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Bob Woodward criticizes Iraq reporting
“We need to be much more skeptical and inquisitive,” Woodward said, recalling how one national security source told him that the “the intelligence was skimpy.”

From Associated Press, June 9, 2004
The news media should have been more skeptical of President Bush’s “zeal” to go to war with Iraq and the possibly “skimpy” prewar intelligence Bush used to justify the invasion, journalist Bob Woodward said Wednesday.

Woodward, author of a best-selling account of the 16 months leading to the war, said at a lecture at the Council on Foreign Relations that Bush believed it was his duty to overthrow former Iraqi President Saddam Hussein.

“I believe we have a duty to free people and liberate people,” Woodward said Bush told him during interviews for his book “Plan of Attack.”

Bush, who began his presidency as an opponent of “nation building,” now has a “zeal” to liberate oppressed people across the globe, Woodward said. “He wants his work, his administration, his presidency painted on a large canvas,” the journalist said.

In a lesser-reported fact from his book, Woodward said, the White House spied on former U.N. chief weapons inspector Hans Blix, who has said that the justifications for the Iraq war were unfounded.

“One of the things that’s gone unnoticed (in `Plan of Attack’) is … national intelligence assets spying on Hans Blix,” he said. “And Bush was getting these reports and felt that there was incongruity between what Blix was saying publicly and what he was actually doing. It makes it very clear we were wiretapping Hans Blix.”

A telephone call to the White House seeking response to Woodward’s remarks was not immediately returned Wednesday.

Woodward, a Washington Post journalist who wrote an earlier book on Bush’s anti-terrorism campaign and broke the Watergate scandal with Carl Bernstein, blamed himself and other journalists for not being aggressive enough in questioning the pre-war intelligence on Iraq’s purported weapons of mass destruction, a major reason used by Bush for war.

After more than a year of U.S.-led occupation of Iraq, no WMD stockpiles have been found.

“We need to be much more skeptical and inquisitive,” Woodward said, recalling how one national security source told him that the “the intelligence was skimpy.”

Last month, The New York Times printed a critique of its own reporting on Iraq and said it should have been more skeptical about some claims from Iraqi dissidents and more aggressive in following them up.

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