Woodward describes Obama's incoherent "terms sheet"

Bob Woodward's latest expose of a dysfunctional White House staff will prove as embarrassing to the Obama administration as his previous volumes were to previous administrations. Based only on this morning's accounts from the Washington Post and New York Times, Obama's Wars' greatest victim will not be a few bickering staffers but rather President Obama himself. According to Woodward and the newspaper accounts of his book, it was Obama who dictated the detailed specifications of America's military strategy in Afghanistan. These specifications arrived in the form of a six-page single-spaced "terms sheet," seemingtly drawn up to resemble a legal contract between Obama and his generals. But Obama's "terms sheet" is apparently a stew of bureaucratic and political compromises among interest groups, not a coherent strategy. Having personally written it, Obama will not be able to blame its inevitable failure on misguided staffers.

According to Woodward, Obama was frustrated with the military options presented to him in 2009, all of which called for escalation, nation-building, and a large open-ended military commitment in Afghanistan. Obama wanted none of these and growled at his military advisers for the messages they delivered. Obama seems to have had great trouble getting his staff to function properly. The problem is not the snide bickering, which is inevitable. The grave flaw appears to be the tight filters placed on the alternatives presented to Obama. "Personnel is policy." If all of Obama's military advice came from advisers who favor large-scale population-centric counterinsurgency, Obama should not be surprised when all of the options presented to him called for at least 30,000 more soldiers, nation-building, and an open-ended commitment. If this is in fact what happened during the 2009 deliberations, the blame for a poor staff process belongs to James Jones, Robert Gates, Admiral Mullen, and Obama himself.

As is already well-known, Obama has approved a population-centric counterinsurgency strategy but refused to fund it with the time necessary for success. Woodward also makes it clear that Obama proceeded with escalation even after acknowledging that the U.S. can't succeed while the Taliban's sanctuaries in Pakistan remain -- a problem that remains without a solution. What was newly revealed this morning is Obama's discomfort with his own strategy, his disdain for his military advisers, and his urgency to wind down America's military effort. As a result, Hamid Karzai will redouble his efforts to cut his own deals with Pakistan, the ISI, and the Taliban. And from that follows a higher risk of an Afghan civil war as its ethnic groups prepare to defend themselves.

Obama seems determined to resist any modification of his "terms sheet." But he and the military are not the only parties to the deal; the Taliban and reality are partners, too. Not long ago, Obama expressed pride at tripling the U.S. headcount in Afghanistan from the level left to him by the Bush administration. Escalation means greater risk and failure will mean three times the pain.

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Dennis M.:

Was the military given a time line? Or should they have just guessed? If that was what the President wanted he should have said what it was to be and realized the bad consequences that flow from a time line; consequences that are ensuing now. But he didn't (at least according to the stories).

"Exit plan" and "exit strategy" may be commonly used but to me they are bits of talking head punditry. Using them elicits knowing shakes of the head at in-crowd cocktail parties, but what do they really mean? I certainly don't precisely know.

I'll take a stab at it though. This is what I think the President wanted from the military, but he didn't come straight out and say it-"I want us out of Afghanistan pretty quick (undefined term). The primary objective isn't beating the Taliban or AQ, though we have to look as if we tried (undefined term). The primary objective is no matter what happens there after we leave, there is no or minimal political damage to me here at home. Think you guys can do that for me?"

That is my stab at outlining an "exit plan." Now if that is in any way correct, should the military be asked to come up with something whose primary purpose is domestic political advantage? I don't think it is their place to do that.

With all due respect, Carl, it seems a little ridiculous that the military leadership couldn't present a plan that was based on a realistic time line. The two plans that they presented called for troop levels of 100K plus until 2016, and did not include any trigger for an earlier withdrawal of troops. Do we just stay there until 2016 come hell or high water because the military says so? The problem with these proposals is that they are politically untenable. It is pretty clear that the military was unwilling to provide any way out -- any "exit plan." If they could not figure out what was meant by "exit plan," that it means exit strategy (a pretty commonly used term), then they were linguistically challenged. It just is not that hard a concept.

The Washington Post story said that Pres. Obama asked over and over again for an "exit plan." What is an exit plan? Is that a withdrawal according to a time table? Then say that and people will draw up a time table. Is it a time table based on arbitrary dates or one based on conditions? If so what conditions?

