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Thread: McClellan Whacks Bush, White House

  1. #1
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    Jan 2005

    McClellan Whacks Bush, White House

    McClellan whacks Bush, White House
    McClellan says the administration relied on "propaganda" to sell the war.

    By MIKE ALLEN | 5/27/08 6:18 PM EST

    Former White House Press Secretary Scott McClellan writes in a surprisingly scathing memoir to be published next week that President Bush “veered terribly off course,” was not “open and forthright on Iraq,” and took a “permanent campaign approach” to governing at the expense of candor and competence.

    Among the most explosive revelations in the 341-page book, titled “What Happened: Inside the Bush White House and Washington’s Culture of Deception” (Public Affairs, $27.95):
    • McClellan charges that Bush relied on “propaganda” to sell the war.
    • He says the White House press corps was too easy on the administration during the run-up to the war.
    • He admits that some of his own assertions from the briefing room podium turned out to be “badly misguided.”
    • The longtime Bush loyalist also suggests that two top aides held a secret West Wing meeting to get their story straight about the CIA leak case at a time when federal prosecutors were after them — and McClellan was continuing to defend them despite mounting evidence they had not given him all the facts.
    • McClellan asserts that the aides — Karl Rove, the president’s senior adviser, and I. Lewis “Scooter” Libby, the vice president’s chief of staff — “had at best misled” him about their role in the disclosure of former CIA operative Valerie Plame’s identity.

    A few reporters were offered advance copies of the book, with the restriction that their stories not appear until Sunday, the day before the official publication date. Politico declined and purchased “What Happened” at a Washington bookstore.

    The eagerly awaited book, while recounting many fond memories of Bush and describing him as “authentic” and “sincere,” is harsher than reporters and White House officials had expected.

    McClellan was one of the president’s earliest and most loyal political aides, and most of his friends had expected him to take a few swipes at his former colleague in order to sell books but also to paint a largely affectionate portrait.

    Instead, McClellan’s tone is often harsh. He writes, for example, that after Hurricane Katrina, the White House “spent most of the first week in a state of denial,” and he blames Rove for suggesting the photo of the president comfortably observing the disaster during an Air Force One flyover. McClellan says he and counselor to the president Dan Bartlett had opposed the idea and thought it had been scrapped.

    But he writes that he later was told that “Karl was convinced we needed to do it — and the president agreed.”

    “One of the worst disasters in our nation’s history became one of the biggest disasters in Bush’s presidency. Katrina and the botched federal response to it would largely come to define Bush’s second term,” he writes. “And the perception of this catastrophe was made worse by previous decisions President Bush had made, including, first and foremost, the failure to be open and forthright on Iraq and rushing to war with inadequate planning and preparation for its aftermath.”

    McClellan, who turned 40 in February, was press secretary from July 2003 to April 2006. An Austin native from a political family, he began working as a gubernatorial spokesman for then-Gov. Bush in early 1999, was traveling press secretary for the Bush-Cheney 2000 campaign and was chief deputy to Press Secretary Ari Fleischer at the beginning of Bush’s first term.

    “I still like and admire President Bush,” McClellan writes. “But he and his advisers confused the propaganda campaign with the high level of candor and honesty so fundamentally needed to build and then sustain public support during a time of war. … In this regard, he was terribly ill-served by his top advisers, especially those involved directly in national security.”

    In a small sign of how thoroughly McClellan has adopted the outsider’s role, he refers at times to his former boss as “Bush,” when he is universally referred to by insiders as “the president.”

    McClellan lost some of his friends in the administration last November when his publisher released an excerpt from the book that appeared to accuse Bush of participating in the cover-up of the Plame leak. The book, however, makes clear that McClellan believes Bush was also a victim of misinformation.

    The book begins with McClellan’s statement to the press that he had talked with Rove and Libby and that they had assured him they “were not involved in … the leaking of classified information.”

    At Libby’s trial, testimony showed the two had talked with reporters about the officer, however elliptically.

