Woodward to CNN: Generals 'On Their Knees' to Keep Troops in Iraq

Monday, 23 Jun 2014 07:34 AM

By Melissa Clyne

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Presidents George W. Bush and Barack Obama share blame for the current crisis in Iraq, according to journalists Bob Woodward and Carl Bernstein.

Speaking with CNN’s Candy Crowley on her "State of the Union" program, Woodward said he was remiss in not doing more digging on the Bush administration’s intelligence that Iraq possessed weapons of mass destruction. He also dropped the ball, he acknowledged, by not being more aggressive with the Obama administration when the United States withdrew all troops in 2011.

Story continues below video.



"We should have been aggressive when the president said, 'We're getting out,' " Woodward told Crowley.

"There were people in the military strongly advocating let's keep 10,000 troops there as an insurance policy. And we know we all live on insurance policies, and this is a case where they didn't do it."

"The experts, the generals, were almost on their knees, keep some troops here. And we left zero."

Bernstein said the United States went to war under false pretenses on Bush’s watch while Obama has failed to resolve the conflict.

"This is one of the great disasters, ongoing, through two administrations," Bernstein said. "A great disaster for this country."

Obama has altered his explanation for the troop withdrawal, according to The Washington Post, which reported that the president said last week that the decision to bring the troops home was made "entirely by his Iraqi counterpart," Nouri al-Maliki, who refused to sign an agreement leaving some troops in place.

That assertion was debunked by Sens. John McCain and Lindsey Graham, both of whom say they "personally witnessed" Maliki agree to leave "substantial U.S. forces" in Iraq," according to Breitbart.

While campaigning for re-election in 2012, Obama’s standard stump speech included the following "line of celebration," according to the Post: "Four years ago, I promised to end the war in Iraq. We did."

He regularly criticized Republican opponent Mitt Romney for being "hopelessly out of step with Middle East realities" for wanting to keep U.S. troops in the "still-fragile country," the Post said.

The newspaper reported an exchange during a 2012 debate at Lynn University where Romney said the men agreed there should be a "status of forces agreement" to leave troops in Iraq to assist with training and counterterrorism operations.

"That’s not true," Obama interjected. "What I would not have done is left 10,000 troops in Iraq that would tie us down. That certainly would not help us in the Middle East."

Last week, according to the Post, reporters asked Obama if he had regrets about not leaving residual forces in Iraq.

"Well, keep in mind that wasn’t a decision made by me," Obama said. "That was a decision made by the Iraqi government."

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