Bush will be in power until mid January 2009. Only God knows what action this master of denial will order in the coming months.

    We need a Democratic House and a Democratic Senate to take over in January ’07 that can impeach and remove this man.

  11. len

    Bush will be in power until mid January 2009. Only God knows what action this master of denial will order in the coming months.

    We need a Democratic House and a Democratic Senate to take over in January ’07 that can impeach and remove this man.

  12. JimZ

    SEAL, I read your post and am sad for our troops that they could be under such evil incompetents in a questionable war used for questionable purposes, such as using the lies to justify the war, to justify taking our freedoms and civil rights away at home. The human costs to both U.S. troops and Iraqis will be felt for decades to come.

    The VA health system has always had weaknesses but it will be hard to believe they are up to the task of all the fallout from this war. All we get is more lies for digestion from this administration.

    I do want to differ with you on one point, the government of the U.S. has a long tradition of not coming through on their promises for former troops, going all the way back to the Continental Army in the Revolutionary War. Most of these historical points are conveniently erased from our collective history sources but there are some around that document it. One such source is “A People’s History of the United States” by Howard Zinn. If you read it, you’ll never look at our history the same way again.

    That aside, let’s all hope we can get out of this disaster in Iraq sooner rather than later, and get our troops home.

  13. Bill Robinson

    Well, this column has been saying that Bush/Cheney/Rumsfeld/Rice have been lying to us for a long, long, long, long time. Now Bob Woodward comes along and says the same thing and will make money by saying it in a book we have to buy to hear the same thing Doug says for free. Something wrong with that equation?

  14. To suggest these crooks were in denial gives them the benefit of the doubt. Crooks don’t care about facts, ideas, or honor, unless they can use them in some way like commodities to suit their purposes. CROOKS ONLY SEEK ADVANTAGE. Now Bush has the power to wack anyone thanks to the GOP mafia. Do you still want to see these people as just well meaning fools?