    “I had allowed myself to be deceived into unknowingly passing along a falsehood,” McClellan writes. “It would ultimately prove fatal to my ability to serve the president effectively. I didn’t learn that what I’d said was untrue until the media began to figure it out almost two years later.

    “Neither, I believe, did President Bush. He, too, had been deceived and therefore became unwittingly involved in deceiving me. 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.”

    McClellan also suggests that Libby and Rove secretly colluded to get their stories straight at a time when federal investigators were hot on the Plame case.

    “There is only one moment during the leak episode that I am reluctant to discuss,” he writes. “It was in 2005, during a time when attention was focusing on Rove and Libby, and it sticks vividly in my mind. … Following [a meeting in Chief of Staff Andy Card’s office], … Scooter Libby was walking to the entryway as he prepared to depart when Karl turned to get his attention. ‘You have time to visit?’ Karl asked. ‘Yeah,’ replied Libby.

    “I have no idea what they discussed, but it seemed suspicious for these two, whom I had never noticed spending any one-on-one time together, to go behind closed doors and visit privately. … At least one of them, Rove, it was publicly known at the time, had at best misled me by not sharing relevant information, and credible rumors were spreading that the other, Libby, had done at least as much. …

    “The confidential meeting also occurred at a moment when I was being battered by the press for publicly vouching for the two by claiming they were not involved in leaking Plame’s identity, when recently revealed information was now indicating otherwise. … I don’t know what they discussed, but what would any knowledgeable person reasonably and logically conclude was the topic? Like the whole truth of people’s involvement, we will likely never know with any degree of confidence.”

    McClellan repeatedly embraces the rhetoric of Bush's liberal critics and even charges: “If anything, the national press corps was probably too deferential to the White House and to the administration in regard to the most important decision facing the nation during my years in Washington, the choice over whether to go to war in Iraq.

    “The collapse of the administration’s rationales for war, which became apparent months after our invasion, should never have come as such a surprise. … In this case, the ‘liberal media’ didn’t live up to its reputation. If it had, the country would have been better served.”

    Decrying the Bush administration’s “excessive embrace of the permanent campaign approach to governance,” McClellan recommends that future presidents appoint a “deputy chief of staff for governing” who “would be responsible for making sure the president is continually and consistently committed to a high level of openness and forthrightness and transcending partisanship to achieve unity.

    “I frequently stumbled along the way,” McClellan acknowledges in the book’s preface. “My own story, however, is of small importance in the broad historical picture. More significant is the larger story in which I played a minor role: the story of how the presidency of George W. Bush veered terribly off course.”

    Even some of the chapter titles are brutal: “The Permanent Campaign,” “Deniability,” “Triumph and Illusion,” “Revelation and Humiliation” and “Out of Touch.”

    “I think the concern about liberal bias helps to explain the tendency of the Bush team to build walls against the media,” McClellan writes in a chapter in which he says he dealt “happily enough” with liberal reporters. “Unfortunately, the press secretary at times found himself outside those walls as well.”

    The book’s center has eight slick pages with 19 photos, eight of them depicting McClellan with the president. Those making cameos include Cheney, Rove, Bartlett, Mark Knoller of CBS News, former Assistant Press Secretary Reed Dickens and, aboard Air Force One, former press office official Peter Watkins and former White House stenographer Greg North.

    In the acknowledgments, McClellan thanks each member of his former staff by name.

    Among other notable passages:
    • Steve Hadley, then the deputy national security adviser, said about the erroneous assertion about Saddam Hussein seeking uranium, included in the State of the Union address of 2003: “Signing off on these facts is my responsibility. … And in this case, I blew it. I think the only solution is for me to resign.” The offer “was rejected almost out of hand by others present,” McClellan writes.
    • Bush was “clearly irritated, … steamed,” when McClellan informed him that chief economic adviser Larry Lindsey had told The Wall Street Journal that a possible war in Iraq could cost from $100 billion to $200 billion: “‘It’s unacceptable,’ Bush continued, his voice rising. ‘He shouldn’t be talking about that.’”
    • “As press secretary, I spent countless hours defending the administration from the podium in the White House briefing room. Although the things I said then were sincere, I have since come to realize that some of them were badly misguided.”
    • “History appears poised to confirm what most Americans today have decided: that the decision to invade Iraq was a serious strategic blunder. No one, including me, can know with absolute certainty how the war will be viewed decades from now when we can more fully understand its impact. What I do know is that war should only be waged when necessary, and the Iraq war was not necessary.”
    • McClellan describes his preparation for briefing reporters during the Plame frenzy: “I could feel the adrenaline flowing as I gave the go-ahead for Josh Deckard, one of my hard-working, underpaid press office staff, … to give the two-minute warning so the networks could prepare to switch to live coverage the moment I stepped into the briefing room.”
    • “‘Matrix’ was the code name the Secret Service used for the White House press secretary."

