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Interview With Bob Woodward

Aired May 24, 2004 - 21:00   ET


GEORGE W. BUSH, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: My fellow Americans, we will not fail. We will persevere and defeat this enemy, and hold this hard-won ground for the realm of liberty.


LARRY KING, HOST: Tonight, the president delivers a crucial speech on the future of Iraq. And now Bob Woodward, the Pulitzer Prize winning reporter with unequaled White House access, reacts to that speech and more. Bob Woodward for the hour, and we'll take your phone calls, too. Next on LARRY KING LIVE.

Bob Woodward's latest best-seller, still number one, is "Plan of Attack." Not only available in hard cover -- there you see its cover -- it's also available on audiotape. He's the Pulitzer Prize winning journalist, reporter and editor at "The Washington Post."

What's the headline tonight, Bob?

BOB WOODWARD, WASHINGTON POST: Well, I think that the president said there is going to be a new president of Iraq in about 37 days, and that they will have what President Bush called "full sovereignty."

That's going to be astonishing. I don't know of any list of possible candidates. Who's going to do that? Somebody is going to appear, and at least nominally be in charge, and that's going to be incredibly significant -- whether it works, who it is, how effective that person is. Much to watch in -- after this turnover takes place.

KING: Do you think they know more than they told us? Do you think there is someone in mind?

WOODWARD: Well, I'm sure United Nations representative Brahimi is going through lists and trying to recruit people and divide up the authority, but as we've said before, it would be as if we were in October and we didn't know who our presidential candidates were.

KING: Did he satisfy -- do you think he satisfied tonight those who said we don't have an after answer?

WOODWARD: Well, probably not. I think the White House strategy here was to re-seize the initiative. Obviously, events, particularly the prison torture and scandal, have been all of the headlines, and the president also not only giving an outline, a kind of a bare-bones outline of what he -- what the steps are that he is taking, but in addition, went back to the rhetoric and his deep convictions that this is part of the war on terror, that it's something we're going to see through to the end, no matter what the consequences.

KING: What do you make of the idea of a weekly address leading up to the 30th?

WOODWARD: Well, again, it will get lots of attention, and one of the interesting -- I thought there were a number of things in that speech -- first of all, he knew lots of geographic references. He made it clear he is involved in this process. I think very significantly, he did not sugar-coat the prospects. He said there will be dark days ahead. There can be -- we can expect or anticipate more violence. And there had been some expectation that he was going to say something about American troops coming home. He definitely did not say that. In fact, he said if more are needed, he will send them.

KING: And what about the U.N.?

WOODWARD: U.N. has the ball, but there are pockets of authority here. Obviously, the U.S. military is the one that has the hammer. The insurgents have much influence there. The U.N. is going to try to work out something.

You know, it really is one of the most fascinating moments in history. This idea of turning over power at a date in a way -- we're not -- it's not ready to occur, but this date has been set, and so it is going to happen.

KING: Are you surprised at this, in view of all the access you had and all you learned in writing "Plan of Attack," to see it unfold this way?

WOODWARD: Well, I mean, obviously they didn't anticipate it. As people have pointed out, the planning was inadequate. But I think one of the things that the chronology and the buildup to war shows is that there was such a focus, even an obsession on Iraq, getting Saddam out of there, and they focused on the mechanics of that and the war plan. And the aftermath, though there was some talk about how difficult it was going to be, no one assessed and really looked at all of the possible alternatives. And the nightmare we're in now, you know, I don't think even the most serious pessimists anticipated that we would still have 138,000 troops be subjected to the insurgency and the daily violence.

In addition, the prison scandal is indefensible. You know, one of the worst possible things that could occur, and will become -- I think everyone realizes this -- it's going to become the defining symbol of the war, at least for a long time.

KING: What do you make of the idea of destroying it?

