The Bush administration conducted an extensive spying operation on Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki and other Iraqi leaders even while seeking to win their trust, according to a new book from the Washington Post's Bob Woodward. The book portrays an administration hamstrung by indecision as its Iraq strategy fell apart in 2006, and a detached president orchestrated "overconfident" briefings on the situation.
The Watergate reporter interviewed the president and dozens of other officials for The War Within: A Secret White House History, 2006-2008. Woodward takes a critical look at the administration's policy and pronouncements on Iraq, concluding, among other things, that the surge was not the primary factor behind the reduction in violence. Bush "too often failed to lead," Woodward writes in a cutting epilogue assessing the president's performance.