SAWYER: So looking at everything you found out and everything you reported, is this any way to run a war?
WOODWARD: You know, the nice thing about being a journalist is you don't have to give grades or make judgments. You just try to chart what happened. I'm convinced people will have very different reactions to this. I think there's so much new about what -- how he looks at this, how his mind works, what the turmoil and danger is out there.
I -- I -- I suspect a lot of people are just going to say, "Oh, you mean that group, and that group, and this group is trying to attack us?" And we don't know. We didn't -- you know, the Times Square bomber, he's not going to be in the history books, because it didn't go off. Well, Leon Panetta went to Pakistan and said, if this had gone off, hundreds if not thousands of people would have been killed. Then it would have been in the history books.
And General Jones and Panetta made the point. They just said, you are putting us in a corner. Panetta said, all bets are off about being allies, about being strategic partners. If this happens, you know, the world's going to change in lots of ways. And Dick Cheney is going to be out there, wagging his finger. Whether with justice or wrongly, he's going to be wagging his finger and going to say, "We didn't let it happen again on our watch."
And so, you know, you come away with the feeling -- somebody said to me the other day, this will be my last book, and it'll be called, "It's Hard to be President."
SAWYER: You dedicate it to those who serve. At the end of the day, what do you say to them about how flawed, how good, how capable their leaders are and are not?
WOODWARD: They're going to -- they're going to have to judge for themselves, but the -- the question you have to ask -- and I asked some of the major players in all of this -- what do we owe those people who serve? They're out there. We're not. What do we owe them? And one of them just said, "Everything."
And I just asked, how are we doing? Are we giving them everything? No. And that's part of the dilemma in this, and this is why I pick war. And it's different. It's defining. It's at the center of the being of whoever is president. It is at the center of the being of this country. And how we do -- tell me, how we do in this war in 10 or 20 years and I'll tell you a lot about America's place in the world.
SAWYER: And are we not giving them everything because we can't, because we are too distractible? Why?
WOODWARD: A lot of things seem petty, don't they, when you look at what has happened and what -- the sacrifices people make. I don't have the answer to that. But what I think you -- you know, we have a limited role, journalists and book authors, and that is, peer inside. And if you don't -- if you get caught up in, you know, the daily gossip and the daily stuff they talk about on television too much and on blogs and so forth, you're peering in the wrong direction.
And the inside of what this country is and who President Obama is and who this administration is, as close as you're going to get is to how they wrestled with really life-and-death decisions. Obama went out to Dover to see the returning caskets and cases and so forth. And people -- you know, what's he doing that for? What's going -- he told an aide, he said, I want to see how the families react and deal with this. And he spent the time not looking at caskets. He spent the time talking to the families, listening to them.