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. CAPTAIN CAPSLOCK

    CAPTAIN CAPSLOCK SAYS:

    THIS BOOK IS TELLING US WHAT WE ALREADY KNOW..

    Thanks a lot to the half of the country that voted this Bush to a second term. Make sure you don't make the same mistake this year. Vote Obama!

    YEEEEHAAWWW!

    May 28, 2008 04:18 pm at 4:18 pm |
  2. David Mark

    I'm not a bit surprised by the allegations made in the book. It should be obvious that the war in Iraq was and is a complete failure. A war that should have never been waged; and a war, quite frankly that has been propped up by lies and using scare tactics on the American people in order to try and maintain support for a mistake that should have been admitted years ago.

    President Bush has led this nation into an economic and military disaster that will be paid for by this nation for years to come. Over 4,000 of our young men and women have lost their lives in this debacle while the individual responsible for 9/11 is still alive.

    I truly wonder how Mr. Bush and his cronies can look at themselves in the mirror each morning.

    May 28, 2008 04:18 pm at 4:18 pm |
  3. No McSame

    God bless him for telling the truth. Why won't Rove testify about what he did in the Alabama Gov. case? These guys need to go to jail.
    Scott is a good and noble man. The truth sets us free. That what the Bible says. So much for the religious WRONG in this country.
    Obama08
    NAVY Vet. for Obama

    May 28, 2008 04:18 pm at 4:18 pm |
  4. Olutayo Osunkunle

    The man is saying what most people know. This is why Bush's approval rating is all time low! I applaud him for speaking the truth

    May 28, 2008 04:18 pm at 4:18 pm |
  5. ericfree

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

    Is Blitzer a total idiot? We attacked the wrong country! For reasons that had nothing to do with our national security and everything to do with the hunger for power of a tiny group of maniacs, we've impoverished our country and made it, and the world, more vulnerable to destruction. Look back to before the stolen election of 2000 and compare it to the world today. It's as if we're looking at two different universes. Some have unwillingly made the transition. Others cling to their fatal delusions.

    May 28, 2008 04:19 pm at 4:19 pm |
  6. Ted van Tol

    Well he comes out a litle bit late!
    The whole world new that a long time ago!
    What a sad conclusion after the death of so
    many civilions and sons and daughters of America.
    It's time for change, and I believe it's realy comming soon,
    Barack Obama wil bring that change. Be amazed about the
    steps he will make to make this planet a better place for living.

    May 28, 2008 04:21 pm at 4:21 pm |
  7. Do you remember...

    Do you remember a Presidency that has broken so many laws? Including treason, fraud, money laundering, racketeering, conspiracy, just to name a few? Maybe he just had more to write about consider he was PS for the worst and most unlawful President in the 220+ year of this country.

    If we, the citizens, committed only one illegal act the President has we'd be executed.

    May 28, 2008 04:23 pm at 4:23 pm |
  8. No Way

    To quote the Clintons, "JUDAS".

    May 28, 2008 04:23 pm at 4:23 pm |
  9. Debby

    Wolf, this guy is McClellan has turned into Freddy Krueger. When Bush initially waged the war in Iraq after 911 mostly everyone was on board Dems. and Repubs. Yes its taking time to stablize the country but we bombed the whole freaking country. We can't even finish rebuilding New Orleans and Mississippi after Katrina and those are small states. This guy wants his 2min. of fame and then no one will ever hear from that has been again.

    May 28, 2008 04:24 pm at 4:24 pm |
  10. Mike in Granada Hills

    Scott's trying to purge his guilt, it's too late for that. For keeping silent and participating in the deception all of Bush's cohorts have the stain of American Service members blood on their head. A lot of good the truth does now!!! it's easy to speak out after the fact. General Powell George Tenet and you should of spoken out when you could of made a difference

    May 28, 2008 04:24 pm at 4:24 pm |
  11. Enlightned Voter

    All he did was tell the truth. I swear, I don't know how any enlightened person could ever be a republican.

    May 28, 2008 04:25 pm at 4:25 pm |
  12. John Smith

    Hillary is like "Viagra," she is great at "exciting" or "arousing" the Republican base.

    Given that the Republicans are looking quite "impotent" and under-aroused at this time, the Democrats will do wonders by giving them Hillary!! It would really enegergize the Republican base!

    Again, you knows, the Democrats always do a great job of losing to the Republicans, and they are laying the foundations for defeat again!

    May 28, 2008 04:25 pm at 4:25 pm |
  13. Hans-Erik Iken

    So the man decides to tell the truth that the whole world knows allready, after being paid to lie about it for years...

    We know these lies allready, we have seen it unfold. I only wonder why he decided to become truthful all of a sudden. Could be the money involved I guess, and that takes away a lot of his credibility and supposed integrity.

    I just hope the message does not get contaminated by this persons past lies about it.

