Video: Responding to criticism

updated 4/20/2004 5:31:31 PM ET 2004-04-20T21:31:31

Thirty-one years ago today, riding with his partner, Carl Bernstein, Bob Woodward of the “Washington Post” took a huge clunk out of the presidency of Richard Nixon.  On that April 19, Woodward helped reveal the first direct link between Watergate and the White House.  Tying for the time, the scandal to the former attorney general, John Mitchell and the White House counsel, John Dean. 

On this April 19, Woodward is back, is reporting now in book form.  Perhaps taking a huge chunk out of the presidency of George W. Bush.  “Plan of Attack” has been released and all it does is suggest that the president secretly diverted funds towards planning Iraq, revealed his war plan to the Saudi ambassador before he revealed it to his own secretary of state, and has such a strained relationship with that secretary of state that the secretary appears to have become a primary source for the book.

There are five key components to the controversial book, Bob Woodward’s ‘Plan of Attack.’ 'Countdown with Keith Olbermann' outlines:

No. 5) The relationship between Secretary of State Powell and the president. Mr.  Powell‘s evident cooperation with Woodward has quote, “jolted the White House,” according to the “New York Times.”  Anonymous administration figures are quoted as saying, “the book guaranteed what they expected, anyway.  That Powell will not stay his secretary if Bush is reelected.”

No. 4)  Woodward reports that to guard the secrecy of his intent to go into Iraq, Mr. Bush, in July of 2002, initially funded the planning of the war there by using $700 million congress had appropriated for Afghanistan, and doing so without telling Congress he was doing so.  White house spokesman Scott McClellan today insisted congress was fully informed of how that money was spent. 

No. 3) Woodward writes that on January 11 of last year, the president revealed a secret map laying out the precise military plan for attacking Iraq.  This was done for Saudi ambassador, Prince Bandar.  This was done two days before the secret map was shown to Secretary Powell.  This was also done, even though map was marked “top secret, no foreign,” new speak not to be shown to foreigners. 

No. 2)  That advance tip to Prince Bandar was a kind of quid pro quo in exchange for Saudi pledge to reduce crude oil prices late this summer or early this fall in order to knock down prices at the U.S. gas pumps just in time to goose the president‘s chances of being reelected. 

No. 1)  Woodward quotes Mr. Bush as saying something that may or may not play too well, even in this fairly religious country.  Asked if he had consulted his father about Iraq, Mr. Bush said he had not:  “You know he is the wrong father to appeal to in terms of strength.  There is a higher father that I appeal to.  I‘m surely not going to justify war based on God.  Understand that.  Nevertheless, in my case, I pray that I be as good a messenger of His will as possible.”

This was the No. 5 story to Monday's 'Countdown with Keith Olbermann.' The show airs weeknights, 8 p.m. ET on MSNBC. 

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