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


SAWYER: You also tell us about RTRG -- real-time regional getaway -- a brand new kind of technological ability?

WOODWARD: Yes. The NSA, that does the eavesdropping, communication intercepts, have, over the years, developed what is called this RTRG, real-time regional gateway, where they can pick up things in a way and process literally so the second day -- it's two days after Obama was elected president, the intel people went with him and said now we're going to tell you the real secrets. And this is one of them. And it is a fantastic capability. It helped us in Iraq. It helped us everywhere, because – and I do not go into the details or the wiring diagrams of how it works. But it is one of those game changers.

SAWYER: But, again, the devil's advocate here -- isn't that one of the things you don't want your enemy to know?

WOODWARD: They know because...

SAWYER: And now it's in writing?

WOODWARD: -- because look at what we're -- we do to them. And it's -- it is an amazing -- it's one of those transforming technological breakthroughs that doesn't just have to do with intelligence gathering. In the end, it's going to have to do with about -- with civilian communications and our capacity to assimilate, you know, literally libraries of data and collate it with other libraries of data.

SAWYER: I'd love to just run through and do a few portraits, if I can, of some of the people who are so instrumental in the -- the drama in the book.

The president himself -- I want to read what you wrote about President Bush and how you compared the two of them. Here I am with my...

You wrote about former President Bush, that he was recalling. "First of all, a president has got to be the calcium in the backbone," he's saying. "If I weaken, the whole team weakens. If I'm doubtful, I can assure you, there will be a lot of doubt."

And then you go on to write, at one point, about him toward the end of your book, that "President Bush had displayed impatience, bravado, and unsettling personal certainty about his decisions. The result has too often been impulsiveness and carelessness, and perhaps most troubling, a delayed reaction to realities and advice that run counter to his gut."

WOODWARD: He told me. President Bush told me. He said, "I'm a gut player, not a textbook player. That's where I get my decisions from. And if you examine, as I did in four books, how President Bush decided and handled the Iraq War, all of the meetings were about how to do it, how to invade Iraq, not whether to do it. Barack Obama, on the other hand, is a head player. And the law professor, considering all the angles, looking at it.

People are going to -- I -- I'm, to folks, this is a -- such a detailed portrait of him. I mean we've had little portraits and spins and so forth. But this is him wrestling with probably the greatest decision a human being ever has to make.

SAWYER: Did you conclude that it was too much of a cerebral approach, too much of the professorial?

WOODWARD: I did not. It all depends on outcomes, as Karl Rove used to say. And you look at this and it turns out Barack Obama designed his own Afghan War strategy. He took a little bit from Gates, he took a little bit from Rahm Emanuel, he took a little bit from General Jones, he took a little bit here and...

SAWYER: And, again, he sits down and he writes a six page document?

WOODWARD: He dictates. He dictates.

SAWYER: He dictates a six page document...

WOODWARD: To the military.

Join the Discussion
blog comments powered by Disqus
You Might Also Like...