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June 5th, 2012
11:07 AM ET

An inside look at the Obama Administration's handling of the war on terror – author Daniel Klaidman on 'tension' in the White House

Daniel Klaidman's new book "Kill or Capture: The War on Terror and the Soul of the Obama Presidency" reads more like a page-turning drama than a documentation of the time inside the White House.

The book looks at how the Obama Administration has handled the war on terror, and shares one story of a screaming match between Presidential adviser David Axelrod and Attorney General Eric Holder, at one point coming face to face after a cabinet meeting back in 2009.

Author Daniel Klaidman writes that Axelrod says, "'Don't ever, ever accuse me of trying to interfere with the operations of the Justice Department.' Axelrod warned Holder after confronting him in the hallway. 'I'm not Karl Rove.' The two men stood chest to chest. It was like a schoolyard fight."

White House staffers caught in the crossfire allegedly averted their eyes. According to the book, senior advisor Valerie Jarrett squeezed between them, broke it up and everyone back to their offices.

Klaidman tells Soledad on "Starting Point" that the administration had a hard time working between fulfilling campaign promises and committing to ongoing initiatives.

"What was going on is in mid-2009, early 2009 really, the White House was obviously preoccupied with the economy," Klaidman says. "We were still deep in recession. They were trying to push health care. Meanwhile, the Attorney General is doing his job. He's trying to fulfill the President's promises on some of these hot button counterterrorism issues. And so, there is an inevitable clash here."

"I was surprised how personal it got, the level of tension and animosity," Klaidman adds. "But in some ways, you know, there may be something healthy about battling it out."

See another clip from the interview below.


Filed under: Obama administration • War on terror