WOODWARD: Symbolically important. Again, it's something they should have thought of. I mean, it was such an awful prison. It was a symbol of the old regime, and it would have been very wise for somebody early on to say, let's get rid of it, let's start anew. What is totally baffling, that people working there, American soldiers at whatever level, had to know the history of what Saddam had done there, and then to almost duplicate some of the acts, maybe not in number, but coming from -- I mean, it is -- it is absolutely staggering, and I think that has really shocked the world, obviously. And you know, somebody in that process should have said, let's get rid of it immediately.

KING: Picking the War College to hold it, was that smart? I mean, you know you're going to get massive approval when you make a selection like that.

WOODWARD: Well, it's all of the officers, mid-level officers who were going through training. In a sense, it's appropriate, because, you know, these are the people who are supposed to be thinking about war and its consequence. Whether it works or not? I think there will be a lot of focus on it. There will be a lot of debate about it. Certainly the president -- you have to give him this -- he demonstrated his continuing commitment. Some people have been writing stories about he's living in a bubble and so forth. Whether he is or isn't, he's clearly working on this task and is committed to seeing it through.

KING: Mr. Chalabi, they raided his house. When we get back, we're going to talk to Mr. Woodward about that, because Mr. Chalabi is well featured in "Plan of Attack," the number one best-seller in the country. In a while, we'll be going to your calls for Bob Woodward. He's with us for the full program. Tom Brokaw tomorrow night. Don't go away.


BUSH: Iraqis are united in a broad and deep conviction. They're determined never again to live at the mercy of a dictator. And they believe that a national election will put that dark time behind them. A representative government that protects basic rights, elected by Iraqis, is the best defense against the return of tyranny, and that election is coming.


KING: We're back with Bob Woodward, the author of "Plan of Attack," our guest tonight following the president's address on this edition of LARRY KING LIVE. Concerning Mr. Chalabi, on page 340, you refer to the president in a March 10th national security council gathering as saying he didn't want to select the new leaders of Iraq, describing this as effectively putting the nail in the idea that Chalabi would take over.

You also write at times Powell thought Chalabi was the biggest problem they had in Iraq from the reports Armitage received from Iraq, most Iraqis thought Chalabi was a knucklehead. On that same page, you describe Bush as being unhappy that Chalabi ended up sitting next to Laura Bush during the 2004 State of the Union speech. What's your overview on this occurrence?

WOODWARD: Now, Chalabi, the head of the Iraqi National Congress, one of the important exile groups here, he was a favorite of many of the people in the Pentagon, by a number of Washington columnists and so forth, and people have actually written that this is the man who should lead Iraq as I show in the book before the war started. The president essentially said this is not the guy we're going to pick, but there are people who have clung to him, who believe that he was truly a patriot.

Now they've raided his house. He clearly, you know -- that's a real sign of disfavor when they do that, and I think he's, for all practical purposes, now really out of the game. The problem is, this is a man who was supplying intelligence, who had authority in the last year in Iraq as a member of the governing council to oversee a lot of the intelligence files and so forth, so, again, it's an indication of the problem as Colin Powell warned the president. You invade Iraq. You break it. You are going to own it and owning the hopes, aspirations and problems of 25 million people is something that is unimaginable. It is a big, big task, and we're seeing the fruit of that in the last 14 months.

KING: So in a sense did State Department win out? Did Powell and Armitage have him pegged correctly?

WOODWARD: It looks like they did and the CIA, which had used him before and found him unreliable, they were not in favor of him, but, you know, winning out or losing about picking a favorite candidate, somebody in the exile movement, I don't think anybody wins in that. The problems are clearly much greater than Chalabi now.

KING: Is it a flip-flop for us to ask the U.N. to now help in the picking of the new leadership?

WOODWARD: No, I don't think -- I think it's inevitable, in fact, this is forgotten the president did go to the United Nations six months before the war started and ask for a resolution on new weapons inspections. He was given that resolution. It passed unanimously, in fact, it turned out that was the technical legal international basis for the invasion in March of 2003. There are people in the administration who feel that the U.N. is useful in all of these enterprises. I think they're now realizing that it can be the saving grace, that it is the only route, and it is truly fascinating in this because there are soap opera dimensions to the war and the decision to go to war that Colin Powell, the one who was -- the one who resisted war, the one who warned the president regularly now has the ball, so to speak.

