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Hubris: The inside Story of Spin, Scandal, and the Selling of the Iraq Warby Michael Isikoff
Synopses & Reviews
I'm going to kick his sorry motherfucking ass all over the Mideast.
-President George W. Bush
EARLY ON the afternoon of May 1, 2002, George W. Bush slipped out of the Oval Office, grabbed a tennis racquet, and headed to the South Lawn. He had a few spare moments for one of his recreational pleasures: whacking tennis balls to his dogs, Spot and Barney. It was a pleasant spring day in Washington and not an especially taxing one for the president. He had no pressing political worries. Having routed the Taliban regime in Afghanistan the previous fall, Bush was standing tall in the polls, with an approval rating hovering at 70 percent. That morning, there had been his usual terrorism briefings, then meetings with congressional leaders where Bush had talked about moving forward his domestic proposals, including a measure promoting faith-based social programs. Later in the day, the president was due to meet the vice president of China. Bush also had an unusual press interview on his schedule that afternoon. As he hit the balls and watched the dogs scamper, Bush prepared for that session with two press aides by reviewing questions he would likely be asked about one of his predecessors he admired most: Ronald Reagan.
Ever since September 11, 2001, Bush had increasingly identified with Reagan: his optimism, his firm convictions, his stark, uncompromising stand against Soviet communism. Bush had come to consider Reagan's battle against the Soviet Union a parallel of his own struggle against Islamic extremism. The Evil Empire was now the Axis of Evil-that trio of tyrannies, Iraq, Iran, and North Korea, that Bush had proclaimed the nation's foes months earlier during his first State of the Union speech.
Frank Sesno, the veteran newscaster, was due shortly at the White House to query Bush about Reagan and the parallels between his presidency and Bush's. The interview was for a History Channel special that would air upon the death of the former president, who was ninety-one years old and suffering from advanced Alzheimer's disease. On a two-page pre-brief memo prepared by his staff and containing questions that might be asked, Bush had written out by hand points he wanted to emphasize. The presidential scribbles, his aides thought, were revealing-perhaps a window onto Bush's view of himself. Optimism and strength, Bush had scrawled on top of the memo. Also, decisive and “faith.” Next to a question about Reagan's direct, blunt style, Bush had written, “moral clarity.” He had drawn an arrow next to the word forceful. Alongside a question about the 1983 suicide bombing attack on the U.S. Marines barracks in Lebanon (which killed 241 American troops) and how a president copes with such losses, Bush had written, There will be casualties.
On the South Lawn, Press Secretary Ari Fleischer and another member of the communications staff, a burly, irrepressible former television producer named Adam Levine, reviewed these points with Bush. Then they all moved inside and headed upstairs to the Red Room so Bush could have makeup applied for the interview. Bush casually asked Fleischer how his day had been going and what the talk in the pressroom was. Fleischer mentioned Helen Thomas, the longtime correspondent then writing for Hearst News Service. She was a gadfly and constantly giving Fleischer a tough time about an issue much in
March 2003: The United States invades Iraq. October 2006: The world finds out why. What was really behind the U.S.-led invasion of Iraq? As George W. Bush steered the nation to war, who spoke the truth and who tried to hide it?Hubristakes us behind the scenes at the Bush White House, the CIA, the Pentagon, the State Department, and Congress to answer all the vital questions about how the Bush administration came to invade Iraq. Filled with new revelations,Hubrisis a gripping narrative of intrigue that connects the dots between George W. Bush’s expletive-laden outbursts at Saddam Hussein, the bitter battles between the CIA and the White House, the fights within the intelligence community over Saddam’s weapons of mass destruction, the startling influence of an obscure academic on top government officials, therealreason Valerie Plame was outed, and a top reporter’s ties to wily Iraqi exiles trying to start a war. Written by veteran reporters Michael Isikoff and David Corn, this is the inside story of how President Bush took the nation to war using faulty and fraudulent intelligence. It is a news-making account of conspiracy, backstabbing, bureaucratic ineptitude, journalistic malfeasance, and, especially, arrogance. From the Hardcover edition.
About the Author
Michael Isikoff is an award-winning investigative correspondent for Newsweek, a frequent guest on MSNBC and other cable news networks, and the author of the bestselling Uncovering Clinton.
David Corn is the Washington editor of The Nation and a Fox News Channel contributor. He’s the author of the bestselling The Lies of George W. Bush, the novel Deep Background, and the biography Blond Ghost.
From the Hardcover edition.
Table of Contents
A warning at the White House — The new product — A speech and a spy at the United Nations — One strange theory — The niger caper — The secret diggers — A tale of two sources — Bent with the wind — A secret in the Nevada desert — The final pitch — Best-laid plans — The missing weapons — The leaking begins — Seven days in July — A cover blown — The incurious president — The investigation begins — The prosecutor versus the press — The final showdown — Afterword: no regrets.
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