November 20th, 2007
05:38 PM ET
11 years ago

Ex-aide: Bush, Cheney involved in misleading media about Plame leak

Scott McClellan with President Bush in 2006.

WASHINGTON (CNN) - The White House is denying a claim in a new book by former White House spokesman Scott McClellan that top administration officials - including President Bush and Vice President Dick Cheney - were involved in his "unknowingly" passing along false information about the involvement of Karl Rove and Lewis "Scooter" Libby in the leak of a CIA operative's identity.

Amid a burgeoning controversy about the leak of Valerie Plame Wilson's name, McClellan went to the White House podium in October 2003 and told reporters that Rove, the president's top political adviser, and Libby, Cheney's chief of staff, had not been involved.

"There was one problem. It was not true," McClellan writes in his new book, "What Happened," which is scheduled to be released in April. "I had unknowingly passed along false information. And five of the highest ranking officials in the administration were involved in my doing so: Rove, Libby, the vice president, the president's chief of staff and the president himself."

Reacting to the release of an excerpt from McClellan's book, which was posted Tuesday on the Web site of the book's publisher, PublicAffairs, White House spokesman Scott Stanzel said, "The president has not misled his spokespeople, nor would he."

The portion of McClellan's book released by PublicAffairs did not give any specifics about the actions of Bush, Cheney, Libby, Rove or then-Chief of Staff Andrew Card with regard to McClellan's dissemination of the false information.

There was no immediate comment from McClellan, who served as White House press secretary from July 2003 until April 2006.

In the excerpt, McClellan writes that "the most powerful leader in the world had called upon me to speak on his behalf and help restore credibility he lost amid the failure to find weapons of mass destruction in Iraq. So I stood at the White House briefing room podium in front of the glare of the klieg lights for the better part of two weeks and publicly exonerated two of the senior-most aides in the White House: Karl Rove and Scooter Libby."

In March, Libby was convicted of perjury and obstruction of justice for lying to investigators and a federal grand jury about his contacts with reporters concerning Wilson, the wife of Joe Wilson, a former U.S. ambassador who had accused the Bush administration of misrepresenting intelligence on Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein's weapons of mass destruction in the run-up to the invasion of Iraq.

Just before Libby was to report to a federal prison in July to serve 30 months behind bars, Bush commuted his sentence, although the president stopped short of a full pardon and Libby still had to pay a $250,000 fine.

Rove, who left the White House staff at the end of August, was never charged in the case. But his lawyer has acknowledged he was one of two sources cited by syndicated columnist Bob Novak, who first reported that Valerie Plame Wilson worked for the CIA in the summer of 2003.

Former Deputy Secretary of State Richard Armitage has since acknowledged that he was Novak's original source for the information that Wilson worked at the CIA, although he insisted the disclosure was not deliberate and he did not know at the time she was a covert agent.

Because deliberately leaking a CIA operative's name can be a federal crime, a special prosecutor, Patrick Fitzgerald, was appointed to investigate the case. However, no one was charged in connection with the leak itself; Libby's charges resulted from statements he made during the investigation.

Related video: Watch Valerie Plame in The Situation Room

Related video: Armitage admits mistake

–CNN White House Correspondent Suzanne Malveaux contributed to this report.

Filed under: President Bush • Scooter Libby • Valerie Plame
soundoff (141 Responses)
  1. Andy, New York, New York

    McClellan is a snake! I'm a Bush-backer and I believe what McClellan is saying to be true. My problem comes from the fact that MAC got paid taxpayers money to represent the President to the media and public, and he LIED in the execution of his duties. Now he is out of a job, he writes a book admitting he lied and that Bush knew about the CIA operative? Who the hell cares at this late stage? It's like Alan Greenspan qutiing and writing a book that said, in part, we went to war with Iraq over oil. Who cares? Even if Bush comes out with an admission to several missteps and misdeeds, we all know enough to form our own opinions. I justcan't take these kiss and tell former employees who helped create the mess and then try to cash in with their confessions. They suck! They stink! Drop dead, you SOBs!

    November 20, 2007 07:57 pm at 7:57 pm |
  2. Michael Gregory, South Hadley, MA

    The outing of CIA agent Valerie Plame was/is an act of treason and very unpatriotic.

    We all knew, it was clear that the time that Plame's outing was directly related to her husband Joseph Wilson's very patriotic act of criticizing the Iraqi war.

    When will we know the truth, was everyone in the White House involved in Valerie Plame's outing?

    November 20, 2007 08:04 pm at 8:04 pm |
  3. Gorbashov

    Traitors one and all!

    Impeach, now!!!!!!!!!!

    November 20, 2007 08:05 pm at 8:05 pm |
  4. Alex Young


    November 20, 2007 08:05 pm at 8:05 pm |
  5. dot mafia, new york NY

    For 7 long years, it's been absolutely both stunning and horrifying to watch how the Bush "administration" has disseminated, and all of America has perceived, a warped reality due to the heavily biased mass media which this "administration" has so effectively utilized in it's ultra-patriotic propaganda. I've often wondered if this was how it felt to live in Nazi Germany during the 1930's, hearing and seeing the same sort of continuous lies to the public, creating an atmosphere of war and revenge and transmitted through patriotism.

    I still continue to believe that the ultra-patriotism which is so deeply ingrained in the American society, has been used, and continues to be used against the American people by this so-called "administration". It is both morally and criminally wrong.

