Woodward Claim Disputed by Pentagon

FNC Pentagon correspondents Bret Baier and Ian McCaleb have been following up assertions made in Bob Woodward's new book "Plan of Attack."  Woodward says that funds not authorized by Congress for use against Iraq were in fact used to help plan an attack.  Here's what Bret and Ian found.

There has been a fair amount of confusion here through the day on one of the more serious contentions made in Bob Woodward's new book — the allegation, detailed in Sunday's Washington Post, that the president authorized shifting some $700 million from terror war supplementals passed in 2001 and 2002 to be used for the Iraq war.

In his book, Woodward argues that such a move would have been illegal, and he's right. Had that happened, it would have violated the budgetary authority granted the administration by the Congress in those two bills, which were drafted post-Sept. 11 to support efforts in Afghanistan under Operation Noble Eagle, Operation Enduring Freedom and the like, and to bolster domestic security.

But apparently, according to numbers produced this evening by a senior budget official here at the Pentagon, that isn't what happened. It is not clear who Woodward's source is, but the source's information would appear to be incomplete.

This budget official said tonight that CENTCOM approached DoD brass in July of 2002 with a request for $750 million to be applied to "contingency planning" for possible Iraq operations. Senior Pentagon officials were adamant tonight that this sort of contingency planning is commonplace, and did not in any way mean that, at that time, any decisions had been made to proceed with action against the Hussein regime.

But CENTCOM still told budget officials here that it was going to need money just to proceed with its contingency processes, and once that request was made in July, officials here combed over the two supplementals line-by-line ($17 billion was authorized in 2001, $14.2 billion in 2002), and determined which of CENTCOM's request fit under the broad "war on terror" umbrella, rather than anything directly related to Iraq.

They came up with some $178 million in projects including communications improvements, spare parts, fuel, and improvements to forward HQ in Qatar.

"These were consistent with the anti-terror authority granted in those two bills," the senior budget official said tonight, adding that no funding was made available specifically for the purpose of funding the Iraq contingency.

Later, an additional $63 million was made available for military construction projects in CENTCOM's area of operation that also fell under the authority. There were five such projects, though they have not been disclosed.

It was only after Congress passed its Iraq resolution in October of 2003 that funding started to flow for Iraq contingencies. On Oct 25, 2003, some $800 million was made available to support Iraq planning. It is not clear if any of those funds were drawn from either of the supplementals. Rather, budget officials are looking into how much of the $800 million was "cash-flowed" from the services. We have been promised more clarification on the sources of this money.