I could go on and on with this but the basic point is the term "exit plan" means nothing. If that was the thing the President insisted that he wanted, a thing that can't be defined, it is no wonder that everybody came back with what they thought would work best.

Uh, sorry about the double post...

One argument that seems to keep recurring here regarding the "options" that the Pentagon presented to the president is that the military presented the president with the only option that they believed would work. Did they seriously believe that these options were realistic? According the the excerpt of the book published in the Washington Post, the options presented were two options that increased troop level by 40,000 and kept them there until 2016, after which troop level might return to the pre-surge level. 2016?!?! Seven years of troop levels over 100K? Did they seriously believe that was a realistic course of action? The other two options were not specified, but were apparently considered infeasible by all parties.

Obama asked for a range of options and didn't get it. Whose fault is that? So he drafted a "terms sheet" to lay out what he expected from a plan for going forward. The reason these decisions are made by civilian leadership is that they are inherently political decisions and must take into account a wide range of factors beyond the strictly military considerations. One must way the cost of success, and whether the cost is worth it. If success can be achieved at some lower cost, then that seems to be something that the president should have available to him. Furthermore, success has to be defined. Again, the definition of success is going to be driven by politics. It seems that the military forgot these things, and simply assumed that they should be driving those decisions.

To me, the military failed the president by not acknowledging the political factors that the president was bound by. I am not sure why, but it makes sense that the president went ahead and made his own plan.

It seems that there is an inescapable tension between the mission of the military and the aims of the current administration. Per FM 1-0 and every other capstone-level guiding document from DoD, "the Armys mission is to fight and win our Nations wars." Similarly, the stated mission of the Air Force is "to Fly, Fight and Win." For career military men, there had to be some level of psychological tension in following the orders of CiC in trying to produce a plan that could not possibly result in mission success. This brings to mind the Joseph Collins article on Civ-Mil relationships that was previously discussed on the Combined Arms Center blog, and is appropriate here:
http://usacac.army.mil/blog/blogs/frontier6/archive/2010/06/25/thoughts-...
I'm interested in the perspective of those more knowledgeable and experienced than myself: In this context, when the President was demanding adherence to a policy that SecDef, CJCS, Centcom and COMISAF all felt would not, could not result in mission success, would this be one of those times where resignation would have been the more appropriate course of action? And would that/those resignation(s) have done more damage to civil-military relations in the long term than mission failure or less?

One argument that seems to keep recurring here regarding the "options" that the Pentagon presented to the president is that the military presented the president with the only option that they believed would work. Did they seriously believe that these options were realistic? According the the excerpt of the book published in the Washington Post, the options presented were two options that increased troop level by 40,000 and kept them there until 2016, after which troop level might return to the pre-surge level. 2016?!?! Seven years of troop levels over 100K? Did they seriously believe that was a realistic course of action? The other two options were not specified, but were apparently considered infeasible by all parties.

Obama asked for a range of options and didn't get it. Whose fault is that? So he drafted a "terms sheet" to lay out what he expected from a plan for going forward. The reason these decisions are made by civilian leadership is that they are inherently political decisions and must take into account a wide range of factors beyond the strictly military considerations. One must way the cost of success, and whether the cost is worth it. If success can be achieved at some lower cost, then that seems to be something that the president should have available to him. Furthermore, success has to be defined. Again, the definition of success is going to be driven by politics. It seems that the military forgot these things, and simply assumed that they should be driving those decisions.

To me, the military failed the president by not acknowledging the political factors that the president was bound by. I am not sure why, but it makes sense that the president went ahead and made his own plan.

@zenpundit

How accurate are Woodward's "insider" type administration profiles in general?

I would say that Woodward's reporting is more accurate than one would expect. However, the problem with his books is that they lack the context to separate the important self-justifying subject interview comments from the unimportant. It will be years before the other sources become available to allow us to tease the relevant from the irrelevant in Woodward's long-form journalistic accounts.

What strikes me as interesting is not the fact that there was a major debate over policy [Gasp! Really?] within Obama's administration, but the outcome. Back in 2005-2006, Bush was faced with a similar situation in that he could not get the national security bureaucracy to give him the policy choice on Iraq that he wanted. So instead, he apparently circumvented the chain of command and worked with outsiders and directly with the local commander to fashion what became known as the "surge."

In a similar set of circumstances, Obama chose to endorse an option in Afghanistan he clearly did not like, rather than continue to seek a policy option more to his liking, or to find someone to work with that would give him what he desired.