As the president said, they're going to the U.N. to seek a new resolution. They are looking for all kinds of assistance, financial, troops and so forth, and this -- that's a mighty hard sell is you go around the world trying to talk people into that, but clearly if you can build some level of commitment in the appearance of U.N. control in this or at least a large U.N. voice, it will go down much better in the international community.

KING: Are you surprised, Bob, at the new book, "Battle Ready" by General Anthony Zinni who says that the later conduct he saw was a true dereliction of duty, negligence, irresponsible, lying, incompetence, and corruption? He was the former chief of U.S. central command. He told "60 Minutes" that it's time to change course in Iraq. Were you surprised at this?

WOODWARD: No, General Zinni, he had the job before General Franks as the central commander, and he has been a vocal and outspoken critic of the war and a critic before the war saying it really was not a necessary war. He feels that that is a reasonable position certainly given the aftermath.

At the same time, Madeleine Albright, Clinton's secretary of state, was on your network just earlier after the president's speech, and she made the point, we have to succeed in Iraq now. She opposed the war, thought the war was not a war of necessity, but succeeding in some sort of occupation in transition to a stable regime is necessary, and I think that seems to be the widespread feeling.

My sense in talking to a number of people in the administration about this is that after the transition where somebody is literally president of Iraq, there will be somebody who will have a name and a face, and there will be two vice presidents and a prime minister and people heading the government.

At that point, as Colin Powell has said publicly, if they ask us to leave, our troops to leave, we will do that. Now, obviously it's not something that can be done overnight. There would have to be a gradual withdrawal. My guess and you know I don't like to guess, but my best estimate would be that before the election, there will be a significant reduction in the American presence in Iraq. Now, it could go the opposite way and there would be more troops there, but that would be my best estimate.

KING: When we come back we'll ask Bob Woodward about the campaign and what Iraq -- what part Iraq will play in it and public opinion on this and go to your calls at the bottom of the hour. His book "Plan of Attack" remains No. 1. Don't go away.


BUSH: There is likely to be more violence before the transfer of sovereignty and after the transfer of sovereignty. The terrorists and Saddam loyalists would rather see many Iraqis die than have any live in freedom. But terrorists will not determine the future of Iraq.



WOODWARD: ... the election are going to turn on the judgments people make about this war and the president's decision to go to war because the question has not yet been answered and, you know, may not be before the election in a reasonable way whether this is a good war or a bad war. And that's what people -- you go around the country and talk to people, and that's what people are not sure of and have not answered in their own minds.

KING: Any thoughts on your former partner Carl Bernstein, wrote a strong op-ed piece in today's "USA Today," headline, a history lesson, GOP must stop Bush. He draws parallels to Watergate. He concludes what did George W. Bush know and when did he know it?

Another wartime president Harry Truman observed that the buck stops at the president's desk not the Pentagon. But among Republicans there seems to be scant interest in asking tough questions or honoring the courageous leaders in Congress who not long ago stepped forward setting principal before party to hold a president accountable for putting a country in peril.

What do you make of that?

WOODWARD: What my former Watergate colleague has to say is always interesting and he's got good instincts. I don't think the story has gone there yet. Senator Warner who is the Republican chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee has demonstrated since the prison scandal broke on "60 Minutes II" when those pictures came out, Senator Warner has been dogged in insisting that Secretary Rumsfeld and the generals answer questions and he has dragged them all in. There has been very tough questioning going right to that question of who knew what and when. So I think it's -- we're in the early stages of this.

I think what I would agree with Carl about is that the prison scandal on its face is so out of the mainstream of what this country does and stands for, that it should not be politicized. There should not be a Republican position on it or a Democratic position. There should be kind of a sense of "this is an outrage, let's get to the bottom and let's fix it." Carl was talking about certain Republicans, who have sprung into the position of saying "hey look, this scandal is not so bad" and kind of defending the president. There is the other side of this where lots of people have used the prison scandal to beat up on the president. And say that it inevitably flowed from the war and so forth, and, again, that's not the case. I think this is an event that is so out of the boundaries of reasonable behavior that people from both sides or all political persuasions can agree it's an outrage and let's find out how it happened and who is responsible.

