May 28th, 2008
03:15 PM ET
6 years ago

Blitzer: Most explosive charges I can remember

CNN Anchor Wolf Blitzer
CNN Anchor Wolf Blitzer

WASHINGTON (CNN) – I don’t remember a time when a White House press secretary has written a book and made such explosive charges about a sitting president. That is exactly what Scott McClellan has done in his new book: “What Happened: Inside the Bush White House and Washington’s Culture of Deception.”

Yes, there have been White House insiders who have written books critical of their respective bosses. I remember George Stephanopolous and Robert Reich writing books that came down hard on Bill Clinton and his administration.

But McClellan goes way beyond any of that. He says the war in Iraq was a blunder. He writes that war “should only be waged when necessary, and the Iraq war was not necessary.” Does that mean that the 4,000-plus American troops killed in Iraq and the hundreds of billions of dollars spent were for naught?

He says President Bush and his senior 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.”

And he goes further in charging that President Bush has “always been an instinctive leader more than an intellectual leader” and did not “delve deeply into all the possible policy options.”

McClellan’s aides, including his former boss, Communications Director Dan Bartlett, insist this is not the Scott McClellan they knew and worked with for some ten years. They say he never complained about any of this during his years in the White House.

McClellan is about to start a series of television interviews, including one with me in The Situation Room. He will have a chance to make his case.

I suspect the political fallout from his charges will have ramifications out on the presidential campaign trail, given John McCain’s strong support for the war.


Filed under: Wolf Blitzer
soundoff (263 Responses)
  1. Justin, Sherman Oaks, CA

    As nice as the conformation is, if this surprised you, please think hard about why you trusted these people in the White house when they constantly proved they did not deserve it. The only thing this makes me think is how much of a puppet is the president. Did he just blindly trust all these morally bankrupt people around him. I am not sure I think he is more dumb or more evil than I thought before.

    May 28, 2008 04:08 pm at 4:08 pm |
  2. M in MN

    "Does that mean that the 4,000-plus American troops killed in Iraq and the hundreds of billions of dollars spent were for naught?"

    Yes. It does.

    May 28, 2008 04:09 pm at 4:09 pm |
  3. DISENFRANCHISED

    WOLFE THIS IS WHAT CONTINUES TO HAPPEN IN THIS ADMINISTRATION. THERE ISNT A PERSON WHO HASNT KEPT THEIR MOUTHS SHUT DURING BUSH'S TERM. NO DISCLOSURE UNTIL THEY ARE OUT. NO ACCOUNTABILITY WHATSOEVER. I THINK WE HAVE HAD ENOUGH OF THIS WHITE HOUSE. IMPEACHMENT SHOULD HAVE HAPPENED HOWEVER, I WOULD RATHER SEE THEM ALL GO TO JAIL. WITH NO POSSIBILITY OF A PARDON!

    May 28, 2008 04:09 pm at 4:09 pm |
  4. Andrew from Illinois

    This book is something that shouldn't be ignored. It takes a strong man to go against the people he knew for years and this could end up being a huge hit for any Iraq supporters in the fall.

    May 28, 2008 04:09 pm at 4:09 pm |
  5. Conservative Buyer- CA

    The more scrutiny McClellan receives from the Right, the deeper the hole Republicans keep digging.

    May 28, 2008 04:09 pm at 4:09 pm |
  6. proud army and navy mom

    in other words, bush is dumber than dog do-do. the thinking American public knew that.

    the press pandered bush until they finally grew a brain and started adding 2+2 together.

    if you ask me bush, his co-horts and the press should sit trial for the commission of war crimes and the attempts at cover-up.

    May 28, 2008 04:09 pm at 4:09 pm |
  7. Mary Lou

    "The truth never hurts.......unless it ought to!!!!!!!"

    May 28, 2008 04:09 pm at 4:09 pm |
  8. mcgoo

    George Bush will go down in history as the worst president in history. He came in with a surplus and now we are so far in a deficit nobody really knows how far. He got us in a war to make up for Daddy. He is to blame for the 4000 plus soldiers that are now dead. He is responsible for the $4 per gallon gas prices. Notice he didn't do anything when the 5 heads of big oil got up and lied to the american public. Know why? He's tied in with all of them. May he rot in hell. Liar that he is. Spin president that he is. I love every time someone comes out against him how he always says the same thing? He's "shocked". He's a liar, a rotten president and the worst human being ever to grace the white house steps.

    May 28, 2008 04:09 pm at 4:09 pm |
  9. SPOT

    Hmm, maybe there are republicans with a conscience after all.

    May 28, 2008 04:09 pm at 4:09 pm |
  10. Tell the truth

    The truth will come out about Bush. For all the people that said write Hilliary name in or stay at home or vote McCain just rember it your life your children that is going to suffer not Obama. I forgot my life and children also

    May 28, 2008 04:10 pm at 4:10 pm |
  11. Matt--Nebraska

    McClellan is the Clintons Dick Morris

    Read what McClellan said about Clarke's book a couple years ago. It will help you understand where Scott is coming from.

