The White House ignored an urgent warning in September 2003 from a top Iraq adviser who said that thousands of additional American troops were desperately needed to quell the insurgency there, according to a new book by Bob Woodward, the Washington Post reporter and author. The book describes a White House riven by dysfunction and division over the war.
The warning is described in “State of Denial,” scheduled for publication on Monday by Simon & Schuster. The book says President Bush’s top advisers were often at odds among themselves, and sometimes were barely on speaking terms, but shared a tendency to dismiss as too pessimistic assessments from American commanders and others about the situation in Iraq.
As late as November 2003, Mr. Bush is quoted as saying of the situation in Iraq: “I don’t want anyone in the cabinet to say it is an insurgency. I don’t think we are there yet.”
Robert D. Blackwill, then the top Iraq adviser on the National Security Council, is said to have issued his warning about the need for more troops in a lengthy memorandum sent to Ms. Rice. The book says Mr. Blackwill’s memorandum concluded that more ground troops, perhaps as many as 40,000, were desperately needed.
It says that Mr. Blackwill and L. Paul Bremer III, then the top American official in Iraq, later briefed Ms. Rice and Stephen J. Hadley, her deputy, about the pressing need for more troops during a secure teleconference from Iraq. It says the White House did nothing in response.
* sanger on woodward via laura:
"The fruitless search for unconventional weapons caused tension between Vice President Cheney’s office, the C.I.A. and officials in Iraq. Mr. Woodward wrote that Mr. Kay, the chief weapons inspector in Iraq, e-mailed top C.I.A. officials directly in the summer of 2003 with his most important early findings.
At one point, when Mr. Kay warned that it was possible the Iraqis might have had the capability to make such weapons but did not actually produce them, waiting instead until they were needed, the book says he was told by John McLaughlin, the C.I.A.’s deputy director: “Don’t tell anyone this. This could be upsetting. Be very careful. We can’t let this out until we’re sure.”"
* laura on abramoff:
"The House Government Reform committee has released hundreds of emails from its Abramoff investigation. The investigation reveals 485 contacts between team Abramoff and the Bush White House. Via Muckraker, one email reveals Rove killed an interior department nomination at the request of Abramoff. Is that a quid pro quo? Or just a favor?happy election season, fuckers.
Update: Skimming these, this is shocking stuff. The buying of influence at pretty high levels of the White House. And so sloppy! Check out page 13 of the .pdf here. Abramoff to his staffer, Kevin Ring. "Dammit. It was sent to Susan [Ralston, Rove's aide] on her mc pager and was not supposed to go into the WH system." Ring to Abramoff: "Your email to Susan was forwarded to .... She said it it is better not to put this stuff in writing in their [the White house] email system because it might actually limit what they can do to help us, especially since there could be law suits, etc. Who knows?" They seem to express knowledge of potentially improper or illegal activity as it was happening.
The email on page 16 is kind of funny. From Abramoff staffer Kevin Ring to Team Abramoff, subject line: Problem at White House. "Just wanted to let everyone know of a disturbing problem I just learned about at the White House. The Intergovernmental Affairs Office just had their ethics briefing and when it was all said and done, they concluded that they should NEVER call lobbyists anymore." Oops. "Will call tribes directly." Then Mr. Ring proposes a solution. "I am going to have lunch with Susan Ralston this week and will explain the problem to her. ..."
Ralston to Abramoff March 11, 2003: "We have some guests coming to town Fri, 3/28 and Sat 3/29. Anything going on at the MCI Center?" Abramoff promptly responds.
Email page 43, Ring gets some Camden Yards opening day tickets for White House staffers Jim Wilkinson (2), and Jennifer Farley (2). A few pages later, Farley while still at the WH lets Team Abramoff know she might be interested in a job."