Introducing: 60 Minutes All Access Learn More +
Unlimited, ad-free viewing of 60 Minutes archives, Overtime and extras
Toggle

Woodward: Military Brass Opposed Surge

Also Tells 60 Minutes U.S. Has Secret Military Capability; And That U.S. Has Been Spying On Iraq's PM

At the time, top military advisors were urging the president to reduce U.S. forces so Iraqis would do more of the fighting. But the president asked his national security advisor, Steven Hadley, to work on a different strategy, and three weeks after the '06 election, Mr. Bush was moving towards a fateful decision.

"The president traveled to Amman, Jordan, to meet with Prime Minister Maliki, and behind closed doors he said what to him?" Pelley asked Woodward.

"He said, 'I am prepared to send tens of thousands of more troops here. And I need your cooperation. I need your endorsement of this idea.' Maliki's a little resistant, but eventually, they hammer home, and get Maliki to go on board with this," Woodward said.

"So the president has told Maliki, 'There's gonna be a surge of thousands of troops.' Has the president told General Casey, his top man in Baghdad, that?" Pelley asked.

"No, no. The military is kind of on the outside of this, because they are adhering to the strategy of drawing down," Woodward said.

The president decided the new strategy needed a new team; he replaced many in the military leadership. Woodward reports that even the influence of Vice President Dick Cheney diminished sharply.

"When the president decides to replace or fire Rumsfeld, he doesn't consult Cheney," Woodward explained. "He calls him in privately after a meeting, day or two before the announcement that Rumsfeld is gonna be replaced, and he says, 'I'm replacing Rumsfeld.' Cheney's surprised and says, 'With whom?' He says, 'With Bob Gates.' And Cheney's pretty open and says, 'Well I disagree, but it's obviously your call.'"

The president also replaced General Casey. The new general in charge of Iraq was David Petraeus, an early advocate of a surge. Woodward says that in a private meeting in the Oval Office, the president told Petraeus he was sending in nearly 30,000 additional troops.

"He says, 'You know we're committing these five brigades. It's double down,' using a gambler's term," Woodward told Pelley. "And Petraeus says, 'No Mr. President. It's not double-down. It's all in.'"

Playing the new hand, Petraeus created small bases throughout Baghdad, put troops on patrol in neighborhoods, and largely calmed the streets. In western Iraq, in Anbar province, the heart of the insurgency, Sunni tribal leaders, tired of al Qaeda, started coming over to the American side.