White House quarrels with Woodward

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The White House released an unusual 700-word statement Friday evening that charges author Bob Woodward with distorting the effectiveness of the Iraq “surge” policy in his new book, “The War Within: A Secret White House History 2006-2008,” set for publication Monday.

The statement is extremely surprising because it was issued by National Security Adviser Stephen J. Hadley, who shepherded Woodward’s interaction with the West Wing and encouraged top administration officials to grant interviews to the celebrity investigator.

President Bush, Vice President Cheney, Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, Defense Secretary Robert Gates and a host of underlings gave interviews to Woodward. The White House had been optimistic that the book would reflect glowingly on the president, although that optimism waned when the book’s title was announced last month.

Hadley does not quarrel with Woodward’s facts — only his interpretation. Specifically, he argues that the surge policy helped calm down Iraq, while the book says other factors were at play.

“Because of the President's decision, Iraq is a much more stable and secure country today,” Hadley says in the statement. “Because of this success, the President announced earlier this year that five brigade combat teams would return home, a policy of ‘return on success.’ The President is now weighing options to bring more troops home based on the improved conditions on the ground, but without sacrificing the hard fought gains of the last year.”

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