In a book titled “What Happened: Inside the Bush White House and Washington’s Culture of Deception,” former White House Press Secretary Scott McClellan writes that the current Bush administration relied on an aggressive “political propaganda campaign” instead of the truth to sell the American people on the Iraq war. While this isn’t exactly news to us, it’s still rather damning for the lame-duck administration; a former high-ranking aide reveals the sordid innerworkings of one of the most unpopular administrations in history. According to McClellan, Bush carefully managed the situation in Iraq so that it was “almost guaranteed that the use of force would become the only feasible option.”
Current Bush Press Secretary Dana Perino issued a statement today saying that McClellan is “disgruntled” and that she and her colleagues were “puzzled” by his words.
McClellan (the second of four Bush press secretaries) insists in the book that, despite the fact that he lied to the American people over and over again — in his words, some of his assertions from the podium were “badly misguided” — he kept his mouth shut out of a sense of duty. “When words I uttered, believing them to be true, were exposed as false, I was constrained by my duties and loyalty to the president and unable to comment,” he says. “But I promised reporters and the public that I would someday tell the whole story of what I knew.”
The book discusses, among other things, the CIA leak scandal surrounding Scooter Libby and Karl Rove; the administration’s use of “propaganda” to sell the war; and how the press corps were too easy on the administration during the run-up to the war.
“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.”