@zenpundit

How accurate are Woodward's "insider" type administration profiles in general?

I would say that Woodward's reporting is more accurate than one would expect. However, the problem with his books is that they lack the context to separate the important self-justifying subject interview comments from the unimportant. It will be years before the other sources become available to allow us to tease the relevant from the irrelevant in Woodward's long-form journalistic accounts.

What strikes me as interesting is not the fact that there was a major debate over policy [Gasp! Really?] within Obama's administration, but the outcome. Back in 2005-2006, Bush was faced with a similar situation in that he could not get the national security bureaucracy to give him the policy choice on Iraq that he wanted. So instead, he apparently circumvented the chain of command and worked with outsiders and directly with the local commander to fashion what became known as the "surge."

In a similar set of circumstances, Obama chose to endorse an option in Afghanistan he clearly did not like, rather than continue to seek a policy option more to his liking, or to find someone to work with that would give him what he desired.

In political science and economic terms, I think, this might be called obtaining a "credible commitments" by which to solve a "principal-agent" problem in which the agents (in this case, all but the president) have incentives to pursue their own agenda. This is similar to Carl although less accusatory: presidents have reasons to doubt their subordinates, just as managers in an organization have reasons to doubt their subordinates. The issue is one of human nature, not the status of the persons involved. The question to me is whether the purpose of the term sheets is ex ante or ex post, or none of the above: (1 ex ante) is it to get everyone on the same page (no pun intended) and have everyone specify their position(s) with clarity, (2 - ex ante) is to bind everyone to a commmitment (see above), or (3 - ex post) is it an instrument by which to (say) sack a subordinate for failure to live up to a term sheet's obligations, or is it (4 - organizational routine), as Term Sheets are suggested, and so did Mike Few with his reference to "Essence of Decision" (Allison's Model II) simply the way a lawyer who happens to be in the White House does business.

ADTS

The best description of what a terms sheet is used for was posted above and is as follows.

"The primary purpose for this is to have a piece of paper to waive around under the putative oppenent's nose when things go wrong at a later date."

That is a very useful thing to have in a legal action or procedure, sort of an "almost a contract" you can use to beat somebody with. It doesn't have much to do with leadership in my view, especially if the leader has genuine authority. I would hope a leader would define the course, make sure everybody understood, give them what they need, let everybody go forth to do good and watch to make sure it gets done. If it doesn't get done, find out why and take action.

To make or to have the "almost a contract" implies that the leader is afraid of his subordinates, afraid to exercise his authority or both. It is not the sort of thing to inspire confidence. He can do it that way if he likes but it strikes me as quite clerklike.

Let me proceed to another question: are term sheets a useful way to manage the policy process? If so, how? Some answers that come to mind are, (obviously) it commits its signatories or adherents to courses of actions, and clarifies what courses of action will be pursued. (Of course, "Term Sheets Are" above also lays out advantages or rationales for term sheets). It seems to me the problem lies not with the potential advantages or disadvantages of term sheets, but with their enforceability. Aside from potentially vague language subject to statutory interpretation that differs between parties, can pieces of paper really be used to control the policy process? How many terms or potentialities can a term sheet cover? How many ways can one finesse a term sheet? Is the use of "the wrong guy to f--- with" going to be covered in a term sheet? To repeat what I asked before, and which is admittedly probably an unanswerable question to those outside the White House, is the term sheet a standard management tool for POTUS, and a question for those outside the White House, is there a specific reason it might or might not be an appropriate one for "managing" the military?

ADTS

Let me proceed to another question: are term sheets a useful way to manage the policy process? If so, how? Some answers that come to mind are, (obviously) it commits its signatories or adherents to courses of actions, and clarifies what courses of action will be pursued. (Of course, "Term Sheets Are" above also lays out advantages or rationales for term sheets). It seems to me the problem lies not with the potential advantages or disadvantages of term sheets, but with their enforceability. Aside from potentially vague language subject to statutory interpretation that differs between parties, can pieces of paper really be used to control the policy process? How many terms or potentialities can a term sheet cover? How many ways can one finesse a term sheet? Is the use of "the wrong guy to f--- with" going to covered in a term sheet? To repeat what I asked before, and which is admittedly probably an unanswerable question to those outside the White House, is the term sheet a standard management tool for POTUS, and is there a specific reason it might or might not be an appropriate one for "managing" the military?

