Monday :: Apr 19, 2004

Powell And White House Defenses To Woodward Allegations Fall Apart

by Steve

The fallout from the Woodward book and the White House’s scramble to defend themselves from it are getting comical. After Colin Powell’s supporters did a little chest-thumping for their boss to the New York Times to show that he was right all along, the media reported earlier today that Powell took issue with the Woodward account. Yet when you read what Powell actually said today, it isn’t inconsistent with what Woodward said in the book and on “60 Minutes.” Plus, the Pentagon is trying to defend itself from charges that Bush redirected Afghan money towards unauthorized Iraq war planning, but those efforts aren’t holding water either.

First, as NBC reported today, Powell said:

“The question that has arisen seems to be that Prince Bandar received a briefing on the plan, with some suggestion that I hadn’t. Of course I had. I was intimately familiar with the plan and I was aware that Prince Bandar was being briefed on the plan.”

Powell knows full well that Woodward wasn’t saying that Powell didn’t receive a briefing; what Woodward was saying which Powell or the White House have yet to deny, is that Prince Bandar was told about Bush’s plans to attack before Powell was told.

But in an interview Monday with NBC News, Woodward described Powell as unaware when Vice President Dick Cheney and Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld first briefed Bandar at the White House on January 11, 2003. At the time, said Woodward: “Rumsfeld said to Prince Bandar, ‘You can take this to the bank,’ pointing at the map, the war plan, ‘This is going to happen.’”

Woodward insists Rumsfeld and Cheney told the Saudi Ambassador the United States was going to war, before the secretary of state was informed.

As for the funding issue, Reuters reports late today that the Pentagon in a hastily called press conference tried to dispute that monies were redirected without congressional knowledge or authorization from Afghanistan towards Iraq war planning. The Pentagon says that Congress was told, and the White House says that the funds were actually for the war on terrorism, and Iraq was part of the war on terrorism. So which is it? Was Congress told about the redirection, or is the Administration saying it doesn’t matter because Bush could use the money any way he wanted because Iraq was involved in terrorism, a claim that precedes by at least three months the congressional resolution and by seven months the actual declaration by Bush to Congress that Saddam was linked to Al Qaeda?

Either way you slice it, the Pentagon and the White House don’t have their defenses straight here, and for the White House to claim that it doesn’t matter what Bush did with the money because it was for the war on terra’, there will be plenty in Congress who will ask why the president had such authority three months before the resolution.

Steve :: 5:03 PM :: Comments (19) :: Digg It!