Former President George W. Bush lifted passages from other writings and passed them off as his own thoughts in his new memoir, "Decision Points," an article published Friday on the Huffington Post website alleges.
The article by Ryan Grim, senior congressional correspondent for the Huffington Post, said Crown Publishing promises readers "gripping, never-before-heard detail" but ended up delivering "a mash-up of worn-out anecdotes from previously published memoirs written by his subordinates, from which Bush lifts quotes word for word, passing them off as his own recollections."
The book, which came out Tuesday, had opening day sales of at least 220,000 and an initial printing of 1.5 million copies.
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The Huffington Post article and an accompanying slideshow present 16 instances of similarities between Bush passages and previously written books, newspaper or magazine articles.
In response, a Crown official said the similarities speak to the book's inherent accuracy and that Bush had not done anything inappropriate, The Huffington Post reported.
A key passage The Huffington Post cites is the retelling of the inauguration of Afghan President Hamid Karzai. Bush did not attend the event, HuffPo notes. But his book recounts this scene: "As Karzai walked across the tarmac alone, a stunned Tajik warlord asked where all his men were. Karzai, responded, 'Why, General, you are my men. All of you who are Afghans are my men.'"
The article then compares that passage to one by Ahmed Rashid, author of "The Mess in Afghanistan," who wrote in the New York Review of Books: "At the airport to receive [Karzai] was the warlord General Mohammad Fahim, a Tajik from the Panjshir Valley .... As the two men shook hands on the tarmac, Fahim looked confused. 'Where are your men?' he asked. Karzai turned to him in his disarmingly gentle manner of speaking. 'Why General," he replied, "you are my men — all of you are Afghans and are my men.'"
Among other situations cited in The Huffington Post:
- Bush quotes Arizona Republican Sen. John McCain's backing of the Iraq surge as if he were talking to the president, but a Washington Post newspaper story shows McCain was talking to reporters instead.
- Bush and Gen. Tommy Franks in "American Soldier" both use these identical quotes: "If we have multiple, highly skilled Special Operations forces identifying targets for precision-guided munitions, we will need fewer conventional ground forces. That's an important lesson learned from Afghanistan." Both also quoted Bush identically at the same meeting: "But we cannot allow weapons of mass destruction to fall into the hands of terrorists. I will not allow that to happen."
- Bush's memoir sounds a lot like Bob Woodward's "The War Within" and "Bush at War" recounting a National Security Council Meeting: "I said, 'just want to make sure that all of us did agree to this plan, right?' I went around the table and asked every member of the room. They agreed."
On a more positive note, Bush's memoir got a thumbs-up from a another former president, Bill Clinton.
"'Decision Points' is well-written, and interesting from start to finish. I think people of all political stripes should read it," Clinton said in a statement Friday. "George W. Bush also gives readers a good sense of what it's like to be president, to take the responsibilities of the office seriously, do what you think is right, and let history be the judge. The book may not change the minds of those who disagree with decisions President Bush made, but it will help you to understand better the forces that molded him, and the convictions that drove him to make those decisions."
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