ADTS

For the most part a good discussion here in comments. That said, the one-liners that are now the trend between several posters stops now. All further such posts will be deleted.

in fact the "translation" you selected reveals more about your perogatives than mine, Total.

Ah, so you're not willing to stand behind your analysis, then?

@ Mike Few

Will listen to it. Congratulations by the way, which I don't think I've given, on joining the staff at SWJ.

@ Anonymous 2:26

Fair enough.

ADTS

ADTS

OK

In the Gulf War Bush senior was a major adherent to a very specific, limited political objective supported by a very specific warplan to meet that very specific political objective--he, along with the entire generation of his military advisors, understood that wars can suddenly offer apparent "opportunities" that seem too good to pass up. (E.g. Korean war's initial objective was to restore the ROK. With the overwhelming victory of Inchon, Truman bought into the political possibility of pushing back Communism and "liberating" all of the Korean pennisula.) This is my basis for suggesting Bush senior seemed to understand the nature of war better than his predessors and successors.

ADTS,

"For right now, I'll turn on YouTube and listen to OAR."

Make sure that you listen to "Conquering Fools." That's the process that I'd like to ultimately model mathematically. As I've joined the staff here, I won't opine too much outside of published essays, references, and book recommendations. We (now me included) strive to remain an open tent of discussion.

But don't worry, eventually I will publish my "Small Wars and the Theory of Games."

-Mike

Mike Few:

I've read "Essence" in its entirety; I've read parts of "Flawed by Design."

First, I assume you are listing "Essence" because of Allison's Model III (bureaucratic infighting)?

Second, I wasn't too impressed by "Flawed by Design" (which is why I read only part of it).* How is it related to your concept of this as a game of "chicken?"

(Incidentally, a pertinent book might be Richard Neustadt's "Presidential Power," which starts with Truman firing MacArthur. http://www.amazon.com/Presidential-Power-Modern-Presidents-Leadership/dp...)

Curious to hear more about this being a game of chicken. For right now, I'll turn on YouTube and listen to OAR. :)

ADTS

*I thought her work on intelligence reform - the articles, not the book, which I haven't read - is very good, even if I thought International Security (the journal) published a great rebuttal to it.

I would be interested in reading Woodward's inside to the firing of McCrystal's predecessor. To me this would be the place to start.

I'd qualify this as the oldest of poker games, sometimes a bit more of the game of chicken than the prisoner's dillema. For the specific American case, it has been on-going issue for each administration during the last fifty years, an issue that transcends both President GW Bush and Barrack Obama. For additional reading (and assisting the financial line of operation of the SWJ Empire), I'd recommend the following books.

The Essence of Decision: Explaining the Cuban Missile Crisis
by Graham Allison and Phillip Zelikow

http://www.amazon.com/dp/0321013492?tag=smallwarsjour-20&camp=14573&crea...

Flawed by Design: The Evolution of the JCS, CIA, and NSC
by Amy Zeigart

http://www.amazon.com/Flawed-Design-Evolution-CIA-JCS/dp/080474131X/ref=...

Anonymous 9:41:

I see no basis presented for why Bush Senior (41) had the greatest insight into war. Is it because he stopped the Gulf War 100 hours into its ground phase? Is it because he used overwhelming force in Panama and Desert Storm? To me neither seems sufficient, alone or together, to support the assertion you're making. I'm not saying he didn't have it - but you describe someone as having knowledge of an object incredibly complex - and then you don't specify what implies he had had it.

ADTS

How accurate are Woodward's "insider" type administration profiles in general?

80% ?

50 %?

30 % ?

ADTS

My selection of Presidents was intentionally a bit short. But your mentioning of FDR and Truman is worth a comment. As we know, no one had a clear idea of what FDR wanted out of WWII--other than defeating the Nazis and Imperial Japan, and ending European colonialism, and some sort of world government, run by the Big Five, latter called the United Nations. Truman never new what FDR was thinking but was a quick learner once the nature of the USSR became apparent even to a genuine New Dealer. But, as was evident in Korea, Truman too had no isight into the nature of war. Eike seems to have a better understanding of the nature of war, at least as I see it, as a social and political activity than any President since Washington. Bush senior is the closest. Grant had the vision but as President he had no need of this insight. Woodrow Wilson was a pathetic joke. Kennedy? Who knows? I have already mentioned JFK successors.

