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White House rebuts Iraq book

Woodward's take is 'at best incomplete,' says an official, who doesn't address spying claims.

September 06, 2008|From the Washington Post

WASHINGTON — The White House on Friday disputed several elements of a new book detailing internal administration battles over Iraq, saying that a news story about the book wrongly portrayed President Bush as detached from decision-making and misleading in his public statements about the war.

The book by Washington Post Associate Editor Bob Woodward, "The War Within: A Secret White House History, 2006-2008," depicts a divided administration slow to confront deterioration of its Iraq strategy in the summer and early fall of 2006. The book, due out Monday, also says Bush privately believed U.S. efforts were failing during that period, even while declaring publicly that the war was being won.

In a statement, national security advisor Stephen J. Hadley disputes several of the book's main themes, reported in a Post article Friday.

The statement does not address the allegation that the Bush administration spied has on Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri Maliki, his staff and others in the Baghdad government.

Hadley calls Woodward's portrayal of Iraq war policy "at best incomplete." He says that Bush "acknowledged the violence in his public statements and discussed what we were doing about it" in 2006 and that "there were positive developments that suggested our strategy at the time might work" until that fall.

Hadley disputes the contention that Bush was largely detached from an internal Iraq strategy review in late 2006, saying the president "drove the process." He also says it is "not true" that the review was kept secret to avoid damaging GOP chances in the midterm elections.

Finally, Hadley writes that the Post article about the book was wrong in saying that an increase in U.S. troops in Iraq, beginning in early 2007, was not the primary reason violence has dropped in that country. Hadley reiterates the White House's contention that the buildup in troops was crucial.

Woodward responded that "the book and the article in the Post are fully supported by reporting, documents, interviews and the president's own words."

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