(CNN) – The publisher of an upcoming book by former White House spokesman Scott McClellan said Wednesday it will clarify how President Bush was "involved" in McClellan's giving misinformation to the media on the culpability of two officials in the Valerie Plame Wilson case.
"There's no suggestion in the book that the president deliberately lied and sent him to the podium to tell people something that wasn't true. But it's pretty clear Scott went into battle without proper body armor," said Peter Osnos, founder and editor at large of PublicAffairs Books.
"Scott's not suggested that the president was himself party to a conspiracy to mislead. But it's pretty damn clear that other people knew what they had done and didn't tell the truth," Osnos said.
McClellan, who was press secretary from July 2003 until April 2006, is declining interviews.
McClellan told CNN early this year that he believes the president was given assurances that Lewis "Scooter" Libby, chief of staff to Vice President Cheney, and Karl Rove, Bush's top political adviser, were not involved in leaking to the press that Valeriei Plame Wilson was a CIA covert operative.
Amid a swelling controversy about the leak of Wilson's CIA role, McClellan went to the White House podium in October 2003 and told reporters that Rove and Libby had not been involved in the leak.
"There was one problem. It was not true," McClellan writes in his new book, "What Happened," which is 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."
McClellan does not explain what he means by the word "involved," nor does he give specifics about any actions taken by Bush, Cheney, Libby, Rove or Card with regard to McClellan's dissemination of the false information.
In the excerpt, McClellan says five administration officials were "involved" in his "unknowingly" passing along false information about the involvement of Rove and Libby in leaking Wilson's identity.
Osnos said the excerpt was released now, because the company's book catalog came out Tuesday, and the media began asking questions.
Reacting to the excerpt, White House spokeswoman Dana Perino said in a statement Wednesday, "The president has not and would not ask anyone to knowingly pass on false information."
Wilson and her husband, former Ambassador Joe Wilson, believe the "outing" of her identity was an act of retaliation after Joe Wilson questioned of a claim by President Bush before the Iraq war that the British had learned that Saddam Hussein had sought to obtain uranium from Africa.
"I think it (book excerpt) now makes it very clear the extent to which the vice president was involved, which, of course, then makes it very clear how important to the vice president the commutation of Mr. Libby's sentence was," Joe Wilson said on CNN's "American Morning" on Wednesday.
Libby was convicted in March of perjury and obstruction of justice for lying to investigators and a federal grand jury about his contacts with reporters concerning Valerie Wilson.
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.
"They basically closed ranks, guaranteed that the cloud (special prosecutor Patrick) Fitzgerald said was over the vice president's head would not be lifted," Joe Wilson said. "And now because of McClellan's statement, that cloud is over the president himself.
"He is either completely out of touch or he's an accessory to an obstruction of justice both before the fact and after the fact."
He added, "At a bare minimum, for openers, think it's incumbent upon the president and vice president now to release the transcripts of their statements to the special prosecutor, so we now have a fuller understanding of what they knew, when they knew it, and what they said to Justice."
In addition, the public deserves to know "whether or not they continue to frustrate the efforts of the Justice Department and the efforts of the government to get to the bottom of what is essentially the betrayal of national security of our country," said Wilson.
The Wilsons filed a civil lawsuit against Cheney, Libby and Rove over the leak, but a federal judge threw the lawsuit out in July on jurisdictional grounds. Joe Wilson said they are in the process of appealing, and hope the suit will be heard early next year.
On Tuesday, Valerie Wilson issued a statement saying she was "outraged to learn" that McClellan had confirmed "that he was sent out to lie to the press corps and the American public."
Valerie Wilson's name was revealed in a column by Robert Novak in the summer of 2003, who cited "two top administration officials."
The lawyer for Rove, who left the White House in August, has acknowledged he was one of the sources. Rove was never charged.
Former Deputy Secretary of State Richard Armitage has said he was Novak's original source for the information, although he insisted the disclosure was not deliberate, and he did not know Wilson was a covert agent.
Because deliberately leaking a CIA operative's name can be a federal crime, a special prosecutor, Fitzgerald, was appointed to investigate. No one was charged in connection with the leak itself; Libby's charges resulted from statements he made during the investigation.