    McClellan is on the lecture circuit and remains in the Washington area with his wife, Jill.
    No One Knows Everything. Only Together May We Find The Truth JG

  2. #2
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    Jan 2005
    Conyers mulls hearings over McClellan revelations

    Nick Juliano
    Published: Friday May 30, 2008

    (Updates at bottom: McClellan tells CNN he'd 'be happy' to testify; Perino suggests White House could block)

    Lawyers working for the House Judiciary Committee are meeting with former White House spokesman Scott McClellan regarding the explosive revelations contained in his new tell-all memoir, and the committee's chairman says he may renew hearings on the administration's leak of a CIA officer's identity now that new details have been published.

    Rep. John Conyers (D-MI) said he was bothered by the accounts in What Happened: Inside the Bush White House and Washington's Culture of Deception, McClellan's just-published memoir.

    "I find Mr. McClellan's revelations about attempts to cover-up the Valerie Plame leak extremely troubling," the Judiciary chairman said in a statement released Friday. "Particularly disturbing is McClellan's assertion that he was specifically directed by Andy Card to 'vouch' for Scooter Libby after the investigation had begun, which, if true, could amount to obstruction of justice beyond that for which Mr. Libby has already been convicted.

    "I believe this issue may require closer examination so I have instructed my counsels to begin discussions with Mr. McClellan to determine whether a hearing is necessary and to secure his possible cooperation."

    Judiciary Committee member Rep. Robert Wexler (D-FL) already has called for McClellan to testify under oath about his book.

    In the book, McClellan suggests that vice presidential aide I. Lewis "Scooter" Libby and former Bush confidant Karl Rove may have privately discussed their involvement in the Plame scandal as the Justice Department was beginning its investigation. Both men released information about the former covert agent to reporters in attempt to discredit her husband, former Ambassador Joe Wilson, who was criticizing the White House's faulty intelligence about Iraq's weapons programs.

    Libby was convicted of perjury and obstruction of justice before President Bush commuted his sentence. Rove avoided any official sanctions for his involvement in the leak. After resigning his White House post, he's gone on to be a commentator for Fox News, columnist for Newsweek and freelance political operative.

    McClellan says he'd 'be happy' to testify
    "Former White House Press Secretary Scott McClellan said Friday he would be willing to comply with a possible congressional subpoena to discuss the administration’s handling of pre-war intelligence, telling CNN’s Wolf Blitzer he’d be 'happy to talk if I am asked to testify,'" CNN's Political Ticker blog reports.

    Earlier today at the afternoon press briefing, Press Secretary Dana Perino was asked, "Could the White House block him from testifying, if he wanted to testify?"

    "Conceivably?" Perino asked.

    "Yes," the reporter said.

    "Hypothetically, which I’m not supposed to answer a hypothetical, yes, I think so," Perino said. "The law would allow for that. But by saying that, I’m not suggesting that that’s what would happen or not happen."

    Think Progress observes, "It’s not clear on what grounds the White House would be able to block a Washington Post chat today, McClellan confirmed that White House officials reviewed his 'final manuscript for classification and privilege issues,' and they found 'no issues relating to classified information.' They did, however, 'bring up some issues' relating to executive privilege."

    If discussions on barring McClellan are raised in the White House, Perino should be able to provide details to the press at future briefings.

    Ed Gillespie, a White House counselor and one of Bush's closest advisers, tells the Associated Press that Perino is "at the table on everything that's done here."

