Plan of Attack is the definitive account of how and why President George W. Bush, his war council, and allies launched a preemptive attack to topple Saddam Hussein and occupy Iraq. Bob Woodward's latest landmark account of Washington decision making provides an original, authoritative narrative of behind-the-scenes maneuvering over two years, examining the causes and consequences of the most controversial war since Vietnam. Based on interviews with 75 key participants and more than three and a half hours of exclusive interviews with President Bush, Plan of Attack is part presidential history charting the decisions made during 16 critical months; part military history revealing precise details and the evolution of the Top Secret war planning under the restricted codeword Polo Step; and part a harrowing spy story as the CIA dispatches a covert paramilitary team into northern Iraq six months before the start of the war. This team recruited 87 Iraqi spies designated with the cryptonym DB/ROCKSTARS, one of whom turned over the personnel files of all 6,000 men in Saddam Hussein's personal security organization. What emerges are astonishingly intimate portraits: President Bush in war cabinet meetings in the White House Situation Room and the Oval Office, and in private conversation; Dick Cheney, the focused and driven vice president; Colin Powell, the conflicted and cautious secretary of state; Donald Rumsfeld, the controlling war technocrat; George Tenet, the activist CIA director; Tommy Franks, the profane and demanding general; Condoleezza Rice, the ever-present referee and national security adviser; Karl Rove, the hands-on political strategist; other key members of the White House staff and congressional leadership; and foreign leaders ranging from British Prime Minister Blair to Russian President Putin. Plan of Attack provides new details on the intelligence assessments of Iraq's alleged weapons of mass destruction and the planning for the war's aftermath.
Many people can second-guess the President but with the recently declassified papers of the High Value detainees at Gitmo there is no doubt his actions saved many innocent lives. The U.S. bore the brunt of the war on terror in the shedding of American blood and treasure. The MSM wants to indict Bush and his players in the court of popular opinion but Woodward is true to form. He informs readers of what the principals said and leaves their words untarnished and without editorializing. The extreme risk of danger required a President who is decisive and acts on the information available at the time. Iraq, in context, was a much greater threat of harboring WMD or promoting those who would use these weapons against the U.S.
This beholden-ness to special sources weakens his writing, but less so here than in Bush at War. Read Bush at War next to his latest book--can these possibily be the same people? What ever happened to the Harvard Business School President? What ever happened to all that competency?
This is another great look behind the curtain of a presidential administration. This book takes you right to the heart of the matter of the Iraqi conflict. Woodward shows just how much restraint the president used rather than running to war as most had feared. There is a lot here to pay attention to as it relates to the relationships with the president and how he responds to the demands from each person. Woodward pulls all of those ends together.
If this book proves one thing, it is the media’s agenda setting power.
No one or nothing can tell Americans what to think. The media, however, can be singularly successful at telling Americans what to think about. If you doubt this, simply take a look at this book’s reviews. Everyone has an opinion and my hunch is that none of those opinions were changed by their reading of the book.
There is no doubt that Woodward is a gifted reporter. Not only does he possess access to the key players, but also the ability to gain their confidence. Sources talk to Woodward. Once he garners the sources recollections of what happened, he relates to the reader in a clear and concise fashion.
At a time when we are being asked to place our children in harm's way, in a part of the world that few of us have even visited, serious policy questions come to mind. A book affords the proper media for questions of this nature to be explored. Bob Woodward, true to his journalistic training, does not venture here. Rather, the reader is given a blow-by-blow account of the stage entrances and exits of key Washington players reconstructed from interviews and notes of the players.
There is no thoughtful review of the questions raised. These are conclusions I can draw from reading my daily newspaper. I recognize that television's pervasive influence has forced other media outlets to adapt a tabloid view of the world in order to compete for eyeballs. The type of book I want to read takes longer to prepare, if it is going to be done well.
Clearly Bob Woodward and his publisher did not have that luxury. The market is hot; the public is being subjected to a cascade of Bush bashing books. Clearly a newspaper, like the Washington Post where the author serves as Assistant Managing Editor, provides the best medium to distribute this type of detailed reporting. But then again, that cuts out the book publisher.
It is at times like this when I recognize how old-fashioned I have become. Quality reporting belongs in the pages of a quality daily newspaper where it can be published in a timely fashion. Books should be reserved for the policy questions raised by that reporting.
The good news is given the facts, the American public has the capacity to sort and arrive at a conclusion. The question this book raises is why we have to wait for a book to be published to have access to them.