The Washington Post story makes it very clear that what Pres. Obama wanted was an exit plan. He wanted to know how we were going to leave Afghanistan, not how we were going to win, how we were going to leave. The soldiers kept coming back with how to win. It was as if the soldiers were waiting to hear we get out now regardless of the consequences and absent that, fell back to what soldiers do, try to win.

But the President was also very worried about future terrorism and how to make sure that didn't happen. He spoke that we shouldn't think of winning but of leaving the country stronger rather than weaker and also that the fighting will go on for a long long time. I was a bit confused as to what the President actually wanted, or more accurately, it seemed he wanted everything. It seems a little like somebody who doesn't truly recognize that having A means you can't have B, and if you try for both, you will have neither.

According to the story, the "terms sheet" was sprung on everybody during a meeting in which people were told if they had objections they were to be stated then or not at all. That is great way to paint people into a corner but maybe not advisable if you want their best counsel (though maybe advisable if you don't). What resulted is the mish-mash Mr. Haddick describes, a little bit of Specops adventuring, a little bit of small wars, we have to attack them in Pakisstan and oh by the way there is s deadline. The "terms sheet" will be published in the book.

I don't think Pres. Obama was given only the small war option to choose. My reading is the soldiers presented that option as giving the best chance of winning. He didn't like it. He was also presented with something called a "hybrid option" favored by Mr. Biden. He didn't like that either. He also didn't just want to say we're out of here. The president does not seem to be a very decisive man.

dayne: comments like that have no place here. please leave.

If it is true that the only options that the President was presented with were COIN and Nation building that shows the dangerous influence liberal lobbying groups like CNAS have had on our national strategy. They're selling snake oil to the government and the American people, and a lot of young men and women are paying the price for their unfounded ideas, and the rest of America is paying out their nose to invest in the mindless effort.

This comment was deleted by SWJ Editors. Please refrain from using obscene language and personal attacks.

entitled to "translate" it as you wish (not sure into what language)...in fact the "translation" you selected reveals more about your perogatives than mine, Total.

The importance of this term sheet "revelation" if you want to call it that is that it gives insight into Obama's governance style--negotiation. Now you can "translate" that negativly as well, perhaps into Dutch this time?

This may be an over simplification, but I would imagine the last long war gone south for an administration, saw much of the same thing that Woodward offers forward from his sources?

Sources that Woodward never offers opinions on as to their motives in discussing titillating tid-bits hes sat on and put together for a book release, which probably should be judged with varying degrees of prejudice by the wise analytical reader.

it was necessarily a bad idea, Total?

It was phrased that way, yes: "The primary purpose for this is to have a piece of paper to waive around under the putative oppenent's nose when things go wrong at a later date."

Ignoring the "waive" vs. "wave" issue, the last sentence translates very negatively.

Anonymous,

Keep in mind that the 40,000 vs. 30,000 soldiers debate amounts to a difference of 10,000 in the total of ~120,000 ISAF soldiers, and so is not really an enormous issue.

Also, if I check my Galula, official (if you could call Galula that) COIN doctrine suggests a ratio of 10-20 counterinsurgents per guerilla (Pg 21 of the PSI edition). If we assume about 30,000 Taliban, that means you need 300,000-600,000 counterinsurgents. 120,000 ISAF + 200,000 ANA (we can all hope eventually) gets you in the ball park. But even the Generals weren't requesting a force of 300,000 US troops.

I find it curious to criticize a Pakistani safe haven when the article also mentions a covert Afghan force of 3000 moving at will between the two countries at out behest. Whether that comes back to bite us in the ass is of course an entirely separate issue.

The issue of a trustworthy committed host nation on the other hand would point to the impossibility of a successful COIN mission regardless of what we do if one is to go by the conventional wisdom on COIN.

Don't get me wrong, I'm not trying to defend President Obama,
personally I'm irritated with the implicit hypocrisy in all of this, but to claim that it is his decision that has doomed us to inevitable failure seems somewhat narrow.

it was necessarily a bad idea, Total?

if the administration used term sheets in other areas of governance, ADTS. I have no personal knowledge, however. People do as people are. Former actors will bring a sense of showmanship and style to the presidency, while former lawyers will act as lawyers in office. No mystery here.

