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Rove-elations: Former Bush Adviser Opens Up About Katrina, WMDs, Obama

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President Bush looks out the window of Air Force One inspecting damage from Hurricane Katrina while flying over New Orleans en route back to the White House. (AP)

President Obama thinks Karl Rove "hates" him; President Bush should have declared a "federal takeover" in New Orleans after Hurricane Katrina; and the Iraq war never would have happened without those pesky WMDs -- which were never found. 

Those are just some of the "Rove-elations" Republican strategist and longtime Democratic antagonist Karl Rove provides in his new book, "Courage and Consequence."

Rove writes that the Bush administration mishandled several aspects of the response to Katrina, including allowing the president to survey the devastation from Air Force One. Rove says it was a mistake to allow Bush to fly over the storm-ravaged area, which resulted in a photograph of Bush that critics said showed him as aloof in his  response.

"We shouldn't have dropped into New Orleans, because it would have been disruptive, but we should have gone to Baton Rouge, the site of Louisiana's disaster command center. I'm one of the people responsible for this mistake," Rove wrote. "Our decision was right for the relief effort but wrong for President Bush's public standing."

Rove, now a Fox News contributor, also hammers Obama as "loose with the facts," defends the Bush administration from a number of Democratic criticisms and acknowledges that the war in Iraq probably never would have happened without the "threat" of weapons of mass destruction. Here's more: 

-- Rove writes that in the aftermath of Katrina, the administration was hindered by infighting and ineptitude on the local level. He says Bush should have ordered a "federal takeover" in response. 

"Behind the scenes, the White House staff engaged in a complicated, high-stakes legal and constitutional battle with Louisiana's governor -- which had huge ramifications for New Orleans and the administration. As events unfolded, it became clear that Ray Nagin was no Rudy Giuliani and Kathleen Blanco was no Haley Barbour ... their respective staffs were extremely critical of each other, which made cooperation even more problematic." 

He continues: "Our biggest mistake was that we did not seize control of the situation in Louisiana sooner. As the Air Force One meeting showed, Nagin and Blanco couldn't even agree on who was responsible for public safety in New Orleans. The president should have ordered a federal takeover and taken the heat for pushing Louisiana officials aside." 

-- As the Sept. 11 attacks were being carried out, Rove says Bush gave authorization for the military to shoot down any more hijacked planes in the event that they "could not be controlled." Rove writes that Vice President Cheney posed the question to Bush. 

"Almost immediately after we were airborne, Vice President Cheney phoned with a tough decision for Bush to make. The Air Force had scrambled to put up a combat jet patrol over Washington but needed rules of engagement," Rove writes. "What should happen if another plane were hijacked and could not be controlled? Could it be shot down? The president uttered a forceful 'Yes.' Cheney asked again and Bush said, 'You have my authorization.'"

-- Rove admits that weapons of mass destruction were the linchpin of the Iraq war, even though they were never found. 

"Would the Iraq War have occurred without WMD? I doubt it: Congress was very unlikely to have supported the use-of-force resolution without the threat of WMD." 

But he says the administration was convinced about the weapons' existence, and so it did not knowingly lead the nation into war on false pretenses. 

"So, then did Bush lie us into war? Absolutely not," he writes. 

-- Rove claims the Bush administration did not act forcefully enough in rebutting Democrats' claims about the president's approach to the Iraq war. 

"When the pattern of the Democratic attacks became apparent in July 2003, we should have countered in a forceful and overwhelming way. The assault was worthy of significant attention by the entire White House, including a rebuttal delivered in a presidential address. We should have seen this for what it was: a poison-tipped dagger aimed at the heart of the Bush presidency," Rove writes. "By not engaging, we let more of the public come to believe dangerous falsehoods about the war: that Bush lied, that Saddam Hussein never had and never wanted WMD, that we claimed Iraq had been behind 9/11. These attacked undermined support for the war and public confidence in the president. So who was responsible for the failure to respond? I was. I should have stepped forward, rung the warning bell, and pressed for full-scale response. I didn't." 

-- Rove disputes an accusation from Obama's memoir "The Audacity of Hope" that Rove and fellow conservatives Newt Gingrich and Grover Norquist once declared, "We are a Christian nation." 

"I certainly don't believe and have never said, 'We are a Christian nation,'" Rove insists in "Courage." "What happened to the Jews? The Muslims? The Hindus? The Buddhists? The skeptics and nonbelievers?" 

Rove says he confronted Obama, then the junior senator from Illinois, about the quotation during a chance encounter in the White House cafeteria. According to Rove, Obama initially denied attributing the quote to Rove, who then showed Obama the page in question. 

"He looked surprised and began insisting he really wasn't saying what he had quoted me as saying," Rove writes. "After a few moments, the conversation drew to an awkward and unsatisfactory conclusion; he was unwilling to acknowledge the mistake or apologize. It seemed to me he didn't much care that he had attributed to me something I had never said and found offensive." 

-- Rove writes that Obama once confided via an e-mail to adviser Valerie Jarrett, "Rove hates me." Rove claims the sentiment was rooted in their "run-in" over Obama's book.