    November 20, 2007 08:14 pm at 8:14 pm |
  6. Jon

    This presidency is turning out like a bad soap opera. Every plot twist that reveals the villan is transparent, but everybody watching wants to see it play out.

    November 20, 2007 08:16 pm at 8:16 pm |
  7. John, Dallas, TX

    When is someone going to have the cojones to impeach this President, Vice President and the rest of the sorry administration?

    November 20, 2007 08:27 pm at 8:27 pm |
  8. Jon

    How many more of these revelations are the American people going to tolerate? A falsified war, 3.00 a gallon, economy that is circling the drain and an oil industry that provides the catalyst to shift wealth that makes the people that hate America rich for the next century.

    November 20, 2007 08:27 pm at 8:27 pm |
  9. F.M. Batiste, Jacksonville, NC

    interesting how the obvious is often validated in such a manner that it can't be trusted. How convenient to make such comments that can be defended by the Bush Admin as unfounded or words from a disgruntle employee. So, another former employee insinuates that the Bush Admin has done wrong.

    The reality is that any semi intelligent American already has concluded that the Bush Admin entire staff should be in jail but since the system works for the Rich and Powerful, only God will be the one that issues punishment.

    November 20, 2007 08:29 pm at 8:29 pm |
  10. Mike T, Oakland, CA

    Impeach, try, convict, then charge and convict them all for treason. Even Bush's dad said anyone who did what they did comitted treason!

    November 20, 2007 08:34 pm at 8:34 pm |
  11. Glen Bush, Orange, Texas

    No one should be automatically convicted just because someone said they were guilty. However, when Plume was first exposed, it was so obvious that this was retribution by someone. There was absolutely no other valid reason for her being exposed. And the White House is the only one who had a motive for exposing her. If this turns out to be true, people should go to jail. However, we know that powerful people are never sufficiently punished for committing crimes.

    November 20, 2007 08:35 pm at 8:35 pm |
  12. martin, rangeley, maine

    The White House denies it. It must be true then. My head is starting to hurt. When will Americians deal with this group of criminals.

    November 20, 2007 08:49 pm at 8:49 pm |
  13. Tom, Melbourne, Australia

    Will Bush live up to his promise to 'fire anyone involved in the leak or converup,' and fire himself?

    November 20, 2007 08:50 pm at 8:50 pm |
  14. Carol Lipski SC

    Birds of a feather flock together, and the whitehouse machine are again trying to hide from the truth.
    This is only scratching the surface of the falsehoods that have come out of this whitehouse.

    November 20, 2007 08:53 pm at 8:53 pm |
  15. Mike Harley

    Hey, they don't do "torture" either.

    Who cares what a White House spokesman says? Spin is what they do for a living.

    I guess Mr.McClellan finally decided that it was in his best interest to be able to sleep at night.

    November 20, 2007 08:56 pm at 8:56 pm |
  16. k.t. orzechowski

    hang them all- a voter

    November 20, 2007 08:58 pm at 8:58 pm |
  17. Pat, Portland, Ore

    Why didn't you have the courage to say it then Scottie? Way to stand up you coward. When did you finally come to the realization? Seems to be the trait that the truth comes out after the heat is off. Everyone of these lying, cheat should be charged with treason.

    November 20, 2007 09:10 pm at 9:10 pm |
  18. jerry brooks New York, N.Y.

    Bush lied to the American people about a very serious issue, and then he covered it up. The mind reels what would happen to Bill Clinton if the sitution was in reverse . Now its up to the media to do its duty and not take part in the cover-up.

    November 20, 2007 09:13 pm at 9:13 pm |
  19. Michael, Houston, Tx

    Well, this sounds like intentional misleading of the American people.

    Before you tory/loyalist types go to king georges defense, consider that we have all been misled in a very public, orchestrated way. We should all be united and ashamed that our highest officials, men we trusted and respected, have misled us in such a way.

    Time to appoint that special prosecutor, and dig into this mess. I think this qualifies as an impeachable offense. Unbelievable

    November 20, 2007 09:30 pm at 9:30 pm |
  20. Michael, Houston, Tx

    I am sorry, I would like to add, a possible impeachable offense – if proven accurate and true.

    Everyone is due an investigation and their fair hearing. An impeachment investigation should never be a frivolous matter.

    November 20, 2007 09:37 pm at 9:37 pm |
  21. Lee, Dallas, Texas

    It must be sad to have put his faith and trust in the leaders of our country then to find out that he was "had" and will be hung out to dry.

    November 20, 2007 10:09 pm at 10:09 pm |
  22. Steve, Lyons, CO

    Bush and Cheney lied their asses off about Valerie Plume.

    Is everyone pretending this is news?

    November 21, 2007 01:45 am at 1:45 am |
  23. Cameron Memphis, TN

    How much proof and testimony do you need? We ought to have an impeachment trial. The President was involved in exposing an undercover CIA agent, endangering not only her life, but the lives of her contacts.

    This is treason. Impeach Bush.

    November 21, 2007 03:25 am at 3:25 am |
  24. Ron Nebraska

    So all you Bush/Cheney/Rove apologists, is this ok? I mean knowingly having your mouthpiece lie to the American people, where do we stand on that? Good? Bad? Too ignorant to know the difference?

    November 21, 2007 03:50 am at 3:50 am |
  25. Gerald W, Johanesburg, Mi

    I think it's time these evildoers are brough to justice

    November 21, 2007 04:08 am at 4:08 am |
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