KING: Certainly is indefensible.

Do you think anyone of any prominence will leave this administration before November?

WOODWARD: I don't. I would be very surprised. At the same time, the prison scandal has to be investigated. What's nice about the military, there is a very clear chain of command. And just so it runs from the president of the United States as commander in chief to the secretary of defense, who is Donald Rumsfeld, to the combatant commander, who is General Abizaid, the central commander, to General Sanchez, who is the commander in Iraq, and then to people reporting to General Sanchez. So you can go from the people who apparently are directly involved in the abuse and work up the chain of command and find out who knew and -- or who should have known and who should have done something about it?

It is -- I served in the navy in the 1960s. It is -- the chain of command is responsible, and something broke down at least several points here, and they need to be identified.

KING: And we will take a break and when we come back we'll go to your calls for Bob Woodward. The book is "Plan of Attack. " It's number one in the United States. And tomorrow night Tom Brokaw joins us. We'll be right back with your calls for Bob Woodward. Don't go away.


BUSH: Under the dictator, prisons like Abu -- were symbols of death and torture. That same prison became a symbol of disgraceful conduct by a few American troops who dishonored our country and disregarded our values. America will fund the construction of a modern maximum security prison. When that prison is completed, detainees at Abu Ghraib will be relocated. Then with the approval of the Iraqi Government we will demolish the Abu Ghraib prison as a fitting symbol of Iraq's new beginning.



KING: Back with Bob Woodward. The book, "Plan of Attack." It's number one. We go to League City, Texas. Hello.

CALLER: Hello, Larry. I'd like to ask Bob if he could talk about this question of the war of necessity and a war of choice. Thomas Friedman called it a war of choice. Madeleine Albright referred to it tonight as a war of choice. What is this distinction? I understand -- when does a war of choice get justified? I wonder if Mr. Woodward could comment on the difference between a war of necessity and a war of choice.

WOODWARD: No, it's an important question. The general belief is that a war of necessity is when you are attacked. Pearl Harbor, 9/11, our country was attacked by terrorists, and so when you find out who is responsible, you go after them and you -- you attack, and that is the cause of war.

A war of choice is when you say, well, this country, in the case of Iraq, the president concluded that Saddam was a gathering threat, that was a threat that had to be dealt with, in his view. He felt that the lesson of 9/11 was take care of threats early. Saddam is a threat. We'll try the U.N. We'll try diplomacy. It's probably not going to work, and we go to war. But...

KING: So...

WOODWARD: But as we -- you know, the threat supposedly was weapons of mass destruction, which as we now know, at least so far, have not been found.

The president's other rationale, which I think is important, and he reiterated it tonight. And when I talked to him for this book he almost jumped in his chair talking about what he referred to as the duty to free people, the responsibility of this country when there is an opportunity -- an opportunity and people are living in oppression, under a dictator like Saddam Hussein, we have a duty to do something about it.

Now, this is the highly debatable point. The president clearly still feels that, and in his view, that's one of the causes of this war.

KING: So if the electorate decides it was a war of choice, he will lose. If it decides it was a war of necessity, he will win?

WOODWARD: No, I don't think it's that simple. I think if the electorate concludes that it was not wise and -- or necessary, he probably will lose. If there is -- and events on the ground don't suggest this, but the surprises occur all of the time -- if American troops come back, in some way if the level of violence is reduced, if there is not more terrorism, if there is a sense of stability, strong leaders in Iraq, if the overall situation in the Middle East, which is so tense, seems to get better, people may look at that and say, well, this was wise.

But when I asked the president about this, how is history going to judge it, his answer is "we don't know," and he said, "not only will we won't know, we'll all be dead" when history makes that final judgment, or even a judgment, you know, many years down the road where we'll be able to look at the impact of this war.

