Credit Union Questions For Bob Woodward

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Credit unions had the following questions for journalist Bob Woodward following his remarks to CUNA's GAC:

Q: What has been the biggest effect of Watergate?

Woodward: It changed the presidency and it changed the Congress for a while and it changed my business. Particularly in my business we became more aggressive, and I think in general that's a good thing. After Nixon resigned, I remember Carl (Bernstein) and I got a letter from (Washington Post publisher) Katherine Graham in which she wrote, 'Beware the demon pomposity.' I think that has been the demon for some in the news business to think we know more than we do.

Q: Why not more attention paid to the war in Afghanistan?

Woodward: In my book "Bush at War" there is some attention to it. Even John Kerry had praise for the response to 9/11. There have been some criticisms, but basically it is agreed we had to go to Afghanistan and destroy the Taliban and the sanctuary bin Laden had.

What is amazing is that this man remains missing after the biggest manhunt in the history of the world. How do you hide for so long? I worry sometime that we will find him in Cincinnati.

Q: What about U.S. ports and borders?

Woodward: The magnitude of what comes into this country in containers and equipment and products and people, there is no conceivable way to go through all that. You would stop trade. One of the mysteries to me, just like the mysteries of bin Laden, is why there hasn't been a terrorist attack since 9/11. A very dark answer I have and worry about is that they should have attacked by now. That they didn't is astonishing; when something doesn't happen that should there has to be a reason. A very dark possibility is that someone has told the people from al Qaeda to wait and perhaps have 10 or 15 attacks simultaneously. And I think the people in the intelligence business are deeply worried.

Q: The Islamic World is up in flames with cartoons of the prophet? How far can freedom of the press go?

Woodward: There is a First amendment and a right, and at the same time there must be an inherent respect for someone's religion. And if someone is so deeply offended, it gives pause. We are in pause right now.

Q: What about your role in the CIA leak case?

Woodward: I learned about the identity of Valerie Plame and that she worked at the CIA as a weapons of mass destruction analyst, not an undercover agent. I passed it along to another reporter at the Post, although he doesn't remember it. I did not want to be subpoenaed, it was passed along to me in a gossipy way. I went back to my source, and I said you told me this on this date, and said I am going to go to the prosecutor and tell him what I told you, so please tell them. A reporter's job is not to go to the prosecutor; a reporter's job is to go about his business. I remember after Watergate, Sen. Sam Ervin (Texas) called me up and said, "We're going to have a Senate investigation of Watergate: can you tell me who your sources are?" I said no. And he respected our right to protect confidential sources.

Q: Did the president only look at evidence that suggested going to war?

Woodward: Bush and his team, not Collin Powell, were spring-loaded to go to war. The war planning was such that they kept telling President Bush that it's going to be easy. One person said we're going to Baghdad so quick it's like poop through a goose. Were there considerations of the downside? I think people will look at it today and say not very much.

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