Saturday, June 25, 2005

Before the Downing Street Memo, there was Plan of Attack

Bob Woodward's book Plan of Attack made a big splash when it was released, but has largely faded from public discourse. The book is not available on line, so Bob Somerby provides a six part series that reminds us how the book described the Bush Administration fixing the intelligence and facts around the policy, to use the phrasing from the Downing Street Memo. The first four parts don't have their own web pages; to find them follow the links and search for "Downing". The last part has not been posted as I write this, but might be by the time you read this.

Part 1Part 2Part 3Part 4Part 5Part 6

You can also read this old article in Slate, which lists some of the high points of the book, though its selection emphasizes cute over substantive.

My impression of Woodward's books is that his sources are all trying to promote the president or to describe their own successes. And Woodward, for his part, does try to be accurate and complete, and does a pretty good job of getting the real story, including a few things that his souces might rather not see published. He then writes it up using a nonjudgemental writing style that comes across as somewhat lauditory.

Take for example this passage from Bush at War (page 83):

[Rice's] fears were shared by others, which led to a different discussion: Should they think about launching military action elsewhere as an insurance policy in case things in Afghanistan went bad? The would need successes early in the war to maintain domestic and international support.
There's not a hint of outrage that the Bush Administration would consider launching military action for public relations purposes. There's nothing to highlight this scoop. That's why Woodward could include information like this in Bush at War and still get the White House to cooperate with his reseach for his next book, Plan of Attack.


Post a Comment

<< Home