Private lawyers of Obama's ilk use term sheets in negotiations to draw out the other side's positions, to make them commit on paper.

Eek. Wow, that is a terrible idea: having people state their arguments/positions clearly.

Term Sheets are...

Do you think Obama uses term sheets in other aspects of his governing?

ADTS

a lawyer's tool, and Obama is a lawyer. And I'm not talking about the JAG variety that many on this board are most familiar with. Private lawyers of Obama's ilk use term sheets in negotiations to draw out the other side's positions, to make them commit on paper. While it may or may not amount to an legally enforceable contract, a good lawyer will have his opponent staked out on his or her respective positions in writing by the conclusion of negotiations. The primary purpose for this is to have a piece of paper to waive around under the putative oppenent's nose when things go wrong at a later date.

Oh, it is inevitable. It has all the ingredients: conduct COIN without enough troops within an unrealistic time-line, appease Karzai and his cronies, appease Pakistan enough to ensure the enemy a safe haven.... That is a stock tip you can take to the bank total. He would have been better off going with Biden's option, better one strategy than a mish-mash of several. COIN is COIN and COIN-lite/CT-plus is hogwash.

I'm glad to see that your argumentation abilities rise to the level of "is so" "is not" "is so"

Try again, please.

Oh, it is inevitable. It has all the ingredients: conduct COIN without enough troops within an unrealistic time-line, appease Karzai and his cronies, appease Pakistan enough to ensure the enemy a safe haven.... That is a stock tip you can take to the bank total. He would have been better off going with Biden's option, better one strategy than a mish-mash of several. COIN is COIN and COIN-lite/CT-plus is hogwash.

its inevitable failure.

Uh, ahead of yourself much? Since you seem to be psychic, could I have some stock tips?

On a more serious note, we could point to *lots* of examples of wars in which the strategy was decided by political infighting and compromising. Just in WWII, the invasion of Italy, the dual attack strategy in the Pacific in that same war, the broad front strategy in Europe 1944-45 all leap to mind as examples. Yet, shockingly, WWII was a victory.

Anonymous 3:27

I imagine you would say Eisenhower possessed such an understanding. Your rogue's gallery, though, seems somewhat suspect in its selection. Would you say the same about FDR or Truman? And furthermore, must one undertake a course - formal or informal (I remember reading that Lincoln gave himself such a course) - to conduct a war properly? Of what would such a course consist (asked out of curiosity)? More formal, theoretical writings such as Clasewitz, or more empirical histories of war(s)?

ADTS

It would seem that BHO has the same problem that LBJ, Clinton, and GW Bush had, namely, a total lack of understanding of the nature of war. None studied war in any serious fashion--and I am not taking tactics or operational art. No, I mean they lack the benefit of studying war as a political and social activity that is inclined to go in directions -- both domestically and in the field -- that are unpredictable, frustrating, and irreversible. In short, they fail to understand that no one can control a war; that all wars, no matter how apparently small, can result in disaster on the battlefield and/or at home. Only Bush senior seems to have had this insight.

I haven't read the book - obviously - but a question popped in my head (aside from my brilliant insight into Woodward's reporting strategy):

Is drawing up term sheets common for Obama, or was it sui generis for Afghanistan?

I think this arguably raises a few corollary questions? Is this his way of compensating for a poor staff process? To avoid being sucked into a quagmire? Is it (isn't it) naive to assume a piece of paper will be sufficient to control bureaucracy and the military?

Why is Obama proud of himself for escalating the troop level beyond what was left him by Bush? Would, say, dovish generals - Eisenhower is who I have in mind (bearing in mind that he was arguably hawkish with respect to Vietnam; see Mark Moyar, Triumph Forsaken) - be so proud, or so inclined? And what does that say about Petraeus - that any commander wants more troops, or something else?

Superb commentary and summary by Mr. Haddick.

ADTS

It was rumored that Gen. McChristal wanted to get fired. Maybe, that was true!

As Mike F would (might) say, this is a crazy game of poker. To be more specific, I imagine Woodward utilizes "the prisoner's dilemma" (as Slapout 9 or JMM might or might not confirm): "I'm going to have other sources talking about you, so you better tell me about them." Hence dirty laundry is almost inevitably aired. Whether this impacts the veracity of his accounts - or even improves them - I don't know. But I humbly and merely put forth that this, I somewhat suspect, is the methodology Woodward utilizes.

ADTS