Bush attacked on Iraq by former press secretary
May 29, 2008 by babs22
Bush administration has been accused of carrying out a “political propaganda campaign”
in order to make the case for the Iraq war, by Scott McClellan (photo)
, the former White House press secretary.
In a book detailing his time there, Mr McClellan wrote that the Bush White House made “a decision to turn away from candour and honesty when those qualities were most needed”.
The White House answered that it was “puzzled” at McClellan’s accusations, adding “this is not the Scott we knew”.
It is the first time a former member of George Bush’s inner circle has unleashed such damning criticism of his administration.
On Wednesday, US newspapers published excerpts of McClellan’s book, What Happened: Inside the Bush White House and Washington’s Culture of Deception.
In the book, Mr McClellan says that the way Bush used the Iraq issue “almost guaranteed that the use of force would become the only feasible option”.
He accuses the US president of letting political concerns influence decisions made by his administration.
“In the permanent campaign era, it was all about manipulating sources of public opinion to the president’s advantage” he says.
‘Repeat a lie’
But McClellan was also critical about the way the White House responded to Katrina, and the early “state of denial” about the devastation from the Hurricane.
Scott McClellan started working for George W. Bush when he was the governor of Texas.
From January 2001 to July 2003, he served has chief White House deputy press secretary, and became the president’s lead spokesman.
In April 2006, he resigned or was pushed out. After a scandal over the leaking of information that Iraq war critic Joseph Wilson’s wife, Valerie Plame wilson, was a CIA agent, Scott McClellan’s credibility was damaged.
Mr McClellan accuses Karl Rove, former senior White House political strategist, and Lewis “Scooter”
Libby, once a senior aide to Dick Cheney (photo)
, the US vice-president, of misleading him into publicly denying they played any role in the revelation.
Bush was also deceived, “but the top White House officials who knew the truth – including Rove, Libby, and possibly vice-president Cheney – allowed me, even encouraged me, to repeat a lie”, says McClellan.
But to Brad Blakeman, who worked by the side of Mr McClellan as a deputy assistant to president Bush between 2001 and 2004, the former press secretary had violated the trust of the US president and the office for which he had worked, and was making allegations for money.
“Why so far after he left office is he complaining about things in his book when he was serving the president” he said.
But Scott McClellan has another explanation. He says he didn’t object to the selling of the war in Iraq at the time because he, like other Americans, gave the president the benefit of the doubt.
“My beliefs were different then. I believed the president when he talked about he grave and gathering danger from Iraq” he told NBC’s “Today” show.
Even though he has come to believe the war was a mistake, Mr McClellan said he still doesn’t think the president lied in order to oversell the threat from Iraq. “He came to convince himself of that” McClellan said of Bush.
“If he saw these things going on and he believes [it] so strongly he should have left at that time and told the American public his grievances at that time, not now”.
“What Scott is saying is that the president used his position to sell a war that was unjustified and I reject that.”
In a statement, Dana Perino (photo), Bush’s current press secretary, rejected the book’s claims.
“Scott, we now know, is disgruntled about his experience at the White House” she said.
“For those of us who fully supported him, before, during and after he was press secretary, we are puzzled. It is sad – this is not the Scott we knew.”
Scott McClellan’s conclusion is that the Iraq war “was not necessary”. He also says that he was sincere the whole time, even though some of his own words on behalf of the White House turned out to be “badly misguided”.
“I fell far short of living up to the kind of public servant I wanted to be” McClellan writes.
Scott McClellan’s book is due to be published on June 1.