Dan Bartlett Attempts Damage Control For Woodard's Book

Bartlett was in damage control today and literally is in denial himself as he spews the White House propaganda. Watch the segment and read the transc

Dan Bartlett Bartlett was in damage control today and literally is in denial himself as he spews the White House propaganda. Watch the segment and read the transcript to see what I mean.

Mike L says: White House in Full Damage Control: White House Counselor and close Bush-confidant, Dan Bartlett, was on This Week w/ George Stephanopolous in full damage control. George touches on every significant story in the news and Bartlett had a response for each and every one: On State of Denial: Woodward was biased, came to pre-conceived conclusions and "didn't connect his own dots". Apparently his books are worth buying/reading when he sucks up to the administration but when it comes to being critical, he's biased.

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On the pre-9/11 meetings between George Tenet, Cofer Black and Condoleeza Rice: Those meetings, in Condi's mind, "didn't happen." Bartlett claims the first eight months of Bush's presidency were some of the most investigated eight months in history yet 9/11 Commissioner's are saying they didn't know about the meetings. Thoroughly investigated? Or covered up by executive Director and Bush-insider Phillip Zelizow? Jack Abramoff's extensive access to the White House?: Abramoff's "contacts" were benign and simply used as an "excuse to bill his clients." On Predatorgate: House leadership "appears to be very aggressive" in pursuing the investigation. Again, aggressively investigating or agressively covering up prior knowledge and inaction?

Full Transcript from ABC:

STEPHANOPOULOS: Now, in 2004, Bob Woodward wrote a book, "Plan of Attack." You went out publicly, urged people to go buy it and read it. I take it you're not going to do that with "State of Denial?"

BARTLETT: Well, George, it is a book that we participated at various levels within the administration, both in the White House and other parts of the administration, Department of Defense and State. But I must say, George, I think as we worked with Bob on this project from the very outset, it was unfortunate that we felt he had already formulated some conclusions even before the interviewing began.

STEPHANOPOULOS: That's a pretty stiff charge. You're saying he is a biased reporter on this?


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BARTLETT: Well, we've had a lot of experience with Bob, and I think -- in the first two books, as you did mention -- and what we found in those books is that he came in very much with an open mind, very much wanting the facts to lead him to a conclusion. And after reading this book over the weekend, I was really struck by the fact that the central thesis of this book, the claim that the president was in a state of denial, that he was misleading the American people about what was happening in Iraq, quite frankly, is not backed up with the own facts that are in the book.

STEPHANOPOULOS: I want to get there in one second, but before we get there -- because you're making a pretty, pretty serious charge here. You're saying that Bob Woodward, been around Washington for an awful long time, went into this with an agenda and basically wasn't an honest reporter.

BARTLETT: I didn't say that he wasn't an honest reporter. Reporters come in with conclusions or some firm ideas about where they want to take a book, and certain occasions when he met with administration officials and they would come to talk to me about their meetings with him, there was just a sense that despite spending hours with him, that their points weren't getting across.

STEPHANOPOULOS: So you thought he had an agenda?

BARTLETT: I'm not going to use the word agenda, but we did feel like he approached this book different than he did the first two, and that's why we made the decision that the president was not going to...

STEPHANOPOULOS: And the vice president didn't speak with him either.

BARTLETT: That's correct.

STEPHANOPOULOS: So you know, from the outside, it looks like, well, if Bob Woodward is going to write a positive book, he gets cooperation, he gets praise. If it's a negative book, well, he didn't have an agenda, but you didn't approve of his approach.

BARTLETT: Well, I'll make the point, though, we didn't agree with everything he put in his second book either, but the fact of the matter is, many people in the administration, including myself, including the national security adviser, including the secretary of state, including the joint chairman -- the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, including many other people, did participate in this book.

But what we were struck by is the fact that time after time after time, counterevidence was provided to Bob and we didn't feel like our point was getting across. And you know, it's my job to make judgments like that as to whether the president ought to participate, and, you know, we made the decision...

STEPHANOPOULOS: And you don't feel he included the counterevidence in the book?

BARTLETT: Not as much as I thought. But as I said, what's interesting about this book is that he doesn't connect his own dots. What he talks about in here is that there is a grim picture in Iraq that the president wasn't sharing with the American people, that we didn't have a strategy, when in fact he references throughout the book time after time after time where the president was being presented with the bad information, was pushing the internal process to make sure that we were adapting to the enemy, and he was sharing this news with the American people.

STEPHANOPOULOS: But not always. Let's look at some of the specifics. Front page of "The Washington Post" this morning has an exert. Talk about May of this year, when the Joint Chiefs of Staff presented a private intelligence report to the Pentagon.

STEPHANOPOULOS: And it said, "The report predicted a more violent 2007: 'Insurgents and terrorists retain the resources and capabilities to sustain and even increase current level of violence through the next year.' " Very same month a public report goes from the Pentagon to Congress. "The public report sent to Congress said the 'appeal and motivation for continued violent action will begin to wane in early 2007.' " That does seem like a contradiction.

BARTLETT: Well, no, the fact of the matter is is that the reports that go to Congress, the entire intelligence community takes a look at all data points for an assessment such as like that. The one specific memorandum that he points to is one data point. All of these are taken into consideration, but the fact of the matter is, he uses these daily attack chars or weekly or monthly attack charts as if this is some shocking revelation, when in fact, those very...

