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Award-Winning Reporter Bob Woodward Addresses Main Street Insurance Agents During 2011 PIA Federal Legislative Summit

WASHINGTON, April 6, 2011 - Members of the National Association of Professional Insurance Agents (PIA) who were about to embark on a day...
April 6, 2011

Journalist Says Democracies Die When There's No Accountability

WASHINGTON, April 6, 2011  - Members of the National Association of Professional Insurance Agents (PIA) who were about to embark on a day of visits March 31 with their members of Congress got an inside look at the ways of Washington from an award-winning journalist and author who has spent four decades reporting on the major events and power players at the highest levels of politics in Washington, D.C.

Bob Woodward told the insurance agents that in order for our system of government to work, accountability is needed.

"We do need to know," said Woodward. "And it's not that every citizen needs to know every detail, the issue is that members of Congress and the president represent the citizens, and we have a system of accountability. If you ask me what's the biggest thing we should worry about in this country, it is secret government. That's what will do us in."

"Whoever said it got it right: democracies die in darkness," Woodward said. "Democracies die when there's no accountability, when a group of people get together and say 'we've got the ball' and there are no referees out there, there are no voters, there's no openness, there's no disclosure. That's what Nixon tried; [there was] too much secrecy in the Clinton administration, in the Bush administration, in the Obama administration, unnecessary secrecy." He added that some intelligence sources and methods, and military operations need to be secret.

Woodward has worked for The Washington Post since 1971. He has won nearly every American journalism award, and the Post won the 1973 Pulitzer Prize for his investigative reporting with Carl Bernstein on the Watergate scandal. In addition, Woodward was the main reporter for the Post's articles on the aftermath of the September 11 terrorist attacks that won the National Affairs Pulitzer Prize in 2002.

Woodward has co-authored or authored twelve #1 national best-selling non-fiction books - more than any contemporary American writer. His books have chronicled the inner workings of seven presidencies, the CIA and the Supreme Court. In All the President's Men (1974) and The Final Days (1976), co-authored with Carl Bernstein, Woodward tells the real story of Watergate and the many crimes and abuses of power in the Nixon Administration that led to the impeachment of Richard M. Nixon and his subsequent resignation in disgrace.

The veteran reporter said he almost called his most recent best-seller, Obama's Wars, "The Divided Man," because he said President Obama is of two minds on the subject of war. "He does not like war, and when I interviewed him he made that crystal clear," Woodward said, adding he thinks Obama's abhorrence of war co-exists in his mind with his responsibility as commander-in-chief to lead.

"This is the analysis the White House hates, but it's so true," Woodward added. "What's going on here politically? What's on Obama's mind? 2012. Political survival. Being re-elected." He said the way Obama has engaged in the war in Libya is by taking a crusading moral stance, but at the same time limiting it. "I call it the 'Obama inoculation,'" adopting a traditional Republican stance and by so doing, inoculating himself in the foreign policy area.

Woodward was asked by PIA National Executive Vice President & CEO Leonard C. Brevik to assess the current mood of Congress and provide a primer for the Main Street insurance agents who were heading to Capitol Hill that morning.

"I always find the most effective technique is straight talk," he advised. "You've got to tell it like you see it. You have to know about who they are, where they come from, how long they've been in office - don't just Google who they are, but go in-depth, put it in context and show that you take them as seriously as they take themselves."

Founded in 1931, PIA is a national trade association that represents member insurance agents and their employees who sell and service all kinds of insurance, but specialize in coverage of automobiles, homes and businesses. PIA members are Local Agents Serving Main Street America SM. PIA's web address is


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