The phrase “wallowing in Watergate” came to mind — Bob Woodward at it again! I haven’t read anything by him in the interim. This was a strong indictment of bureaucracy, and perhaps most of all, of Rumsfeld, who seems driven by his desire to control everything and dismiss anything he could not take credit for. Woodward recounts many moments of bureaucratic infighting; it’s entertaining and discouraging, leaving me with a feeling of disgust. I still do not understand why all those people — Rumsfeld, Cheney, Wolfowitz, Bush, and Rice — thought taking the war on terror to Iraq would be useful in any way. Even if Saddam did had weapons of mass distruction, because he was not a friend to al Qaeda, he was far from our worst enemy.
The events unfold largely through individuals; one long story was Jay Garner’s return to government service from the private sector as a defense contractor to lead the reconstruction of Iraq when the war ended. He bumped against Rumsfeld and it sounds like Rumsfeld got sick of it and he was replaced by Bremer. Garner was under the tight control of Rumsfeld, but Bremer’s appointment and orders to put in place a deep de-baathification program (a huge mistake) seems to have come from thin air. All the principals denied that it was their doing. And it does appear that Bremer was the President’s man, not Rumsfeld’s.
I could go on and on. One last note — Carl Levin’s indictment of Powell was persuasive. He believes that Powell had the power to stop the move toward war; if he had told Bush not to do it, it would not have happened. Perhaps it’s not so, but what a painful thought.