TRANSCRIPT: Bob Woodward Talks to ABC's Diane Sawyer About 'Obama's Wars'


WOODWARD: You know, I -- boy, I'm ducking, because he -- you know, in a way, they opened up, not willingly, but a lot of people responded. I got a lot of information. There's that -- I think in almost every one in government, there's that secret part of them that wants to -- yes, this is what it's really like. This is what's going on.

And somebody with the time can go around and pull on that string, and so in many cases, there was a dump of lots of data. And so, you know, I'm going to let others judge.

SAWYER: Can we play the tape?


OBAMA: I said very early on as a senator and continued to believe as a presidential candidate and now as president that we can -- we can absorb a terrorist attack. We do -- we'll do everything we can to prevent it, but even a 9/11 -- even a -- the -- the biggest attack ever, that ever took place on our soil, we absorbed it and we are stronger. That this is a strong, powerful country that we live in, and our people are incredibly resilient.


SAWYER: Did he say it before?

WOODWARD: As best I can tell, no. And for the president of the United States to say we can absorb a terrorist attack, some -- somewhat like the head of a Wall Street firm saying, you know, we can absorb another financial crisis, it's realistic. I think we can.

My sense, knowing the cascade of warnings and data and worries -- I mean, all the people run around the White House and say, "We're living on borrowed time, in terms of a terrorist attack," it's -- you know, presidents are always in the messaging business, and I suspect consciously, unconsciously, he's laying the groundwork for telling the people we can absorb it, we'll try to prevent it, we're strong, we got over 9/11, but it's not a world of zero defects.

SAWYER: He talked, though, about a game-changer.


OBAMA: A potential game-changer would be a nuclear weapon in the hands of terrorists blowing up in a major American city or a weapon of mass destruction in a major American city. And so when I go down the list of things I have to worry about all the time, the -- that is at the top, because that's one area where you can't afford any mistakes.


WOODWARD: Good warning. And it's right that it's at the top of his list. And this exercise they conducted four months ago about a nuclear weapon going off in Indianapolis, you see we're not quite prepared to deal with a calamity like that.

SAWYER: As you were covering it, did anything in you say, "I think there's more you could do. I think there's more you should be doing"? No part of you, non-journalist part of you said, "Hey, there is something more"?

WOODWARD: Yes, there is a lot more. President Bush was criticized by a lot of people for not asking after 9/11 for more from people. He said go shopping. And he said more, but he also said go shopping. He didn't come out and say, we all are going to have to sacrifice something. We're going to, in fact, maybe have to sacrifice a lot. I'm going to call on all of you for something.

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