KING: New York City for Bob Woodward. Hello.

CALLER: Hello.

KING: Yeah, go ahead.

CALLER: Good evening, gentlemen.


CALLER: Mr. Woodward, my question to you, sir, is, why wasn't more emphasized on the fact that our men and women are out there and when they're coming home? They're sacrificing their lives for us. The least they can do is explain a little better on why they're not coming home and when they can come home.

WOODWARD: Well, the president doesn't have an answer for that, and that was one of the headlines of the speech. In fact, he talked about -- he said, if the commanders need more troops, they will be sent. So more going in seems to be at least still under consideration.

As I was trying to say earlier, I think there also is the real possibility that significant numbers may come home, but there is no timetable. There is no commitment. And the reason they're not coming home is the very clear reality that the security situation has not been fixed in Iraq. It is an incredibly violent place for U.S. troops, for anyone helping the United States, for Iraqi citizens. It -- you talk to people who have been there, and it is nightmarish on the ground. KING: Baltimore, hello.

CALLER: Good afternoon, gentlemen.


CALLER: I'd like to know -- first of all, Mr. Woodward, I have your book. I haven't read it yet. I just finished reading Paul O'Neill's book. I have your book. I have Richard Clarke's book. And if the American people really want to know about this administration, they should read these books, because you guys lay it right out for the American people.

KING: What's your question?

CALLER: My question is, why can't the American people see through this administration? Mainly his policies are political policy, and that's all.

KING: That's more a statement than a question, but obviously an angry American. Comment, Bob?

WOODWARD: There -- there are a lot of people who are angry about this. I suspect if you could get the president and interview him about the situation now, he's pretty angry about it also. And what the caller, though, is reflecting is there are lots of people who think that these were political decisions.

I don't buy that, really. I think that the president after 9/11 was shocked, realized we were in a war and saw Iraq as the next phase of this. And so there are all kinds of things that I have in my book and others in other books, and reporting that shows there were lots of warnings about undertaking this war and the potential complications. And the whole rationale, the main rationale for the war, the alleged existence of weapons of mass destruction, has disappeared.

KING: You don't buy the O'Neill concept that he always wanted to go to war with Iraq, pre-9/11?

WOODWARD: No, I don't. I think Secretary O'Neill, the treasury secretary, sat in on some meetings when there were discussions about Iraq. There were those discussions, as I report from detailed notes and accounts of those meetings, because we were engaged in a low-grade undeclared war with Iraq before 9/11. We had been in that war since the first Gulf War, in enforcing the no-fly zones, which Saddam Hussein had agreed to, and we were bombing Iraq regularly.

It was a big deal on the surface.

Now, there were people in the administration who wanted to go after Iraq before 9/11, thought it would be easy. There were even suggestions of just taking part of Iraq and setting up an enclave, and all the people who did not like Saddam Hussein would rush to support that effort.

Colin Powell, when he learned of that -- this is before 9/11 -- went to President Bush and said, "don't get talked into this, don't be bullied into this. This is not going to be easy." And the president said, "I've got the message, we're not going to do anything impulsive."

So there were people who wanted to do this before 9/11. As I've recounted in these books in excruciating detail, after 9/11, some people wanted to do Iraq, and the president decided very specifically to launch the war against Osama bin Laden and al Qaeda in Afghanistan, and that was the first phase of this war.

KING: New Orleans for Bob Woodward, the author of "Plan of Attack." Hello.

CALLER: Good evening, gentlemen. How are you doing?


CALLER: Mr. Woodward, I'd like to ask you, after Congress authorized the president to go to war, why wasn't a plan being formulated at that time to get us out?

WOODWARD: Well, what happened is the president went to Congress and said, I want a resolution authorizing the use of force if necessary. This is after -- this is a month after the president went to the United Nations and said we were going to seek a new weapons inspection resolution.

