View Full Version : And speaking of career gov't mouthpiece Bob Woodward...

Myra Bronstein
10-02-2010, 09:35 AM
As interesting as this whole article is the most interesting part is the summary of the real Watergate. I've long had a vague knowledge that it was a coup, but this clears up the vagueness.

[Emphasis mine.]


Bob Woodward's Dark Side -- Famed Reporter Carries Water for the Pentagon By Russ Baker (http://www.alternet.org/authors/5164/)

A crucial aspect of Bob Woodward's career that has been ignored by most of the media: Woodward is the military's man, and always has been.

October 2, 2010

Just one year before the publication of "Obama's Wars," Bob Woodward became a player in his own book-in-progress. He morphed into his true identity: Warrior Bob. Actually, there's an even deeper persona, Agent Woodward--but we're getting ahead of ourselves.

In June of 2009, Woodward traveled to Afghanistan with General Jim Jones, President Obama's National Security adviser, to meet with General Stanley McChrystal, then the commander of forces there. Why did Jones allow this journalist to accompany him? Because Jones knew that Woodward could be counted on to deliver the company line--the military line. In fact, Jones was essentially Woodward's patron.

The New Republic's Gabriel Sherman wrote at the time that Jones was a guest of Woodward at his wife Elsa Walsh's fiftieth birthday party held at Sally Quinn and Ben Bradlee's house. He and Elsa were glued to Jones at the cocktail party before the dinner started

In September of last year, McChrystal (or someone close to him) leaked to Woodward a document that essentially forced President Obama's hand. Obama wanted time to consider all options on what to do about Afghanistan. But the leak, publicizing the military's "confidential" assertion that a troop increase was essential, cast the die, and Obama had to go along. Nobody was happier than the Pentagon--and, it should be said, its allies in the vast military contracting establishment.

The website Firedoglake chronicled the developments in a pungent essay:

Apparently General McChrystal and the Petraeus cabal aren't willing to wait for their Commander in Chief to set the strategy. Prior to the President's interviews, McChrystal's people were already telling journalists that they were "impatient with Obama" as Nancy Youssef reported. This "Power Play," as I mentioned last night, included a veiled threat that McChrystal would resign if he didn't get his way.

And sure enough, just hours after the Commander in Chief was on the airwaves, somehow McChrystal's classified report hit the Washington Post compliments of Bob Woodward no less.

Wow, what a coincidence!

This episode highlights a crucial aspect of Bob Woodward's career that has been ignored by most of the media. Simply put, Woodward is the military's man, and always has been.

For almost four decades, under cover of his supposedly "objective" reporting, Woodward has represented the viewpoints of the military and intelligence establishments. Often he has done so in the context of complex inside maneuvering of which he gives his readers little clue. He did it with the book Veil, about CIA director William Casey, in which he relied on Admiral Bobby Ray Inman, a rival of Casey's, as his key source. (Inman, from Texas, was closely identified with the Bush faction of the CIA.) The book was based in part on a "deathbed interview" with Casey that Casey's widow and former CIA guards said never took place.

Typically, Woodward uses information he gets from his main sources to gain access to others. He then gets more secrets from them, and so on down the line. His stature--if that's the word--as a repository of this inside dope has been key to the relentless success machine that his media colleagues have perpetuated. The New York Times review of his Obama book laid out the formula:

In Obama's Wars, Mr. Woodward, as usual, eschews analysis and commentary. Instead, he hews to his I Am a Tape Recorder technique, using his insider access to give readers interested in inside-the-Beltway politics lots of granular detail harvested from interviews conducted on background, as well as leaked memos, meeting notes and other documents. Some of this information is revealing about the interplay of personality and policy and politics in Washington; some of it is just self-serving spin. As he's done in his earlier books, Mr. Woodward acknowledges that attributions of thoughts, conclusions or feelings to a person were in some cases not obtained directly from that person, but from notes or from a colleague whom the person told--a questionable but increasingly popular method, which means the reader should take the reconstructed scenes with a grain of salt.

And then, thanks to all this attention, and even with that grain of salt, the book went to #1.

But might there be more to Woodward and his oeuvre than just questionable work practices? Well, let's see. Woodward granted former CIA director George H.W. Bush a pass by excluding him from accounts of Iran-Contra, which occurred while the notorious intriguer was vice president under the notoriously hands-off Ronald Reagan. (When I asked Woodward about this for my book Family of Secrets, he replied, "Bush wasWhat was it he said at the time? I was out of the loop?") Later Woodward got exclusive access to H.W.'s son. He spent more time with George W. Bush than did any other journalist, writing several largely sympathetic books about his handling of Iraq and Afghanistan before playing catch-up with prevailing sentiment and essentially reversing course.

