May 28th, 2008
03:15 PM ET
7 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. Mike in Granada Hills

    So Greg in Georgia it somehow honors the dead veterans if Scott were to just keep quiet about all of this? If a President doesn't want to worry about staffers writing books here is a simple solution.... just do the right thing in the first place. The families of wounded and dead are already devastated by their losses regardless. It takes guts to stand up and do the right thing when it has to be done..... it doesn't take guts to keep quiet. remaining silent is cowardice

    May 28, 2008 05:05 pm at 5:05 pm |
  2. mimi

    Of Course he's right that The war was one big blunder, but he doesn't only blame Bush he also blames the Media and After this political Campaign I can see that as being true.

    The Media tells millions and millions of people what they think (biased or not)
    I remember a time when you didn't know what a news caster was thinking but today with msnbc's sexist rants and cnn Cafferty of course we know exactly what you guys want us to believe. I Blame the Media for the disgraceful way Hillary Clinton has been treated. It's a sad day when You cannot disagree with a candidate for fear of being called a racist Is that what all you media people are afraid of?

    May 28, 2008 05:05 pm at 5:05 pm |
  3. Frank, Atlanta, GA

    I'D LIKE TO TAKE THIS OPPORTUNITY TO STRONGLY URGE FELLOW AMERICANS TO INSIST ON THE IMPEACHMENT OF BUSH AND CHENEY AND OTHER ADMINISTRATION OFFICIALS RESPONSIBLE FOR HIGH CRIMES AND MISDEMEANORS AND THE PLETHORA OF WAR CRIMES, BEFORE THE EXIT PARDONS BEGIN THIS FALL. NOT HOLDING THIS REPUBLICAN ADMINISTRATION RESPONSIBLE FOR THEIR CRIMES IS A CRIME ITSELF.

    TAKE ACTION NOW AND DEMAND IMPEACHMENT OF BUSH/CHENEY ET AL.

    May 28, 2008 05:06 pm at 5:06 pm |
  4. Ken in Anaheim

    This is much ado about nothing regarding President Bush. It does raise questions about McClelland's character, however. Why would a person debase his own reputation, no matter how ordinary, for a few dollars?

    May 28, 2008 05:07 pm at 5:07 pm |
  5. ENLIGHTEN HUMAN

    George Bush Sr use the UN to slowly strip Sadam of his military power after his so called invasion or Kawat which our gov. secretly agreed to. Then he was accused of attacking his neighbor, then we begin to demonize him to the world, even though we supplied him with the weapons to attack his neighbor Iran which makes us hypocrites. This continued though the Clinton and Bush administration. Then when he was weak Bush invaded destroyed the gov, murdered Sadam his sons and grandson whom was fourteen years old put in a puppet gov. Now our soldiers are dying for oil. Blood for oil pure and simple. The Bush administration should be tried for TREASON and given the sentence that apply.

    May 28, 2008 05:07 pm at 5:07 pm |
  6. Fred

    The media has been part of this all along. Television, newspapers etc are big companies owned by influential people, who have the same interests as other influential people.

    The truth lies much deeper than any mainstrean media will reveal. Americans are beginning to understand that there's more to this story, much more.

    May 28, 2008 05:07 pm at 5:07 pm |
  7. DJ, LA, CA

    Yes there's no question Wolf. Was there EVER a time when a person as close to a President such as the Press Secretary has thrown an administration under the bus???

    I believe EVERY word Scott wrote and have no reason to believe he is fabricating any of it.

    So then if this is the truth...? I mean those were some very serious if not outright criminal accusations.

    May 28, 2008 05:08 pm at 5:08 pm |
  8. Eleanor

    Scott McClelland only wrote what
    everyone else knew already, that this war and other issues were based on propoganda and lies!!!! Kudos to Scott for being honest!!!
    I wonder if anyone remembers the CNN documentary that came out of CNN a few years ago about the Iraq war when it was stated then that their source may as well have been named *lying sack of manure* they had it in their minds to go to war at any cost! Anyone who thinks anyone in this white house does not come out and lie and tell mis truths to cover Bushes foreign policy agenda and others is deluding themselves
    They say what the white house tells them to say…plain and simple or they lose their job…
    When the American people look at the death toll, vets wounded maimed and burnt do they not wonder how this president stares the american people in the face let alone look in the mirror every day
    knowing this war was based on a pack of lies
    Bush and Cheney should be charged with war crimes!
    They stooped to the level of the dictator they took out!!
    might be a good time CNN to reshow that documentary!!!!

