Woodward: Don't credit surge for Iraq turnaround

In his new book, the investigative journalist credits covert ops with reducing violence in Iraq.

Published September 5, 2008 7:47PM (EDT)

At a campaign stop in Cedarburg, Wis., Friday, Sarah Palin skewered Barack Obama for not supporting the 2007 troop surge in Iraq: "I guess when you turn out to be profoundly wrong on a vital national security issue, maybe it's comforting to pretend that everyone else was wrong too," Palin zinged.

Maybe. Or, maybe the vaunted surge, in which President Bush sent nearly 30,000 additional troops to Iraq, isn't all it's been cracked up to be.

Today, the Washington Post reports that in Bob Woodward's new book, "The War Within: A Secret White House History 2006-2008," which will be released on Monday, the investigative journalist contends that the surge wasn't the primary reason that violence decreased in Iraq over the past 16 months. "Rather, Woodword reports 'groundbreaking' new covert techniques enabled U.S. military and intelligence officers to locate, target, and kill insurgent leaders and key individuals in extremist groups such as al-Qaeda in Iraq," the Post reports.

It was these covert operations, along with militant cleric Muqtada al-Sadr reining in his Mahdi Army and tens of thousands of Sunnis turning against al-Qaida in Iraq and allying with U.S. forces, in addition to the surge, that lessened the violence in the country, according to "The War Within."

Maybe the Obama campaign should send Sarah Palin a copy.

By Katharine Mieszkowski

Katharine Mieszkowski is a senior writer for Salon.

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2008 Elections Barack Obama Iraq Iraq War Middle East War Room