Now, for a bit of cognitive dissonance. Woodward's signature achievement--bringing down Richard Nixon--turns out not to be what we all thought. If that comes as a surprise, you have missed a few books, including bestsellers, that put pieces of this puzzle together. (Family of Secrets has several chapters on the real Watergate story, but there are others that present detailed information, including those by Len Colodny and Robert Gettlin, James Rosen, Jim Hougan and others.)

Here's the deal: Bob, top secret Naval officer, gets sent to work in the Nixon White House while still on military duty. Then, with no journalistic credentials to speak of, and with a boost from White House staffers, he lands a job at the Washington Post. Not long thereafter he starts to take down Richard Nixon. Meanwhile, Woodward's military bosses are running a spy ring inside the White House that is monitoring Nixon and Kissinger's secret negotiations with America's enemies (China, Soviet Union, etc), stealing documents and funneling them back to the Joint Chiefs of Staff. They then give what they stole to columnist Jack Anderson and others in the press.

That's not the iconic Woodward of legend, of course--so it takes a while for this notion to settle in the mind. But there's more--and it's even more troubling. Did you know there was really no Deep Throat, that the Mark Felt story was conjured up as yet another layer of cover in what became a daisy chain of disinformation? Did you know that Richard Nixon was loathed and feared by the military brass, that they and their allies were desperate to get Nixon out and halt his rapprochement with the Communists? That a bunch of operatives with direct or indirect CIA/military connections, from E. Howard Hunt to Alexander Butterfield to John Dean--wormed their way into key White House posts, and started up the Keystone Kops operations that would be laid at Nixon's office door?

Believe me, I understand. It sounds like the "conspiracy theory" stuff that we have been trained to dismiss. But I've just spent five years on a heavily documented forensic dig into this missing strata of American history, and I myself have had to come to terms with the enormous gap between reality and the "reality" presented by the media and various establishment gatekeepers who tell us what's what.

Given this complicity, it's no surprise that when it comes to Woodward's latest work, the myth-making machine is on auto pilot. The public, of course, will end up as confused and manipulated as ever. And so things will continue, same as they ever were. Endless war, no substantive reforms. Unless we wake up to our own victimhood.

Myra Bronstein
10-02-2010, 09:44 AM
(Family of Secrets has several chapters on the real Watergate story, but there are others that present detailed information, including those by Len Colodny and Robert Gettlin, James Rosen, Jim Hougan and others.)

Has anyone here read any of these books?
If so, care to share details?

Magda Hassan
10-02-2010, 09:47 AM
Beat me to it Myra!

Myra Bronstein
10-02-2010, 10:32 AM
I just bought "Family of Secrets"! I'll report back.
Even though I'm probably the last person here to read it.

Magda Hassan
10-22-2010, 05:27 AM
Bob Woodward’s affect is that of a human tape recorder. He claims that he is no more than a passive chronicler of events. Yet he has played a significant role in the unfolding history he reports, from Watergate on down to the leak of General McChrystal’s memo pushing for increased troop strength in Afghanistan. (See my earlier post, Obama’s Wars: the Real Story Bob Woodward Won’t Tell (http://whowhatwhy.com/2010/09/30/%E2%80%9Cobama%E2%80%99s-wars%E2%80%9D-the-real-story-bob-woodward-won%E2%80%99t-tell/).
Well, here he goes again. Woodward’s new book has caused yet another event: the forced resignation of his inside source and patron, General James Jones, who had been Obama’s National Security Adviser. Jones had taken Woodward with him to Afghanistan on the trip to meet with General Stanley McChrystal, the commander in that theatre. Later on, McChrystal’s secret memo, essentially warning that the president, like LBJ in another era, had no choice but to massively escalate, appeared in a Woodward article.
McChrystal ended up being forced out of his position for critical remarks about Obama and his vice president, Joe Biden. Now, Jones, whose perspective is amply represented in Woodward’s book, has himself been ousted.
Why doesn’t Woodward report on how this power struggle between Obama and the military is being influenced by his own reporting-and explain why these generals are willing to keep dealing with him if the result is that they themselves are jettisoned? Why would they do so unless their criticisms of Obama are themselves sanctioned as part of an organized effort to push Obama?—?something deemed so important that powerful military figures have to fall on their swords? (If you think McChrystal’s remarks to Rolling Stone that “got him in trouble” were accidental-read these (http://www.charlierose.com/view/interview/11083#frame_top) comments from the editor of that piece to Charlie Rose on how McChrystal and his team knew they were speaking on the record.)

