President Obama "urgently looked for a way out of the war in Afghanistan last year," The Washington Post writes this morning, "repeatedly pressing his top military advisers for an exit plan that they never gave him, according to secret meeting notes and documents cited in a new book by journalist Bob Woodward."
The New York Times leads its story about what Woodward's got with this:
"Some of the critical players in President Obama's national security team doubt his strategy in Afghanistan will succeed and have spent much of the last 20 months quarreling with one another over policy, personalities and turf."
This is Woodward's first book about the inner workings of the Obama administration and if the legendary reporter's past work is a guide, it will be dissected and debated for days as the details emerge. It doesn't officially go on sale until Monday. The Times says it "obtained a copy" but doesn't state how. The Post — where Woodward made his fame reporting about Watergate and still works — doesn't go into how it got an advance look.
Some other early words about the book:
— The Post says "most of the book centers on the strategy review, and the dissension, distrust and infighting that consumed Obama's national security team as it was locked in a fierce and emotional struggle over the direction, goals, timetable, troop levels and the chances of success for a war that is almost certain to be one of the defining events of this presidency.
"Obama is shown at odds with his uniformed military commanders, particularly Adm. Mike Mullen, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, and Gen. David H. Petraeus, head of U.S. Central Command during the 2009 strategy review and now the top U.S. and NATO commander in Afghanistan."
— The Times writes that it "depicts an administration deeply torn over the war in Afghanistan even as the president agreed to triple troop levels there amid suspicion that he was being boxed in by the military. Mr. Obama's top White House adviser on Afghanistan and his special envoy for the region are described as believing the strategy will not work."
— Obama was "frustrated with his military commanders for consistently offering only options that required significantly more troops," according to the Post, and "finally crafted his own strategy, dictating a classified six-page 'terms sheet' that sought to limit U.S. involvement."
— According to the Times, "the book offers fresh disclosures on the nation's continuing battle with terrorists. It reports that the CIA has a 3,000-man 'covert army' in Afghanistan called the Counterterrorism Pursuit Teams, or C.T.P.T., mostly Afghans who capture and kill Taliban fighters and seek support in tribal areas."
— According to the Post, "a classified exercise in May showed that the government was woefully unprepared to deal with a nuclear terrorist attack in the United States. The scenario involved the detonation of a small, crude nuclear weapon in Indianapolis and the simultaneous threat of a second blast in Los Angeles. Obama, in the interview with Woodward, called a nuclear attack here "a potential game changer." He said: 'When I go down the list of things I have to worry about all the time, that is at the top, because that's one where you can't afford any mistakes.' "
The Times says "the White House had no comment on the book Tuesday night." The Post doesn't indicate it tried to get comment.