I think a lot of members of Congress, particularly Democrats, because the vote in the Senate and the House was roughly 3-1 supporting the president on this, a lot of the members felt this was a way to talk tough and show that the country was unified, to give the president extra leverage with the United Nations and the effort that was ongoing to solve the Saddam Hussein problem diplomatically.

KING: Woodlands, Texas, hello.

CALLER: Hello, yes. In Bob Woodward's book he mentioned that before the war, George Bush turned down the opportunity to allow Saddam Hussein to have exile in Egypt. I have two questions on this. One, why isn't anyone talking about this as our opportunity to avoid war and, two, would the current situation in Iraq be better if we would have let Saddam have exile?

WOODWARD: Well, that's a very good question. It's one of the things in the book that people have not focused on. The Egyptian leader's son went to see President Bush before the war and said they had an intermediary come to the Egyptians and say that Saddam, if you let him out, let his sons his family members, $2 billion allegedly in gold and currency, that this was a possibility. And the president, though there were some public offerings by other leading figures in the administration for Saddam to leave, made it very clear that he was not going to support that at that point.

I think at that point so much covert CIA activity had taken place, we had agents recruited inside Iraq, there was such a buildup of military force that war was almost inevitable, and as I report in the book, the president told people, his top people in January two months before the war started that he pretty much decided on war, so I think at that point, there was no turning back, though, again, the president, 48 hours before the war started went on television as you may recall and told Saddam and his sons they had 48 hours to get out of Iraq. If this had happened, it's not clear what our response would have been, but there was never any indication I heard of that Saddam was considering this.

KING: We'll take a break. When we come back John Kerry has issued a release following the statement tonight by the president, and we'll broadcast it and ask Bob's opinion of it right after these words.


BUSH: The rise of a free and self-governing Iraq will deny terrorists a base of operation, discredit their narrow ideology and give momentum to reformers across the region. This will be a decisive blow to terrorism at the heart of its power and a victory for the security of America and the civilized world.



KING: We're back with Bob Woodward, author of "Plan of Attack." Here's Senator John Kerry's release following the statement tonight in response. This is his statement responding to the president.

Quote, "the president laid out general principles tonight, most of which we've heard before. What's most important now is to turn these words into action by offering presidential leadership to the nation and to the world. That's going to require the president to genuinely reach out to our allies so the United States doesn't have to continue to go it alone and to create the stability necessary to allow the people of Iraq to move forward. That's what our troops deserve, that's what our country and the world need at this moment." A comment?

WOODWARD: You know, that's his -- that's a fair response to it. You know, it just shows, though, how the politics of the presidential election revolves and turns around the issue of Iraq, and what one of the things that interests me in the coming months, particularly if things don't go well, if there is more violence or there are problems in this handover of full sovereignty, whether Senator Kerry is going to become much more of a more dramatic critic of the war and the process that led to the decision to do it.

I think everyone is in pretty much agreement. The president essentially tonight said, yes, things haven't gone well in the last 14 months. There's not much debate about that. There is debate about how to fix it, but the question is the decision, when it was on the president's shoulders to do this, I think that's the -- what I found in my reporting, if you want to know who Bush is and what he cares about and what he values and how he works, as he says, he's a gut player. There was not a lot of deliberation in debate within his war cabinet. He decided this was necessary. There was some patience. It took a long time, but he made this decision pretty much on a series of judgments that he made. There were not these kind of late night at the dorm, as you would have had in the Clinton administration of everyone sitting around saying should we do this, should we not do this? In many ways I think the Bush presidency is going to be judged on that.

KING: Eland, Wisconsin. Hello.

CALLER: I was just wondering, in light of recent events in Iraq and from other things, who do you think would be the best person for John Kerry to choose as his running mate and if you don't care to name a name, could you please describe important qualities? Thank you.

