Woodward kicks off defense lawyers’ meeting

The folks at DRI – The Voice of The Defense Bar turned to a big name to open its annual meeting here in Washington this morning: Watergate investigative reporter, author, and managing editor of the The Washington Post Bob Woodward.

Woodward seemed at home surrounded by the thousands of attorneys who listened to him give the event’s opening address. He is, after all, the son of an appellate judge, and as such, is full of lawyer jokes.

“Lawyers always have the most meaningful and profound things to say,” Woodward said, “unless you listen carefully.” Chuckles all around.

But he spent most of his time talking about President George W. Bush and the war in Iraq. Woodard is currently working on the fourth installment of a series of books examining the president and the war.

Woodward said his reporting uncovered broad evidence of the administration’s lack of consideration of the consequences of war. But he also said despite it all, he believes the president genuinely thought – and still thinks – that invading Iraq was the right thing to do.

“I think he still believes (weapons of mass destruction) were there, and at some point they were shipped off somewhere – to Syria or Iran,” Woodward told the crowd.

He said Bush was driven in part by a sense of idealism, adding that during one of several hours-long interviews, the president told him: “I believe we have a duty to free and liberate people.”

“That idealism accounts in large part for his unwillingness to change course,” Woodward said. “This is how he thinks – the fact that there is resistance to what he is doing convinces him of the need to persist.”

The annual meeting of DRI, a national organization of defense trial lawyers and corporate counsel, lasts through Saturday.

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