WOODWARD: I think he --
SAWYER: General Petraeus. Anybody specifically? Admiral Mullen?
WOODWARD: I think he gets -- at one of the meetings, if I can quote indirectly, he just says, I'm pissed. And he is, because they keep coming back about details. And they're trying to push him in that direction, and he's pushing back.
SAWYER: However unhappy he is, his political team is not measured. You have scenes in which Rahm Emanuel and David Axelrod are going directly and complaining.
WOODWARD: And very upset about the push from the military.
SAWYER: At one point Rahym says to him, "You can't do that. The president hasn't made that decision. I didn't hear him make that decision."
WOODWARD: Yes. I mean, that's fascinating. This is day three of the administration.
They have their first NSC meeting, National Security Council meeting on Afghanistan. And the president leaves early, and General Petraeus, who is the central commander at that point, says, OK, I'm going to move on sending more troops that we've requested. Rahm Emanuel steps in like a sledgehammer and says, "General, I know you're doing your job. Thank you, but I didn't hear the president make that decision."
SAWYER: But at another point when there are complaints about General Petraeus giving a speech, and the word had gone out, "Button down, everybody," and he gave a television interview anyway, the spokesman delivers the anger to him. And what does he say?
WOODWARD: I won't quote it because it doesn't work on network news. I mean, they're -- this is Veterans Day, one of the last meetings they're having. And Petraeus is giving an interview to CNN about one of the soldiers who's been wounded who's recovered.
And Geoff Morrell, who's the Pentagon spokesman, sees this on television and he can't believe it. He goes ballistic. They had banned everyone from giving interviews. And he calls Petraeus' spokesman and calls him things I don't even want to repeat.
It turns out Petraeus' spokesman is with Petraeus, and he hands the phone to Petraeus, who then tells Geoff Morrell, "Calm down. I know how to do this. I know how to talk and not make news. Relax."
SAWYER: And they're blanking with the wrong man?
WOODWARD: Yes. And at one point -- and this is not a year ago, this is four months ago -- there's this sense that Petraeus is not included in the inner circle, is not part of the team. And they're...
SAWYER: Do they think he's going to run for president?
WOODWARD: I think some of them do. In fairness, Petraeus insists that he's not. But he's never quite there, and, in fact, they push him on some of these TV shows and Petraeus tells an aid that he thinks David Axelrod is nothing but a complete spin doctor.
And when they -- when they push him, last spring, he gets pretty angry, Petraeus does, and says they're F-ing with the wrong person.
SAWYER: A couple of quick things about this period and then we'll move on.
At one point, former Vice President Cheney comes out and says they're dithering. And while they're dithering, American lives are at stake.
As you went through this process -- this long process which was wearing for everybody on the outside, much more for those on the inside, what took so long?
Why did it take so long?
Was it too long?
WOODWARD: Well, as President Obama has said -- and he's correct about this -- the debate -- there was no request for more troops during that period. It was all going to begin this year. So it didn't delay any troops getting there.