    May 28, 2008 05:17 pm at 5:17 pm |
  9. david belanger,veteran

    lets see the whitehouse/bush/cheney sue in in court!!!!

    and wolf, i watch you everynight, please are you that stupid to beleive what anyone in the whitehouse says, i cant beleive you are that stupid??

    but your not alone thats for sure..

    bush/cheney/rice/rumsfeld/rove and all the rest of the crime family should be held for treason against this country. but our congress has no guts to do the right thing for america.

    shame on all of you in congress..shame all americans that is not calling everyday to complain about what is happening to america, thats right america , that so call stimuless check was payed to you by china...

    May 28, 2008 05:17 pm at 5:17 pm |
  10. John Easterling

    Mission accomplished. The cult of the Emperor is toppled.

    May our return to reality be swift and as painless as possible.

    May 28, 2008 05:17 pm at 5:17 pm |
  11. Walt

    Wolf, you already know that the loss of life and the billions of dollars spent to wage the Iraq War was for naught. And, that is regardless of the outcome. There was no need to attack Iraq, period. The war was immoral–we attacked them first. It was illegal–the UN Inspectors did not recommend attaciking Iraq.

    So, in the end other than Saddam is gone (overrated victory), Not only were 4000 American lives lost, and billions of dollars lost, but Wolf how many 100s of thousand Iraquis lost their lives. Don't forget the lives of our allies.

    Just say NO to cowboy diplomacy. Say no to McBush and Billary.

    May 28, 2008 05:19 pm at 5:19 pm |
  12. Karen

    Trying for his 15 minutes of fame.

    May 28, 2008 05:19 pm at 5:19 pm |
  13. martin

    wolf!tell carville to lay off the coffee!

    May 28, 2008 05:20 pm at 5:20 pm |
  14. Ardnuas

    If we had more people with the courage to TELL THE TRUTH, we would NOT have 4,000 Americans DEAD!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
    Thank you SCOTT

    May 28, 2008 05:21 pm at 5:21 pm |
  15. David, Santa Rosa, CA

    Dear Current Administration,
    Relative to S. McClellan's bood, get over your riteous indignation you pomous, arrogant, stupid, liars! You should be glad your not on trial for war crimes or crimes against humanity. Jail is too good for ya'll.

    What an embaressment and mess you neocons have created. You have shamed the USA, you have abused your power, you have played the worst kind of dirty politics (Valerie Plambe,US Attorney's, 2000 election), you have spent trillions everywhere around the globe and nothing here in the US, you ruined the dollar, created a housing crisis, created a jobless market, instigated torture, continually lied about Iraq (and still do!), did NOT make us safer here in the USA, did NOT get Osama Bin Laden, and you have NOT nuetralized Al Quida. You have squandered 4,000 American lives (more than the 911 attack!) for no purpose other than to make the defense industry rich and resolve some "little man syndrome." You've abused the courts, you've abused the constitution, you've abused the trust of the people, and you folks are absolutely disgraceful and… Un-american.

    Once we throw you decitful pieces of garbage out I pray that one agenda of the Dems is to see you all pay for your complete and often criminal, ineptitude.

    May 28, 2008 05:22 pm at 5:22 pm |
  16. Peter, San Francisco, CA

    Hey Wolf!
    Doesn't McClellan also have a word or two to say about the media (that's you, pal) not doing it's job in the run up to the war?
    You, and your colleagues, FAILED to ask the hard questions (softballs don't count) FAILED to scrutinize the information you were fed (um... and how about those Pentagon military advisors who were part of the propaganda push? You ever going to do a follow up piece on that?) and basically FAILED to do your job.
    I'm always amazed that, despite being on the air 24 hours, how little serious information you guys actually put out.
    Yes, Wolf, that means "that the 4,000-plus American troops killed in Iraq and the hundreds of billions of dollars spent were for naught." Haven't you figured that out by now?
    And some of the responsibility for this disaster is YOURS.