ERIC BATES: This is not the interview where somebody forgot the
reporter laid down his notebook and it was an off-the-cuff comment. These were comments over a period of days and weeks, oftentimes repeated, in a culture there that was clearly like this. They began within five hours of our reporter arriving. Within five hours of arriving in Paris, they were referring to Joe Biden as Joe “Bite me,” saying those kinds of things openly in front?–?
CHARLIE ROSE: And never saying to your reporter “This is off the record. You cannot print this, I’m being open with you to give you a sense of the tone.”
ERIC BATES: Absolutely not.
CHARLIE ROSE: “But do not under any circumstances print this.”
ERIC BATES: Absolutely not. They were very specific in interviews when they wanted something not attributed to them or when something was only for background and couldn’t be repeated at all. It was very clear they knew the ground rules as well as journalists do, and we abided and respected their wishes.
It is not like McChrystal suffered inordinately. As noted in the blog post General McChrystal’s New Job: Dig a Bit, Please (http://whowhatwhy.com/2010/08/19/general-mcchrystal%e2%80%99s-new-job-dig-a-bit-please/), a wealthy individual immediately created a nice place for the general at Yale. It’s a sure bet that Jones, too, will land on his feet, with a nice military pension, a platform for his views?—?and perhaps some lucrative earning opportunities in the vast private military contracting sector with such a financial stake in America’s perpetual role in foreign hostilities.
Woodward continues on his book’s victory lap, but you rarely if ever see major media figures pressing him as to his central role in this shadow play.
Meanwhile, Woodward’s paper, the Washington Post, which has benefited tremendously from Woodward’s celebrity ever since Watergate, downplays (http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2010/10/08/AR2010100802953_pf.html) Woodward’s precise role in all of this.

“Jones made clear that he intended to serve no more than two years. But several administration officials said Friday that his departure was accelerated by the publication of Bob Woodward’s book titled “ Obama’s Wars (http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/1439172498?ie=UTF8&tag=washingtonpost-20&linkCode=xm2&camp=1789&creativeASIN=1439172498),” which portrayed Jones as a deeply unhappy figure often on the edge of important policy decisions.”
So, according to this, Jones was unhappy at being marginalized, and therefore left of his own volition. What the Post does not do is address the close relationship between Jones and Woodward, and how that itself would have angered Obama (again, see the blog post below for more on that.)
The New York Times, with no stake in Woodward though a dedicated reticence to openly explore the nature of his work, notes (http://www.nytimes.com/2010/10/09/world/09prexy.html) that

Hastening General Jones’s departure, two administration officials said, were the quotes attributed to the general in Mr. Woodward’s book, in which he complained about being shut out of White House political debates by Mr. Obama’s political advisers.
“They were very quotable lines,” a senior White House official said Friday.
The Times was even firmer on this point in another, earlier, iteration by David Sanger, the co-author of the piece containing the above passage. In the earlier piece, he styled it thusly:

General Jones’s departure had been long rumored (http://www.nytimes.com/2009/05/07/us/07jones.html), and he had previously indicated to his staff that he intended to leave by the end of the year. But the schedule was accelerated, and in recent weeks White House staff members had been increasingly critical of General Jones for statements that he apparently made to Bob Woodward (http://thecaucus.blogs.nytimes.com/2010/09/22/obamas-wars-scorecard-for-the-inside-game/), the author of “Obama’s Wars,” an account of the internal decision making on policy on Afghanistan and Pakistan.
None of this in the Post. Meanwhile, Woodward’s own past service in the military before becoming a reporter, certainly never appears in Post articles ?—?though we definitely deserve more study of his role in top secret capacities and as briefing officer for some of the most powerful figures in the Navy and Nixon White House prior to his apparently obtaining an unusual early release from service. We also need to know more about the fact that his reporting, even while portraying military leaders as disgruntled toward civilian leaders, almost always has the effect of strengthening the hand of the military. We can hardly expect the Post to issue a disclaimer on the work of its own star. But this points to a broader and chronic problem at the Post?—?the failure to acknowledge its own role on the Washington scene, and how many events there are orchestrated with the media audience in mind.
So who’s using whom? It’s a situation that benefits multiple parties?—?the newspaper, Woodward, and the generals. Whether it benefits the public is something else entirely.

Myra Bronstein
10-22-2010, 07:31 AM
Meanwhile, Woodward’s own past service in the military before becoming a reporter, certainly never appears in Post articles ?—?though we definitely deserve more study of his role in top secret capacities and as briefing officer for some of the most powerful figures in the Navy and Nixon White House prior to his apparently obtaining an unusual early release from service...

Yes this definitely deserves more study.

David Guyatt
10-22-2010, 08:02 AM
Myra, I can't remember now where I came across it, but I have known for a long time that Woodward was a former Navy guy (I thought he was ONI but may be wrong on that?) and that his "Duty" in the White House was Navy duty. If I remember correctly, it was also argued that General Alexander Haig was his boss.