    ""Well, why, all of a sudden, if he had all these grave concerns, did he not raise these sooner? This is one-and-a-half years after he left the administration. And now, all of a sudden, he's raising these grave concerns that he claims he had. And I think you have to look at some of the facts. One, he is bringing this up in the heat of a presidential campaign. He has written a book and he certainly wants to go out there and promote that book. Certainly let's look at the politics of it.""

    '

    May 28, 2008 04:11 pm at 4:11 pm |
  12. Tim Schulz

    "Does that mean that the 4,000-plus American troops killed in Iraq and the hundreds of billions of dollars spent were for naught?" What kind of goofy spin are putting on this, Wolf? By making the statement, that the war was not necessary, that's EXACTLY the inference smart guys like you are supposed to make.

    How dense ARE you, anyway? And why the sneaky pro WH spin?

    May 28, 2008 04:11 pm at 4:11 pm |
  13. Felly

    George Bush administration is a total crap . The chickens are coming back to roost. Now we need to hear from Colin Powell etc, etc.

    May 28, 2008 04:12 pm at 4:12 pm |
  14. Olaoye Odubore

    Go on McClellan

    May 28, 2008 04:12 pm at 4:12 pm |
  15. Grady

    Rove said he "Sounds like a left wing blogger". That sound is the truth Karl. I know it's very strange to you.

    May 28, 2008 04:14 pm at 4:14 pm |
  16. Oracle99

    Wake up Wolf ? Did you belive all the garbage?

    May 28, 2008 04:14 pm at 4:14 pm |
  17. Brett, Ft. Worth TX

    "Does that mean that the 4,000-plus American troops killed in Iraq and the hundreds of billions of dollars spent were for naught?"

    YES!! How many times do people need to be smacked upside the head with information before they see that this is the truth!? How many alternative-energy power plants, water pipelines and desalination plants to solve drought issues and transportation infrastructure repairs could have been done with those hundreds of billions of dollars? The time of American leadership in the world is ending because the money that should have been spent on this country over the last 8 years has been quite literally set on fire in some desert halfway around the world.

    We're now 8 years behind and it will take more than 16 years to catch up. Let's hope Obama can start the process off right ...

    May 28, 2008 04:15 pm at 4:15 pm |
  18. Chief lagosboy, NJ

    George Bush's chickens have come home to roost!
    President Bush aka “The Worst President Ever” as been a puzzled individual for the past 7+ years. This guy is stuck on stupid! Bush do the American public a favor and resign, you are a failure and a disgrace to the presidency. This buffoon has single handedly destroy this country, we are the laughing stock of the world. He is so out of touch with everyday people, Let see: High Food Prices, High Unemployment, Foreclosures in the thousands, All Time High Gas Prices, illegal and Unpopular War, Civil Rights Violations, The Economy in Shambles, and the list goes on and on and on, Mission accomplished indeed! May God forgive you because the American Public will sure not! A vote for Grandpa McCain = Bush 3rd Term, America we can’t afford to make this mistake again!
    Congratulation Obama, we are almost home!

    Our President Obama 08′ & 12′

    May 28, 2008 04:15 pm at 4:15 pm |
  19. 2012

    Hehehehe........I wonder how much Barry paid him?

    May 28, 2008 04:15 pm at 4:15 pm |
  20. Wilhelmina, Wilmette, Il. 60091

    My innermost gut feelings are in Mr. McClellans favour.
    What ever his hidden motives may be, I am inclined to believe
    his allegations. This is devastating but interesting news for the analytical mind. I believe it is important for the public, for the American
    people, to get these bits and peaces of info and sort it out with an open mind, ( and the help of shrewd questions by the media) so we
    will know finally the real truth and nothing but the truth.
    It's important for a NEW beginning.
    Helmi L.

    May 28, 2008 04:16 pm at 4:16 pm |
  21. Michael, Toronto, Canada

    Wolf, no one need to tell you that the war in Iraq was unnecessary, knowing what we know Today that the evidence uased by Bush and his team was fabricated.
    George Bush should be charged for war crime, He already made up his mind about taking out Sadam even before he was President.

    May 28, 2008 04:16 pm at 4:16 pm |
  22. joe smith

    it's only explosive, because it brings a lot of extras into the conversation; namely our total commitment to certain middle eastern countries at the expence of our boys in uniform. american blood is on gw hands, and those who fostered this melt down; our economy will not be the same for the forseeable future, mccellen is probably soft peddeling in the book, as not to draw the ire of those we protect..for what..

    May 28, 2008 04:16 pm at 4:16 pm |
  23. Montana is Obama Country

    I couldn't stand listening to Scott McCellan when he spoke as the Press Secratary because I always felt like he was covering up or lying to the American people..

    I am glad to see he has a change of "propaganda"..

    We were lied to by President BUSH.........

    Bush Lied............Thousands Died...........

    May 28, 2008 04:17 pm at 4:17 pm |
  24. noemi in los angeles

    It's called freedom of speech.

    May 28, 2008 04:17 pm at 4:17 pm |
  25. martin

    apparently we need to be impeaching pres.bush.if it's too close to the election then someone needs to be preparing for war crimes trials,and someone needs to be held accountable for the deaths of 4000+ of our best ,and most patriotic americans.

    May 28, 2008 04:18 pm at 4:18 pm |
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