November 20, 2002

Woodward on Bush

The Washington Post published an interview by Bob Woodward with George W. from Woodward's new book, "Bush At War." Any book by Bob Woodward must be looked at with extreme skepticism, though he has been painted as a legendary journalistic crusader who brought down the tyrant Nixon through a noble search for the truth. This legend is like other legends, mostly a lot of pap. What actually went on in Watergate is still shrouded in mystery and murkiness. Typically, the pardon of Nixon issued by his buddy Gerald Ford obscured the real history of the mountain of abuses euphemistically called "Watergate."

To touch briefly on the misconceptions and deceptions associated with the public image of Watergate, Woodward was not what he presented himself to be. Before he was a "reporter" he was a naval intelligence operative who was a liaison between the White House and the Joint Chiefs of Staff. He was a briefer for General Alexander Haig.

Back to that later -- quickly a few quotes from his Bush interview.

"Listen, I am a product of the Vietnam world," says George. "There is a very fine line between micromanaging combat and setting the tactics" on one hand, and "to kind of make sure there is a sense of, not urgency, but sense of purpose and forward movement."

The nerve. The nerve of George W. Bush to call himself, "a product of the Vietnam world." In what way? In what imaginable way is George W. Bush a product of the Vietnam world? It is public record and is not seriously disputed that George W. Bush had strings pulled for him so that he could avoid going to Vietnam by serving the the Texas National Guard. This is documented by sworn testimony in an unrelated trial. This was not a man who was interested in war. At least not from the bottom end of it. For him to call himself "a product of the Vietnam world," is an insult to the men who really did put their lives on the line to fight in that misguided war.

It is also well established that Bush was grounded for failing to take a physical, and then just failed to show up for the last year of his military commitment.

For a good summary of the information available about George W. Bush's military career see, The Smoking Jet.

George Bush has no business sending other young men to war, unless the United States was really attacked. And Iraq did not attack the United States. No one even pretends that this is the case. The Mad Hatter George W. is trying to tell us we must attack Iraq because the country could have weapons that could hurt us. What insanity.

George W. Bush does not have the knowledge, experience, moral authority or strength of character to send other men to die. His campaign for war is a lie, and it will come out in the end. And he will have been the man who sent other people to a war that was not for protection of the country, as alleged, but for the purpose of seizing and controlling oil supplies.

More of Bush's words, as per Woodward.

"One of my jobs is to be provocative," says Bush. "Seriously, to provoke people into -- to force decisions, and to make sure it's clear in everybody's mind where we're headed. There was a certain rhythm and flow to this, and I was beginning to get a little frustrated. . . . It was just not coming together as quickly as we had hoped. And I was trying to force the issue without compromising safety."

Of course we have no idea whether George W. Bush actually said this or if it was Woodward's interpretation of what Bush is supposed to have said, or just a semi-fictional PR piece by Woodward. This is the image of Bush as a brilliant, mastermind leader, as he is presented in the propaganda.

In my opinion, this is intelligence community veteran Bob Woodward doing a PR job for his buddy George Bush, the son of the other George Bush, who is the Big Man on Campus in the intelligence community.

If we are to assume Bush really said this, he is pushing people, as he says, "to force decisions, and to make sure it's clear in everybody's mind where we're headed." He is talking about pushing people to make decisions, but there is no sense that he himself has any clear idea "where we're headed" (other than into war and more war). So pushing and provoking might actually be worse than doing nothing.

Looking at George W.'s history there is just no reason to presume that he he has any experience that would qualify him or temper him for such decisions over the life and death of other men, women and children. We are forced to consider that he is what he appears to be, an empty face that serves as a front person for a coalition of corporate interest groups.

It is Woodward's job, like most of the establishment press, to bolster the illusion that George W. Bush is a brilliant leader. In this imaginary scenario, Woodward asks Bush whether he had explained his reasons for a particular action. Bush's response: "Of course not. I'm the commander -- see, I don't need to explain -- I do not need to explain why I say things. That's the interesting thing about being the president. Maybe somebody needs to explain to me why they say something, but I don't feel like I owe anybody an explanation."


This is a very revealing message. The Bush machine is telling us through its puppetface George W. that its decision making process is none of We The People's business.