Myra Bronstein
10-22-2010, 10:09 AM
Myra, I can't remember now where I came across it, but I have known for a long time that Woodward was a former Navy guy (I thought he was ONI but may be wrong on that?) and that his "Duty" in the White House was Navy duty. If I remember correctly, it was also argued that General Alexander Haig was his boss.

Interesting. Thanks David.

I found this by the author of Silent Coup (which I haven't read):

"Still Protecting Al Haig? Woodward Describes How He Met Mark Felt

In June 2, 2005's Washington Post, Bob Woodward stated that his role with Navy in regards to the White House was merely that of a courier.
"In 1970, when I was serving as a lieutenant in the U.S. Navy and assigned to Adm. Thomas H. Moorer, the chief of naval operations, I sometimes acted as a courier, taking documents to the White House."
"One evening I was dispatched with a package to the lower level of the West Wing of the White House, where there was a little waiting area near the Situation Room. It could be a long wait for the right person to come out and sign for the material, sometimes an hour or more, and after I had been waiting for a while a tall man with perfectly combed gray hair came in and sat down near me. His suit was dark, his shirt white and his necktie subdued. He was probably 25 to 30 years older than I and was carrying what looked like a file case or briefcase. He was very distinguished-looking and had a studied air of confidence, the posture and calm of someone used to giving orders and having them obeyed instantly. . ."
Moorer And Others Dispute Woodward's Report of His Trips to The White House as a "Courier."
With the publication of "Secret Man: Story Of Watergate's Deep Throat (http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/ASIN/0743287150/counterpunchmaga)," Woodward still leaves us with the mystery of why he has lied about key facts about his military service and especially his relationship with Al Haig. Since Felt is unable to speak for himself, Woodward will be speaking for him (and making more millions off him) based on the evidence contained in this story and others to come, the question is why should we believe him? When Felt could talk and write he strongly denied being Woodward's source.

Bob Woodward has a big credibility gap as it applies to his missions to the White House when he was in the Navy in 1969. He says he was a "courier," doing no more than carrying packages for Admiral Moorer. When asked when he first met Colonel Alexander Haig, he says it was in 1973.

But that is not the truth.

Unlike Woodward, SILENT COUP (http://www.nixonera.com/etexts/silentcoup/minor11.asp) uses on-the-record sources to show that Woodward acted as a briefer for Admiral Moorer, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, going to the White House to brief then Colonel (later General) Alexander Haig of the National Security Council.

SILENT COUP has not one, but three on-the-record, named and taped sources who claim that briefing Haig is exactly what Woodward was doing on his details to the White House Situation room.

Haig was not a terribly important person in the national hierarchy in 1969 --70 he was the military's liaison to the NSC, and deputy to the National Security Advisor Henry Kissinger.

So why does Woodward claim not to have met Haig until 1973? What is the reason for the lie? If Haig was unimportant in 1969, why can't Woodward admit that he met Haig then?

Listen for yourself to Admiral Moorer (http://www.watergate.com/special/thomas_moorer.htm) confirming that he sent Woodward to brief Haig in 1969-1970.

The matter is of some importance to the Washington Post, as well. At the time of the publication of SILENT COUP, the Post's media guru, Howard Kurtz, fibbed to readers that we had never interviewed Admiral Moorer -- at a time when the Post had in its possession a transcript of the Moorer interview that we had provided to them.

A day later, when Moorer admitted to the rival Washington Times that the interview was correct about Haig and Woodward, the Post did not retract its accusation, nor has it to this day ever corrected the record.

Listen as Woodward defied us to find one person to say that he briefed anyone in the White House (http://www.watergate.com/special/woodward.htm). In addition to Admiral Moorer, you may listen to two additional sources that confirm Woodward's role: Secretary of Defense Melvin Laird (http://www.watergate.com/special/melvin_laird.htm), and Pentagon spokesperson Jerry Friedheim (http://www.watergate.com/special/jerry_friedheim.htm).
At a moment when people are wondering why the major media are no longer trusted, and America has turned to the bloggers to get the truth, you will not see questions raised about Woodward's veracity in regard to his Navy background anywhere else but on the Internet. Yet it is key to understanding the entire Watergate story.

The Tape Erasures Leak
Finally unlike Mark Felt, Al Haig knew about Rosemary Woods accidentally erasing five minutes of the June 20th tape, in fact he is the last living member of the original group of five to learn of the erasure on October 1, 1973. The others were President Nixon, Rosemary Woods, Fred Buzhardt and General John Bennett, who was the keeper of the tapes. Haig also was one of those who had access to the tapes and may well know who added the extra 13 1/2 minutes of deliberate erasures to it.

Len Colodny wrote Silent Coup: the Removal of a President (http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/ASIN/0312927630/counterpunchmaga) and is a regular contributor to Watergate.com (http://www.www.watergate.com/). He can be reached at: len@colodny.com"