Woodward book: Obama says U.S. could ‘absorb’ terrorist attack

by Derrick Johnson on September 23, 2010

"Obama's Wars," a book set for release next Monday from Bob Woodward, has many people angered because of a quote attributed to President Barack Obama in which he says the country could "absorb" another attack from terrorists.

As he has with the past two U.S. Presidents, Woodward, a Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist, offers insight into the inner workings of the presidency. In "Wars," he looks at the Obama administration and notes that those at the top levels of the the administration were at odds on how to handle the war in Afghanistan.

The book also contains a quote from Obama which has many conservatives questioning the president's ability to handle the war. Talk radio and the right-wing blogosphere has clung to a quote on page 363 of the book in which the president says the U.S. could "absorb a terrorist attack."

Read in context, it seems Obama is saying the nation would not buckle under any adversity.

"We will do everything we can to prevent it. But even a 9/11, even the biggest attack ever, that ever took place on our soil, we absorbed it, and we are stronger," Obama is quoted as saying in the book. "This is a strong, powerful country that we live in, and our people are incredibly resilient."

In addition, the book says top aides in the Obama administration fought about how to handle the Afghanistan war, a claim Defense Secretary Robert Gates strongly denounced on Thursday.

According to the Associated Press, Gates told reporters that "conflict sells," and said that he had no apprehension about the administrations strategy in Afghanistan.

Still, Obama's detractors say his comments in the book should be addressed. Liz Cheney, daughter of former Vice President Dick Cheney, released a statement calling for the president to clarify his statement.

"This comment suggests an alarming fatalism on the part of President Obama and his administration," Cheney said in a statement. "Once again the president seems either unwilling or unable to do what it takes to keep this nation safe. The president owes the American people an explanation."

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