This account by Thomas DeFrank of the New York Daily News casts doubt on Woodward’s version of what Gerald Ford said about Iraq. DeFrank met frequently with Ford, and did so for the last time in May of this year. On that occasion, Ford said he’d told Bush he supported the war in Iraq but that Bush had erred by staking the invasion on weapons of mass destruction. According to DeFrank, Ford explained:
Saddam Hussein was an evil person and there was justification to get rid of him, but we shouldn’t have put the basis on weapons of mass destruction. That was a bad mistake. Where does [Bush] get his advice?
Woodward’s account also focuses on Ford’s view of what the best justification for the war was. But Woodward goes further to report that Ford told him he doesn’t think he would have gone to war. That statement may not be 100 percent inconistent with Ford telling DeFrank that he supports the war (now that we’re there) and that there was justification to get rid of Saddam. But as Jonah Goldberg says, at a minimum DeFrank’s account seems more nuanced than Woodward’s version.
In the end, I don’t think we really need to parse Ford’s words as relayed by others. It’s simply not important or even terribly interesting to know what Ford, at the end of his life, says he would have done about Iraq.