    That means Oval Office access as well as participation in top-level meetings to debate and make decisions about policy, planning, legislative strategy and other matters, the AP reports.

    "I don't want for attendance or invitations," Perino told the AP. "And on the rare occasions I have not been `on a list,' I've been able to appeal."
    No One Knows Everything. Only Together May We Find The Truth JG

  3. #3
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    Jan 2005
    White House doesn't deny McClellan's Bush-to-Libby leak allegation

    Eric Brewer
    Published: Friday May 30, 2008

    In Scott McClellan's recent statements to the press regarding his apostasy, he says that one of the things that pushed him over the edge was the revelation on April 6, 2006, that President Bush had secretly authorized the selective release to reporters of classified information, something that both the president and his then-spokesman McClellan had been vigorously condemning in their public statements about the Valerie Plame leak case.

    "I walk onto Air Force One and a reporter had yelled a question to the president trying to ask him a question about this revelation that had come out during the [Libby] legal proceedings," McClellan told the Today Show's Meredith Viera on Thursday morning. "The revelation was that it was the president who had authorized, or enabled, Scooter Libby to go out there and talk about this information. And I told the president that that's what the reporter was asking. He was saying that you, yourself, were the one that authorized the leaking of this information. And he said, 'Yeah, I did.' And I was kinda taken aback."

    So "taken aback" evidently that he announced his resignation thirteen days later.

    At Friday's morning gaggle in the White House briefing room I asked Press Secretary Dana Perino whether McClellan's claim about what Bush said to him on Air Force One was true. The classified information McClellan was talking about was the National Intelligence Estimate (NIE) on Iraq, portions of which were leaked to reporters in the summer of 2003 as part of the Bush administration's counter-attack on Joe Wilson, who had accused the White House of using twisted intelligence to support the invasion of Iraq.

    Yesterday, another reporter asked a similar question, but had interpreted Scott's remark as referring to the Plame leak, which is not a claim McClellan explicitly makes.

    Today I asked Perino the following question (note: the gaggle was off-camera, and no official transcript was provided by the White House):

    Me: Yesterday you were asked about Scott's assertion that in early April 2006 he relayed to President Bush a reporter's question about whether the president had personally authorized Scooter Libby's leaking of classified information, to which the president replied, according to Scott, "Yeah, I did." Did the president make that statement?

    Perino: The question I got was whether or not the president had authorized the leaking of Valerie Plame's identity. That's not what the book says. That's what the question was, that's not what the book says. And that's the question that I didn't answer because I knew that's not what the book says.

    Me: But can you answer my question, right now?

    Perino: I didn't understand your question, because you asked me about a question I was asked yesterday that was mischaracterized.

    Me: Well, Scott has asserted that in early April of 2006 he relayed to President Bush a reporter's question about whether the president had personally authorized Scooter Libby's leaking of classified information, to which the president replied, according to Scott, "Yeah, I did." Did the president say "Yeah, I did" to Scott?

    Perino: I have no idea whether he said that or not.

    Me: Well, have you asked him?

    Perino: No, I haven't. And I think it's kind of unreasonable to expect anyone to remember a specific conversation like that. But let me just say one thing. That's commenting specifically on the Libby and Plame case. Because it's still a matter of civil litigation, I'm not going to get myself embroiled in that. I don't think there's anything improper about pushing back on the public record when it needs to be pushed back on. And the case that you're talking about is the NIE on Iraq, and that was declassified.

    At least that's the story put out by the Bush administration and by Scooter Libby, who was convicted of two counts of perjury, one count of making false statements to the FBI, and one count of obstruction of justice.

    In reality, the NIE was "officially declassified" (those are Scott McClellan's words, by the way) on July 18, ten days after Scooter Libby leaked it to the New York Times's Judy Miller in their meeting in the St. Regis Hotel. But there was something else that Scooter leaked to Judy at that July 8 meeting.