    May 28, 2008 04:25 pm at 4:25 pm |
  14. Greg in Georgia

    Regardless of which side of the political spectrum you fall on it is unwise to have staff members freely share confidences with the world for their own ill-begotten gain. Robert McNamara was one of the chief architects fo the Viet Nam war and later said it was a mistake. The people that take these priveleged positions as confidants to a President should have the guts to take their secrets to their graves and not destroy the families of wounded and dead veterans, unless under subpoena. Especially when it is intended to profit themselves.

    May 28, 2008 04:26 pm at 4:26 pm |
  15. Bubba

    Bush just can't understand why anyone would ever tell the truth. I personally think McLellan's book is self-serving in that he was never a patriotic American being fooled by his evil overlords, but part of the plot. Tony Snow describes his job as 'helping set policy,' does that sound like the mouthpiece is out of the loop? McLellan knew what was going down and he lied like a storm trooper, but then they fired him for looking like a liar. I think the book is payback, I think he's disgruntled, and I think the book is substantially true. Hey, if it's all a big hoax, where are those WMDs?

    May 28, 2008 04:27 pm at 4:27 pm |
  16. California girl

    Now really Wolf, you didn't really think anything different about this war and this presidency, did you? If you did, then I wonder about you! It was clear that the moment George Bush stole this presidency that he wanted to go to war with Iraq. I think now all Americans recognize that fact. I don't know the reason why this book was written, or for that matter anything about McClellan, but I do know that George Bush is the Texas village idiot and Americans went to sleep in 2000 when they voted for him. I only hope that we have now become awake.

    May 28, 2008 04:28 pm at 4:28 pm |
  17. Tyrone Brown, Seattle, WA

    The White House and Republican machine will certainly attack McClellan for speaking the truth. I am sure he understood the political fall-out of going against the current administration, which only gives more credence to his insight into the Bush White House. Sad truth is that America already knew and knows – that the Bush Administration failed us.

    May 28, 2008 04:29 pm at 4:29 pm |
  18. Burt

    I don't see any explosive allegations here, it's all common knowledge. I mean, McClellan was the press secretary. His job description pretty much guaranteed he wasn't in the loop. You don't give the guy talking to the press any valid information; he's a mouthpiece and nothing more. He's just out to sell some books now.

    May 28, 2008 04:29 pm at 4:29 pm |
  19. Kathie, Ontario . Canada

    I've read in many blogs and heard the talking heads on TV ask
    why didn't he speak up when he was in the White House.. Why
    didn't he tell the president that he disagreed on several issues?
    Well these people must have a very short or very selective
    memory. Don't any of you remember what happened to Joe
    Wilson and his wife Valerie Plame when Joe Wilson dared to
    disagree with Bush and his administration? Obviously,
    McClellan did.

    May 28, 2008 04:30 pm at 4:30 pm |
  20. KE

    History books need to be written from all angles, from experts to soldiers on the ground, and the Iraq people will write their history as well. History is a good judge.

    May 28, 2008 04:31 pm at 4:31 pm |
  21. Cindy

    How can we resolve the apparent conflict between the story Mr. McClellan tells and the response by Mr. Bartlett? Like any rational person would do - look at the objective, independent evidence. Did Bush conduct this war in a way that leads you to believe that he considered all the policy options? He either didn't consider them or he has the worst judgment on the planet. Anyone even remotely qualified to be president should have been able to predict at least some of the consequences of the way this war was being conducted. DId he see any of them coming? If not, why not? If so, why did he proceed in the way he did?

    This book is just the tip of the iceberg. Once Bush has cleared out of the White House, there will be a flood of revelations that will leave all of us nauseous.

    May 28, 2008 04:31 pm at 4:31 pm |
  22. dan davenport

    I think it took alot of courage for him to release this book while the sitting duck is still waddling around the White House! This has been the most disgusting administration Washington has EVER seen!!
    Hopefully, the voters realize that voting for McCain is voting for the same nightmare, maybe THAT is why this book has come out now???

    May 28, 2008 04:32 pm at 4:32 pm |
  23. bridgette

    Wolf don't forget he criticized the media as well for not doing what you all were suppose to do as reporters. Don't leave that out. You all have sit back and let this administration do whatever you wanted it to do and now you want to criticize them. WE have had these sociopathic and pyscopathic people leading this country to hell in a gasoline soaked basket filled with hay and paper and you all the media sat back and let it happen.

    May 28, 2008 04:32 pm at 4:32 pm |
  24. Jeanne Broomall, Pa.

    Dear Scott:

    Please have the closets in the White House cleaned for the new administration, unless its McCain.

    Thanks,
    Citizen J

    May 28, 2008 04:32 pm at 4:32 pm |
  25. lamotz in PA

    It's about time someone from that administration comes clean. Dubya and his cronies have conspired to mislead America since the very beginning (remember Florida?). How he could possibly be considered electable is still unfathomable to me! He obviously couldn't think his way out of a paper bag. I wonder how many copies of "Curious George" will be housed in the gwbush library. McBush would just give the bush supporters 4 more years to destroy this country and all that it has stood for since 1776. We're not safe because of him. He has created a "hotspot" where there was none. I wonder how much his trust fund is benefitting from all of this.

    May 28, 2008 04:32 pm at 4:32 pm |
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