WOODWARD: I think there's one important quality in picking a vice president. This is anyone who is doing what Senator Kerry is going to have to do in the coming days, weeks or months, and that is who is the person who is most qualified to be president? Should that person for one reason or another have to take over the office, and it's not -- there is no way, whether you like Dick Cheney or don't like Dick Cheney and his politics, he is qualified. He was qualified when Bush picked him in 2000. The person Senator Kerry picks is going to have to debate Cheney, is going to be weighed in that realm, so it's got to be somebody in the Democratic party who has experience, who has some weight, who John Kerry can get up and say, this is the most qualified person in the Democratic party. I think everything else should be set aside.

KING: Would you agree Senator Lieberman fit that bill four years ago?

WOODWARD: Certainly, certainly. Somebody who had a vast amount of experience. I don't think he's a candidate now to run again for vice president.

KING: Mission Viejo, California. Hello.

CALLER: Hello. Good evening. Mr. Woodward and Larry, I have to admit I was confused in listening to the president's speech this evening. I thought I heard him say several times in referring to the Iraqi insurgents, he called them terrorists and then I think I heard him say another time extremists.

Now, my question is, who actually are the enemy?

Is he trying to imply or get us to believe that these terrorists are actually foreign led and maybe even al Qaeda insurgents who have come over the borders?

WOODWARD: That is an excellent question and I've not seen anything that's been definitive about who these people are. The basic charge is that they are old Saddam loyalists, dead-enders, people who wish Saddam were still in power, and the president and others in the administration have made allegations that some of them are foreigners. I suspect that's probably the case, but it's one of the missing pieces in all of this and you ask a very good question.

Who really is the other side?

Who is doing this?

KING: We'll be back with our remaining moments with Bob Woodward, a few more phone calls right after this.


BUSH: We believe that when all middle eastern peoples are finally allowed to live and think and work and worship as free men and women, they will reclaim the greatness of their own heritage. And when that day comes, the bitterness and burning hatred that feed terrorism, will fade and die away. American and all the world will be safer when hope has returned to the Middle East.


KING: We're back. Boston, hello.

CALLER: Yes, good evening, Larry. Good evening, Mr. Woodward. A quick comment and question. Every week a different scandal rears its ugly head regarding Mr. Bush and his administration, from the missing papers from his stint in the service to the missing Iraqi papers now.

Do you think at some point soon a deep throat the second will emerge and expose George Bush and his admission for what they really are?

WOODWARD: People in my business, reporters are always available and want to hear and people do call in and people do provide information. Those are unanswered questions, and some of those things are, indeed, scandals. Other people would, you know, say they are just unanswered questions. But it's not just the Deep Throat two. I would like a three, a four, a five and a six, as many as possible.

Quickly, Dayton, Ohio, hello.

CALLER: Yes, all the president's men where the watershed exposure on the right-wing ricochet of the Nixon years. Considering how John Dean draws analogies to Nixon, plus the comments Carl Bernstein has made, drawing the same conclusion, could or would you ever feel comfortable collaborating with Carl Bernstein on another book chronicling on what I consider are very dark times?

KING: We only have a minute left, Bob.

WOODWARD: Carl and I may collaborate on another book sometime. I think there are lots of unanswered questions. I think that reporters, myself included have attempted to answer them. Just real quickly, Larry, I think what the president's speech tonight -- the president is always in the game, but now he's kind of visibly in the game again. And if you're looking for a bottom line on his speech, he's lowered expectations. There's not a quick fix. Troops aren't coming home. Dark days lie ahead.

KING: This was not a speech to end on a high optimism note?

WOODWARD: No, I don't think so, and he also is trying to communicate that, you know, a little bit of somebody in the White House I talked to said tough realism. That he's trying to be realistic about the problem, At the same time, he's managing it. But he's in a jam, and he obviously knows it.

KING: Thank you, Robert.

WOODWARD: Thank you.

KING: Bob Woodward of "The Washington Post." the book, "Plan of Attack, " still number one. I'll be back in a minute to tell you about tomorrow night. Don't go away.


KING: Tom Brokaw tomorrow night. And one his compadres now. That's right they are all in the same business, they anchor. Yes. Here's my man Aaron Brown, host of "NEWSNIGHT."