    As firedoglake's Marcy Wheeler has pointed out, Scooter Libby was asked to leak something to Judy Miller on July 8 that was so unprecedented, so hush-hush, so on the Q.T., that he wasn't willing to do it until he had gotten assurances from Vice President Cheney that the president himself had authorized it. It doesn't make sense that he would have been that worried about leaking the NIE, because he had already leaked the NIE twice before, to Bob Woodward of the Washington Post on June 27, and to David Sanger of the New York Times on July 2.

    So what was it then that made Scooter so nervous? The other thing he leaked to Judy that day at the St. Regis was that Joe Wilson's wife, Valerie Plame, worked for the CIA.

    The preceding article was a White House report from Eric Brewer, who will periodically attend White House press briefings for Raw Story. Brewer is also a contributor at BTC News. He was the first reporter to ask about the Downing Street memo and the Pentagon analysts scandal at White House briefings.
    No One Knows Everything. Only Together May We Find The Truth JG

  4. #4
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    Jan 2005
    McClellan would be skeptical of White House on Iran

    Published: Thursday May 29, 2008

    Former White House Press Secretary Scott McClellan told MSNBC's Keith Olbermann in his first prime time interview since the release of his book, What Happened: Inside the Bush White House and What's Wrong with Washington, that he was disillusioned by his realization of his role in the White House's outing of CIA agent Valerie Plame.

    The President's admission of responsibility for the leak during a trip on Air Force One, McClellan said, was the turning point. He further said that he wanted to know what happened to the man that promised to "restore honor and integrity in the White House."

    "When I went to work for the President, I had all this great hope, like a lot of people, that he was going to come to Washington and change Washington as he had governed in Texas," he continued. McClellan put his faith, like many Americans, in the President and the foreign policy team after 9/11.

    "Did you lie, as White House press secretary, at any point?" Olbermann asked.

    "I did when it came to the issue of the Valerie Plame leak episode, when I unknowingly did so. I passed along false information. I'd been given assurances by Karl Rove and Scooter Libby that they were not involved in the leak. And it turned out later that they were, but they both unequivocally told me, when I asked them, 'Were you involved in this in any way?' they said no."

    McClellan went on to say that the 9/11 attacks were used to further a "broad view" of what would become the War on Terror, with Iraq being incorporated as part of such a view. 9/11 was seemingly as much of an opportunity as it was a disaster, McClellan insinuated, for members of the Bush administration, including Defense Secretary Rumsfeld, to fulfill desires they may even have had before 9/11.

    "What happened was that the intelligence was packaged together in a way to make it sound more ominous, and more grave, and more urgent, than it really was."

    "Coercive democracy," McClellan went on, was part of the Bush administration's strategy in the Middle East. On the selling of the war, the Bush administration was perhaps zealous, but didn't actively lie, McClellan opined. "I don't think that that this was some deliberate, conscious effort to go and mislead the American people," he said, "but it was part of this 'permanent campaign' mentality that existed in Washington too often today (sic), and it was taken from other policies and brought into the issue of war and peace, where it becomes especially problematic and especially troubling."

    "This White House," McClellan went on, "was too secretive, or has been too secretive--too know, too willing to embrace the unsavory political tactics that are at the heart of the excesses of the 'permanent campaign.'"

    "They are still in this permanent campaign mode," McClellan added, on being questioned on whether or not the White House is making preparations to invade Iran. "They haven't backed away from that. I can't speak specifically to what the intent is in some of the people's heads there. I think that our options are certainly limited with all of our commitments right now, but I hope that when people look and read this book, that they will learn some of the lessons from Iraq and that we won't make some of the mistakes that we've made elsewhere."

    "So knowing what you know," Olbermann inquired, "if Dana Perino starts making noises similar to what you heard from Ari Fleischer in 2002 and other members of the cabinet, you would be suspicious?"

    "I would be," McClellan said. "I think that you would need to take the comments seriously and be skeptical."

    The entire interview, as aired on May 29, 2008 on MSNBC's Countdown with Keith Olbermann, is available to view in five parts below:

    Video At Source
    No One Knows Everything. Only Together May We Find The Truth JG

  5. #5
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  6. #6
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    Jan 2005
    MoveOn says McClellan should not profit
    More politicans slam ex-staffer, call for proceeds donation

    (Gold9472: I agree.)

