The condensed Bob Woodward.

How to read juicy books.
April 21 2004 5:51 PM

The Condensed Bob Woodward

Slate reads Plan of Attack so you don't have to.

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Want to read Bob Woodward's new book, Plan of Attack, without plowing through all 467 gossip-soaked pages? We can help! Slate has taken Woodward's tome and reduced it to a point-by-point executive summary. Grab a copy from the nearest bookstore and read along.

Secrets of the Bushies

Page 9: The first sign of the Bush administration's desire to attack Iraq comes days before Bush's 2001 inauguration. Dick Cheney asks outgoing Defense Secretary Bill Cohen to brief the president "about Iraq and different options." During the briefing, Cheney falls asleep.

Page 25: Hours after the Sept. 11 attacks, Donald Rumsfeld asks Pentagon colleagues about the possibility of striking Saddam Hussein. An aide records in his notes: "hit S.H. @ same time—not only UBL [Usama Bin Laden]."

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Page 190: In September 2002, Bush tells the press that Iraq can launch a biological or chemical attack within 45 minutes—an assertion that the CIA finds completely phony. Director George Tenet refers to it as the "they-can-attack-in-45-minutes shit."

Page 250: Karl Rove, a Norwegian-American, is obsessed with the "historical duplicity" of the Swedes, who seized Norway back in 1814. This nationalism manifests itself as hatred for Swedish weapons inspector Hans Blix.

Page 290: Paul Wolfowitz, one of the administration's fiercest neocons, entertains wild theories linking al-Qaida to remnants of Cold War spycraft. He wonders whether Bin Laden is in league with former East German intelligence agents. Unnamed "heads of state" warn him that al-Qaida may be working with ex-KGB officers.

Page 324: Saudi ambassador Prince Bandar bin Sultan hints that the Saudi regime will tinker with oil prices to boost the American economy before the 2004 elections.

Colin Powell vs. Dick Cheney and Donald Rumsfeld

Page 25: Much of Woodward's book involves the administration's efforts to marginalize, or completely ignore, Colin Powell. After Rumsfeld and others raise the idea of striking Iraq in response to 9/11, Powell tells Gen. Hugh Shelton, "What the hell! What are these guys thinking about? Can't you get these guys back in the box?"