The Condensed Bob Woodward
Slate reads Plan of Attack so you don't have to.
Page 116-17: Months before the war begins, Tenet assures Iraq's top Kurdish leaders that the U.S. military will attack the Baathist regime. Bush has issued no such order, but Tenet proves right. As Woodward puts it, "He would sell fucking tea to Chinamen to make sure his officers got protection."
Page 186-87: Bush cites a CIA report that says 71 percent of the French population sees Saddam as a "threat to world peace." The report is bogus—the French vigorously oppose the war.
Page 247-49: At a December 2002 briefing, Tenet's deputy makes the case that Iraq is harboring weapons of mass destruction. Bush says, "I've been told all this intelligence about having WMD and this is the best we've got?" Tenet raises his arms and says, "Don't worry, it's a slam-dunk!" To date, no WMD have been found in Iraq.
Page 387-99: On March 19, 2003, Tenet informs Bush of CIA reports that suggest Saddam and his sons are hiding out on an Iraqi farm. Later, after an airstrike ordered by the president, Tenet says, "Tell the president we got the son of a bitch." Saddam and his sons survive the attack.
Woodward's Table Scraps
Every Woodward production contains a half-dozen throwaway details that would make lesser reporters drool. Here's the best of the lot:
Page 11: Bush as glutton: At a Pentagon briefing, staffers lay out peppermint candy for each attendee. Bush scarfs down his peppermint, and then begins to eye Bill Cohen's treat, which the former secretary gladly relinquishes. Gen. Hugh Shelton, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs, "noticed Bush eyeing his mint, so he passed it over."
Page 112: On a Mideast trip, Lynne Cheney lunches with an emir's wife. When do the children here in Bahrain begin school? she asks. The emir's wife reminds Cheney that she's in Qatar.
Page 184: The TelePrompTer text of Bush's climactic speech to the United Nations somehow omits his call for resolutions against the Iraqi regime. Bush remembers and ad-libs the line.
Page 186: Bush aide Nick Calio declares his intention to vitiate a congressional filibuster. Bush says, "Nicky, what the fuck are you talking about, vitiate?"
Page 336: A CIA report suggests that Saddam, whose army can barely muster working tanks or planes, has red-and-white submarines patrolling the Tigris River. The agency immediately discards the report.
Bryan Curtis, Slate's "Middlebrow" columnist, writes for Grantland, Texas Monthly, and Newsweek. Follow him on Twitter.