The book backs up previous accounts of Bush’s determination to make war plans against Iraq immediately after 9/11. According to Woodward, who interviewed more than 75 key officials including Bush, the initial probing towards war with Iraq began in November 2001, when the president met urgently with Defense Secretary Rumsfeld and said, “…let's get started on this.” The next month, the president had General Tommy Franks draw up a hypothetical battle plan. And so the die was cast.
Bush’s war plans intensified during 2002, when the administration’s neocon “cabal” set up the Office of Special Plans to produce “intelligence” on Iraq’s alleged WMD program. The cabal was apparently guided by Vice President Dick Cheney and run by his chief aide, I. Lewis "Scooter" Libby, Deputy Defense Secretary Paul Wolfowitz and Undersecretary of Defense for Policy Doug Feith.
According to Woodward’s book, Colin Powell- barely on speaking terms with Cheney these days- protested that the vice president had through the OSP set up a parallel government to push the warmongering of the administration’s neoconservatives.
The president’s personal dedication to war had dramatically increased by early 2003:
“‘…we're not winning. Time is not on our side here. Probably going to have to, we're going to have to go to war,’ the book quotes Bush as telling national security adviser Condoleezza Rice in early January 2003.”
Rice’s significance as one of the key antagonists for war emerges in Plan of Attack. Although the position of national security advisor is one of the most important in any administration, Rice’s role was heightened by the president’s awareness that Vice President Dick Cheney and Secretary of State Colin Powell had irreconcilably opposing views on Iraq. Perceiving Rice to be more independent, Bush placed great faith in her opinion which was, unfortunately for peace, pro-neocon.