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Top Investigative Reporter: US Spies on Iraqi PM

A top U.S. investigative reporter says the Bush administration has extensively spied on Iraqi officials, including Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki.

The Washington Post
Friday previewed a book by its associate editor, Bob Woodward, in which one source is quoted as saying about Mr. Maliki, "we know everything he says."

Woodward's book, called "The War Within: A Secret White House History," is based on interviews with intelligence, diplomatic and military sources, as well as two on-the-record interviews with U.S. President George Bush. It is set for release Monday.

The White House declined to comment specifically on the charge of spying. An Iraqi government spokesman said if true, "it reflects that there is no trust," adding Baghdad will be asking Washington for an explanation.

According to the Post, Woodward also says that last year's troop surge in Iraq was not the primary factor behind the steep drop in violence there. Instead, Woodward points to what he calls "groundbreaking" covert programs to track and kill insurgent leaders.

The book also gives credit for the drop in violence to Shi'ite cleric Moqtada al-Sadr's moves to rein in his powerful Mahdi army, and to the Sunni groups that turned against al-Qaida in Iraq.

Woodward writes of an administration sharply divided about the course of the war, and he portrays Mr. Bush as sometimes disconnected from it. When asked how the White House decided on sending five brigades to Iraq for the surge, rather than the military's suggestion of two, Mr. Bush is quoted as saying "Okay, I don't know this. I'm not in these meetings, you'll be happy to hear, because I got other things to do."

The Post says that during the interviews with Woodward, the president spoke of the war as part of a re-centering of American power in the Middle East, which he justified by saying that was the place from which "a deadly attack emanated."

"The War Within" is Woodward's fourth book on the Bush administration and Iraq. Woodward is best known for his work, along with Carl Bernstein, uncovering the Watergate scandal that ultimately led to the resignation of former President Richard Nixon.