STEPHANOPOULOS: But that's not what I was talking about here.

BARTLETT: ... attack charts are put...

STEPHANOPOULOS: This is very specific. On the one hand, you have the joint chiefs of staff intelligence report saying insurgents and terrorists retain the capabilities to increase the level of violence, and then the public report says, you expect basically the appeal and motivation for the insurgents to wane in 2007.

BARTLETT: In the assessment made then -- and remember, you've got to take yourself back into the point of May. And this is in the wake of the Golden Samarra Mosque bombing, in which sectarian violence is beginning to increase, we have a new government that is being formed. And I think the prediction by many of the people looking at this is if you have a unity government that is fighting the forces of evil in Iraq that you are going to see better assessments. Having said that, the president has been very clear with the American people that the difficulties of the fight in Iraq was one that's going to take some time. We've had generals go before Congress and argue very forcefully that this is a very difficult fight, that it's going to require our troops to be on the ground. George, the politically expedient thing for the president to do in the last two years has been, let's just pull down the troops and get out. Let's not follow a timetable, a conditions-based approach to this.

What he has done is said, I'm going to listen to my commanders on the ground. I'm going to constantly adapt our tactics to meet a very important strategic objective. And what this book shows is that there was a lot of disagreement. There's a lot of people who are very smart, very experienced

grappling with very difficult issues, sometimes coming to opposite conclusions, but at the end of the day, what we see is a process that is showing us adapt to the enemy. And the enemy is very good, and they have been to our extent more vicious and more violent than we probably originally expected. And the president has talked about that with the American people.

STEPHANOPOULOS: One of the more explosive allegations in the

book goes back to before the war in Iraq. It goes back to 2001. He

talks about a meeting July 10th, 2001, two months before 9/11. CIA

Director George Tenet and his counterterrorism chief, Cofer Black, are

reading intelligence. They are so caught up by what they're seeing.

They see an attack coming.

They call up Condi Rice for an unscheduled meeting, go to the

White House, warn her of this, say that we need action. But after the

meeting, "They both felt they were not getting through to Rice. She

was polite, but they felt the brush-off. A coherent plan for covert

action against bin Laden was in the pipeline, but it would take some

time."

They believe it was a mistake not to act after that meeting.

BARTLETT: Well, I must say, myself and other members including

Secretary Rice, who alleges was in this meeting, and there was a

meeting...

STEPHANOPOULOS: You've spoken to her?

BARTLETT: I spoke to her this morning. She believes that this

is a very grossly misaccurate characterization of the meeting they

had. Look, George, the first eight months of President Bush's

presidency has been some of the most investigated eight months in any

presidency because of the 9/11 attack.

We had the 9-11 Commission, a bipartisan commission, look at all

of it, look at all of the information that was provided to government

officials. They testified before it. Now 4 1/2, 5 years later we're

just now hearing about these vivid accounts of meetings with Secretary

Rice...

STEPHANOPOULOS: Cofer Black says the only thing we didn't do was

pull the trigger to the gun we were holding to Rice's head.

BARTLETT: And Cofer Black and George Tenet and others also

testified before the 9-11 Commission. Why is it now that this

information...

STEPHANOPOULOS: So this didn't happen?

BARTLETT: And that's Secretary Rice's view that that type of

urgent request to go after bin Laden as the book alleges in her mind

didn't happen. But I don't want to leave the wrong impression,

George. Everybody in government felt we could have done a better job

before 9/11. We had huge gaps in our intelligence-gathering

capabilities, the wall between law enforcement, intel, and that's why

we've worked so hard in the last couple years to repair these things

so we can do a better job of protecting the American people.

STEPHANOPOULOS: Finally on this book. Woodward reports that not

only the chief of staff, Andy Card, but also the secretary -- who

wanted Rumsfeld to go, but also the secretary of state, the national

security adviser and her deputy all recommended a new national

security team after the election.

STEPHANOPOULOS: Yet the president didn't take that advice. He

said Colin Powell has to go; Donald Rumsfeld should stay. Why?

BARTLETT: Well, what you would expect a chief of staff to do at

the beginning of a new term is to make an assessment of all senior

staff as well as your cabinet. And that's exactly what Andy Card did;

in fact recommending to the president that he may want to change his

chief of staff himself.

And what Steve Hadley and Condi Rice and others say, Mr.

President, maybe you ought to think about just bringing in a whole new

team, do it all at once.

And the president decided that's not the approach he wanted to

take. And what Andy, as a chief of staff, should do was providing

options to the president in case he decided to make changes. But as

everybody knows, the president has decided months ago that Secretary

Rumsfeld is the right person for the job.

STEPHANOPOULOS: Newsweek is reporting this morning that the

president is actually sounding out people, including Henry Kissinger

and James Baker about whether he should replace Rumsfeld.

And it quotes a senior White House official, saying, so far, the

advice has been Rumsfeld should stay, but I can't predict the future.

Is his job secure throughout this term?

BARTLETT: I can only speak for what the president -- the

president has full confidence in Secretary Rumsfeld. Every cabinet

member serves at the pleasure of the president. He is doing an

enormously difficult job fighting a war, trying to transform our

military to meet the new threats of the 21st century.

We recognize that he has his critics. We recognize that he's

made some very difficult decisions. Some people don't like his

bedside manner. But what President Bush looks to in Secretary

Rumsfeld is to bring him the type of information he needs to make the

right decisions in this war.

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