If one takes for a moment Woodward's background in Naval Intelligence as an indicator of where his true loyalties might lie, his writing career makes sense. Forget for a second that he was considered to be liberal just because his and Carl Bernstein's reporting on Watergate were instrumental in bringing down the Republican Nixon.

Actually Nixon's removal from office was nothing to do with his being a Republican or Democrat, it was because of crimes, and abuses of power. And seen in perspective of his entire career, it is very doubtful that Woodward's motivations, his loyalties and his sources were quite those of a disinterested reporter concerned only with reporting the truth about abuses of power. Woodward was already closely connected with some of the most powerful men behind the scenes, brushing shoulders with Haig, Kissinger and the Joint Chiefs of Staff in his daily work.

Woodward's career since Watergate clearly does not follow the trajectory of the kind of character portrayed by the legend. His books since that period all glorify and support the agenda of the establishment that the Bushes are a principle part of.

His book Veil was supposedly an expose of the CIA, but instead of looking in a challenging way at the agency, it creates a mystique about it and portrays it heroically. It is not a portrait by a tough investigative reporter. Woodward's book on the Bush machine during the Gulf War, The Commanders, also mythologizes the war and portrays Bush and his men as Homeric heroes.

Woodward wrote a book on Clinton and it totally bolstered the Rush Limbaugh-Henry Hyde-Ken Starr view of Clinton as the ultimate Big Game to be hunted and brought down.

The Agenda: Inside the Clinton White House literally opens with a bedroom scene in the White House. Woodward opens the book as a narrator in the bedroom of Bill and Hillary Clinton. He never bothers to explain to us how it is that he is able to tell us what happened in Bill and Hillary Clinton's bedroom. He doesn't cite an authority. Nor does he give us an explanatory note why he is presenting a piece of political journalism in the form of a Dickensian tale.

There is no way in my mind to justify Woodward's presumption that he can tell us what went on in the Clinton's bedroom and have us believe him on no other authority than the fact that he said it. He doesn't even attempt to bolster it. How can he be taken seriously?

Woodward's penchant for spinning yarns, and his waiving of any obligation to source or verify his claims are characteristic of his whole career. (See The Columbia Journalism Review for a discussion of these issues with Woodward.)

So now when Woodward tells us the story about his virtual fraternity brother George W., I have no reason to think he is doing anything different from what he has done in the past, promoting an agenda that represents the elite that the intelligence community works for.

For more on Watergate, Woodward, Naval Intelligence, etc. see and

Here are some excerpts from an interview with Jim Hougan, author of Secret Agenda: Watergate, Deep Throat and the CIA, about his discovery of Woodward's secret Naval Intelligence career:

How did you uncover Bob Woodward's secret career as a military briefer?

Hougan: It was simply a matter of doing investigative reporting. Watergate itself was such a fairy tale as it was reported in the nation's press, and the press was so self-congratulatory about their heroic role--I should say our heroic role--that little or no serious scrutiny was given to questions involving, for example, Deep Throat and whether or not Deep Throat had a political agenda of his own. That's the height of naivete. Obviously all reporters have sources, and their sources have different reasons for telling reporters different things. Clearly, the people who made up Deep Throat had their own agendas, and those agendas needed to be and deserved to be scrutinized. I think Woodward did a disservice to history by failing to identify his sources there.

So you turned the investigative spotlight onto Woodward.

Hougan: In writing about Watergate I thought it a good idea to apply some of the techniques of investigative reporting to some of the reporters, specifically to Woodward and Bernstein, who played a key role in shaping our perception of the Watergate affair. And in doing that, I learned Woodward had been in the Navy. And basically he dismissed his naval career as a sort of a biographical footnote of no importance--that it was very boring, that he didn't meet anyone, etc, etc. But then of course you find out that he's presiding over the code room of the chief of naval operations in Washington, with access to, among other things, Henry Kissinger's secret cable traffic in 1970. I mean, this is astonishing. And certainly worth reporting.

These connections were also explored in the book Silent Coup by Len Colodny and Robert Gettlin. Colodny and Gettlin said interviews with former Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Admiral Thomas Moorer, former Secretary of Defense Melvin Laird , and former Defense Department spokesman Jerry Friedheim establish that Woodward lied about his relationship with Haig.

For a discussion of Silent Coup in Columbia Journalism Review, click here.

See also:
Uri Dowbenko Dick: Clueless at Watergate

Back to Home Page