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.
There is a kind of ground hog quality to these meetings. At the same time, these are the real issues. And, you know, one which kind of pulses below the surface but really is what it's about is Pakistan. And in one of the meetings, President Obama says, the real cancer is in Pakistan, because that's where al Qaeda is, in the safe havens; that's where the Taliban leadership is; and the Taliban soldiers -- fighters come over from Afghanistan to Pakistan, have R&R, holiday, and then they're off back to fight and kill Americans.
And it's Leon Panetta, the CIA director, who goes to Pakistan and says, this is a crazy kind of war and literally tells the Pakistanis, we know from their intelligence, overhead and other intelligence, that the Taliban and Pakistan will load up a truck with weapons, get a bunch of fighters, go to the border, get waved through Pakistani checkpoints to go kill Americans.
SAWYER: And President Zardari, on his side, comes back with his own, what -- it's not -- I don't want to say paranoid -- but his own complete construct of what the war is about, which is India for him?
WOODWARD: And the Pakistanis. They're always concerned about India.
SAWYER: And the Pakistanis. And that the U.S. is somehow implicated in that. You're dealing -- you're dealing with everybody's suspicion about everybody else at such a level that it doesn't seem that they're talking about the -- the possibilities of strategies -- joint strategies...
WOODWARD: It's -- Leon Panetta's right, it's a crazy kind of war. Let me -- just take a, I think, one of the most revealing -- at least I've found -- moments in all of this, May 19th. Obama sends General Jones, his national security adviser, and CIA Director Panetta, to Pakistan. This is less than three weeks after the Times Square bomber almost killed hundreds or more people. And we discovered through intelligence quite conclusively that he was trained by the insurgent group called the TTP in Pakistan.
So Jones and Panetta go to Zardari, the president, the others -- leaders in Pakistan -- and they -- General Jones says to him, he says, you know, this attack in Times Square, it didn't happen, it didn't go off. But as far as we're concerned, it was successful, because we never stopped it, we didn't know about it -- American intelligence. Pakistani intelligence didn't know about it. And they roll out hair raising details about the intelligence, not only from this group, but from all the groups trying to attack in the United States.
SAWYER: When luck stops a potential terrorist, it's not the failure of -- or success for American intelligence?
WOODWARD: That's the right way to frame it, because we're supposed to know about these things, particularly given Pakistan is an ally.