    Jon Ward
    Saturday, May 31, 2008

    Former White House Press Secretary Scott McClellan's book "What Happened" is seen at the White House in Washington, Thursday, May 29, 2009. McClellan defended his bombshell book about the Bush administration on Thursday, saying he didn't speak up against the overselling of war in Iraq at the time because he, like other Americans, gave the president the benefit of the doubt.

    The liberal anti-war group today launched a petition drive calling on former White House official Scott McClellan to donate the proceeds of his book to veterans of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.

    The petition drive, intended to create pressure for Mr. McClellan to be asked about it on the morning news-interview shows Sunday, is the latest signal of a backlash by Democrats and Republicans alike against the former press secretary for turning on his ex-boss, President Bush.

    MoveOn's petition e-mail, sent out to its supporters Saturday morning, said that Mr. McClellan's "coming clean is admirable.”

    "But McClellan shouldn't profit off the role he played in our nation's largest foreign policy blunder,” the release reads.

    "After spending years defending the Bush administration and perpetuating the lies that led our country into war, Scott McClellan is poised to make bank — his tell-all book is a bestseller and he may make hundreds of thousands or millions,” MoveOn says. "Meanwhile, our troops are still dying in Iraq.”

    Mr. McClellan's new book, "What Happened: Inside the Bush White House and Washington's Culture of Deception,” accuses the Bush administration of going to war in Iraq on false pretenses and of over-hyping the weapons of mass destruction threat.

    The tome rocketed to No. 1 on this week in advance of its release Monday after copies were obtained in advance by a handful of newspapers, including The Washington Times, on Tuesday night.

    Conservative bloggers critical of Mr. McClellan have pointed out that former Pentagon official Douglas J. Feith, one of the war's architects, is donating his proceeds from his new book, "War and Decision: Inside the Pentagon at the Dawn of the War on Terrorism,” to a group he set up to help war veterans.

    Mr. McClellan, a 40-year-old Texan who worked for Mr. Bush when he was governor of Texas and worked in the White House for six years, will appear Sunday on NBC's "Meet the Press” and on ABC's "This Week.”

    "If we make enough noise, he'll probably be asked about it on tomorrow's Sunday shows,” MoveOn said.

    The liberal group's move to shame Mr. McClellan into giving his money away is the most recent slam on him for being a turncoat.

    Terry McAuliffe, the former head of the Democratic National Committee who now is chairman of Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton's presidential campaign committee, said Mr. McClellan was "wrong” to write the book.

    "I find it abhorrent the way these people come out and write books about their boss. It made 'em money, it made 'em prestige, it gave them all this power and then they turn around and slap 'em,” Mr. McAuliffe said in an interview this week with National Journal.

    "I don't care who it is — Democrat, Republican — it's wrong,” he said.

    And on Thursday, former Republican Sen. Bob Dole, of Kansas, sent an e-mail to Mr. McClellan directly calling him a "miserable creature" and also suggesting that he donate his profits, though in a different way than MoveOn did.

    "There are miserable creatures like you in every administration who don't have the guts to speak up or quit if there are disagreements with the boss or colleagues," Mr. Dole wrote. "No, your type soaks up the benefits of power, revels in the limelight for years, then quits and, spurred on by greed, cashes in with a scathing critique."

    Mr. Dole said that "when the money starts rolling in you should donate it to a worthy cause, something like, 'Biting The Hand That Fed Me.' "

    "You should have spoken up publicly like a man, or quit your cushy, high-profile job,” Mr. Dole said. "You're a hot ticket now, but don't you, deep down, feel like a total ingrate?"

    Mr. McClellan responded to Mr. Dole publicly, saying, "I have had time to reflect and go back, and what I'm saying is sincere.”

    "I have a lot of respect for Sen. Dole,” he added.
    No One Knows Everything. Only Together May We Find The Truth JG

  7. #7
    PhilosophyGenius Guest
    I guess he isn't Scott McCocksucker anymore. lol

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