The 2003 American invasion of Iraq was contentious, not just in the arena of global public opinion, but within the tight-lipped world of the George W Bush White House. As Bob Woodward reveals in Plan of Attack
, Vice-President Dick Cheney and Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld were part of a group leading the charge to war while Secretary of State Colin Powell, General Tommy Franks, and others actively questioned the plan to invade a country that had nothing to do with the 9/11 attacks while war in Afghanistan was still being waged.
Woodward gained extensive access to dozens of key figures and enjoyed hours of direct contact with the President himself (more time, seemingly, than former Bush administration officials Richard Clarke and Paul O'Neill claim to have had). As a result, he's able to cite the kind of gossip you won't find in a White House press release: Franks calls Pentagon official Douglas Feith "the f*cking stupidest guy on the face of the earth", Powell shares his alarm over how the cautious Cheney of the first Bush administration had transformed into a zealot, and Saudi Ambassador Prince Bandar seems to enjoy significantly more influence than most would have thought possible.
Bush is shown as a man intent on toppling Saddam Hussein in the immediate aftermath of 9/11 and never really wavering in his decision despite offering hints that non-military solutions could be achieved. Light is also shed on CIA director George Tenet, who insists that the evidence that Saddam had weapons of mass destruction was "a slam dunk" only to later admit that his intelligence was flawed when months of post-war searches turned up nothing. But the book's most interesting character is Powell. A former soldier himself, who finds himself increasingly at odds with the agenda of the administration, Powell rejects evidence on WMDs that he sees as spurious but ultimately endorses the invasion effort, apparently out of duty.
Upon its publication, the Bush administration roundly denied many of the accounts in the book that demonstrated conflict within their circles, poor judgment, or lousy planning, but the Bush/Cheney re-election campaign nonetheless listed Plan of Attack as recommended reading. And it is. It shows alarming problems in the way the war was conceived and planned, but it also demonstrates the tremendous conviction and dedication of the people who decided to carry it out. --John Moe, Amazon.com
About the Author
Bob Woodward is Assistant Managing Editor at THE WASHINGTON POST. His Pulitzer Prize-winning Watergate reporting is said to have set the standard for modern investigative reporting. Over the last 22 years he has authored or co-authored seven No 1 internationally bestselling books.