    May 28, 2008 05:22 pm at 5:22 pm |
  17. Carrie Pa

    Its time for the Congress to start the impeachment process.

    May 28, 2008 05:23 pm at 5:23 pm |
  18. Pat M

    Wolf I think most Americans and most of the citizens of the World believe this statement to be true. "Does that mean that the 4,000-plus American troops killed in Iraq and the hundreds of billions of dollars spent were for naught?"

    I don't believe McClellan is alone in this thought.

    May 28, 2008 05:23 pm at 5:23 pm |
  19. SLIM

    as a Canadian i'd like to say to the American people that it is most tragic how your presidential system, which you consider to be so "ideal" of a system, can allow 8 years of useless incompetents like bush, cheney, rumsfeld to ruin America's reputation and prestige internationally. The majority of people around the world will commend McClellan's most accurate trashing of bush and his cronies who are nothing short o disgraceful.

    May 28, 2008 05:24 pm at 5:24 pm |
  20. jaded in ohio

    The other "big revelation" in the book is that the Press (yes, YOU, CNN, FOX, nyTimes, etc.) failed us americans after 9/11 and wore the lapel pin supporting this bogus war in Iraq.

    May 28, 2008 05:25 pm at 5:25 pm |
  21. Tom in CA

    When it comes to "… the Bush administration…being mired in propaganda and political spin and at times playing loose with the truth…" that's a no brainer. Anyone with critical thinking can see that.

    The question is – Can the American people see that a McCain administration will do the same things when it comes to economic policy, to the war in Iraq, to the war in Afghanistan, etc., etc., etc.?

    Least we not forget that McCain's 1st term = Bush's 3rd term!!!

    May 28, 2008 05:25 pm at 5:25 pm |
  22. Linda

    The information in this book is not a revelation. Scott is no different from Colin Powell lying to the whole world at the UN. Bush/Cheney were the architects of the war but Colin Powell sold it hook line and sinker. His creditability was the clincher. Point is there were many accomplices to the instigation of the war. But all of that is moot.

    I wanna know where all these ‘Yes We Can’ Obamanites were. The ones in the ‘Red States’. The “Party” in charge being Republican did not act on their own volition to call to task ALL of this admin’s lies and treasons. They didn’t have to. Their constituent base in their home states were not calling for it. It was all for one and one for all’ for the “Party”. They... the American voter had the power to call for ‘change’. But they didn’t.

    Where were all these ‘engaged new voters’ when men and women were being sent to war? They were at home waiting on their turn to vote on the new American Idol…Obama.

    The American people are as much at fault as anyone. Bush on down could not have gotten away with had the latte lovers not allowed it.

    McCain and Obama want to keep us there. Clinton has plans to bring our troops home.

    May 28, 2008 05:26 pm at 5:26 pm |
  23. Steve from California

    It is a significant betrayal isn't it? McClellan's book coming out while Bush is still in office and just before a general election will more than raise eyebrows. John McCain's support of the war will now be even more difficult to sidestep. I feel the timing of this book's release is just what the doctor ordered for divided Democrats.

    May 28, 2008 05:26 pm at 5:26 pm |
  24. Mike, Syracuse NY

    proud army and navy mom., As a veteran myself, I applaud your children for their service. It's just too bad they are serving to protect the freedom of speach of someone who so often abuses it with hateful drivel.

    May 28, 2008 05:26 pm at 5:26 pm |
  25. Phil-Little Rock

    Listen, is it any surprise? Really??

    The man's conscience got to him finally and he had to do something about it. Writing a book is kinda specious, I admit, but most people do for things like this.

    I'm glad he came out about the lies and deception. It shows that people on the outside aren't the only ones thinking what he's confirmed with this book.

    GO (to Hell) Bush!!

    May 28, 2008 05:26 pm at 5:26 pm |
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