Tonight, I now have a clue about what he might have meant.
Bod Woodward gave a lecture at a local university a few months ago, that I attended with some like-minded friends. We were all very excited to see and hear Woodward discuss the lengthy interviewing process he went through in his research for his books and were hoping that he would give some new tidbits that would be newsworthy. The schedule was for him to discuss his book, "Plan of Attack." He has always had the status of a 'rock star' for me since 'Woodward and Bernstein' days, yet had seemed in recent years to have sold out to the establishment, until his most recent books.
To join me at the lecture, continue below the fold....
The university had arranged a shuttle bus system from a garage and when I arrived at the garage, I parked my car and was hurrying to the bus, intending to meet my friends. There was just one other car that had parked in my area and a clean-cut, non-descript man in his 30's got out, dressed in slacks and a tan windbreaker and walked with his head averted and down. As I was hurrying along, I glanced up at him and continued on my way.
Memories came flooding back to my mind, chilling me. Memories of the 60's. Memories of going to protest marches/speeches and playing a 'game' with friends to try to pick out the secret service agents, who stuck out like a sore thumb with their short hair and brand new sneakers. We looked at the feet first. (I can remember some times going up to them and taunting them...what can I say, we were young and the times were tough! We were fighting about life and death.)
But this is 2007, I told myself and when I joined my friends in the hall, turned my attention to the center dias and the huge projection screen behind. Soon, Bob Woodward came out and everyone went hush. The lights dimmed and the spotlight went on.
Surprisingly, instead of starting his talk, he said into the microphone: "Would someone please turn the lights on?" He said that several times in his very authoritative voice and he repeated, "I like to look at who is in the audience." He made it clear that he would not continue unless the lights were turned on. This was a very liberal group, so I doubted anyone would be throwing tomatoes at him, yet in the pause while they figured out how to turn the lights on, I felt the chill return. And he did take some time to carefully look around the group.
Then he settled in and gave only about a 20 minute presentation; nothing we didn't already know and gave some pat answers to a small Q&A. And before I knew it he was closing. I was very disappointed. We had gone to a lot of trouble to get here and I was let down.
But then he said it. Crisply. His closing comments. Words to the effect: 'The main thing I am here to tell you tonight is to beware of the Secret Government.' 'Beware of the Secret Government.' Repeating it, he was gone.
On my drive home, there were four impressions I had of the evening, which were somehow strung together in my mind. The first was seeing the nondescript man get out of his car who reminded me of the 60's Secret Service; the second was Woodward's insistence on seeing and then searching through the audience and then his final words of "Beware of the Secret Government," really his only non-pat communication to the audience. These three impressions had produced a fourth; a gnawing sense of concern for his welfare as I realized the enormity of risk that he was bearing on his shoulders, getting so close to such unbridled power and then exposing them in his last book. I began to fear for his safety.
Yeah, I would want the lights turned on, too.
Funny that the WaPo is doing the series exposing Cheney.
(Update: To read more re. Woodward's warning against "Secret Government" see:
his Bucknell commencement speech; link thanks to MagisterLudi)