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. J.W. of Mississippi

    Wolf Biltzer, you & your media pals are just as guilty as Bush and his administration. Even today you still engage in soundbite & got-ya journalism. You spend more time trying to create news in the form of some non issue/manufactured disagreement or difference of opinion than you do asking the kind of questions that could have saved 4,000+ lives. Wolf, next to those idiots on FOX you are the worst. Sir! you are not fit to be a real Journalist's copy boy.
    STOP TALKING ABOUT THE MESSAGE AND EXAMINE THE MESSAGE.

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

    WOW!! Thank god for Scott! People have been saying this for sooooo long. John McCain is running the main part of his campaign on a lie. right now the truth will help Obama get to the White, so we can bring our brave men and women home. Not one more life needs to be lost! The Bush administration needs to be brought up on charges. We need to see the whole group of them in handcuffs!

    May 28, 2008 05:29 pm at 5:29 pm |
  3. barb, seattle WA

    We all know how biased old Wolfie is..................he should eat the Scott book and interview with a spoon...........trouble is, he won't take the time to hear out the other side of the story. Ask Scott this: If it was so awful in the White House why did he stay so long?

    May 28, 2008 05:29 pm at 5:29 pm |
  4. david,baltimore,mamryland

    THE Bush machine made a big mistake when threw McClelland under the bus in the Valerie Plame matter.They fed him a raft of lies and had him look like a fool when he told them to the press.With an approval rating that is historically low,it will not take much for people to be convinced that the book is true and that Bush has allowed himself to be hornswoggled by the biggest group of corrupt ideological bankrupt buffoons to ever advise a president.Fortunately Bush is too stupid to be corrupt and actaully believed his role as messianic saviour of the free world or at least cheap oil.
    There is no doubt that Bush would have attemtpted to institute martial law in this country if all of our troops were not overseas looking for WMD.

    May 28, 2008 05:29 pm at 5:29 pm |
  5. Linda of Atlanta

    Go ahead and defame the messenger! Why didn't McClellan speak out earlier? He didn't because he would have been attacked then as he is being attacked now. Nobody has been able to confront or criticize this administration without being crucified.

    May 28, 2008 05:29 pm at 5:29 pm |
  6. P.A. VOTER

    I think this is another example that McSame is willing to run into a nursery full of babies, blind folded, with a hammer after being told it's a room full of nails. This guy is Bush, older, and with less back bone. At least Bush's stupid ideas are somewhat his own. McSame is consistently on the wrong side of issues and this one has cost American's to many life and to much money.

    May 28, 2008 05:33 pm at 5:33 pm |
  7. Where Were YOU?

    Where were you, CNN, where was true investigative journalism when the WMDs were being touted as a reason to go to war? I remember saying to my friends, "By God, he better find those WMDs!" He didn't, but CNN just kept on reporting the junk coming out of the White House and Pentagon. There no longer is such a thing as investigative journalism, because that's actually very hard to do. Today it's all he-said, she-said tabloid garbage, with this-and-that "expert" spinning it this way and that way. And don't even try to tell me that Anderson Cooper is any different. However - CNN, you are not alone. All of the media stinks! Look at the current campaing. It's not about issues - it's about "popularity" and glib soundbites. If the media wants to be the fourth (albeit unelected) branch of government, I suggest it cultivate some sense of responsibility in "digging" for the truth.

    May 28, 2008 05:34 pm at 5:34 pm |
  8. britney spears

    I'm shocked by his accusations. Shocked and awed!!!

    May 28, 2008 05:35 pm at 5:35 pm |
  9. Extinct

    How about this? Obama represents the Democratic party. Done deal McCain is a lame duck, so he's got to be replaced immediately as the Republican candidate. Hillary becomes the Republican candidate. She used to be a Republican anyway. This way we can have a head-to-head, powerful, dynamic, authentic race for the U.S. presidency by the two best qualified candidates, Obama and Hillary.

    Obama represents the Democratic pary. Hillary represents the Republican party. McCain goes home, or Iraq, whichever he chooses.

    May 28, 2008 05:36 pm at 5:36 pm |
  10. Val, Atlanta, Ga

    It is what it is, he don't have to lie anymore he's not working there, I think thats the reason Colin Powell left he got tierd of lying for Bush. I think They need to hold him and Chaney accountable for war crimes and inpeach him, he has been a dam disgrace to the United States of America. And no McCain, do they think we are crazy, well some of us are.

    May 28, 2008 05:38 pm at 5:38 pm |
  11. Murry - Arizona

    I don't think for 1 minute that McClellan is alone in this thought either. I just can't believe that Bush has not been impeached or that the entire Bush administration has not been held accountable for everything that has gone wrong with this country. I even think that little miss Dana Perino is not telling all either for fear of political ramifications.

    May 28, 2008 05:39 pm at 5:39 pm |
  12. C!

    HAHAHAHA! FUNNY STUFF! GOOO MCCLELLAN!

    DEMS `08!!!

    May 28, 2008 05:42 pm at 5:42 pm |
  13. rafael

    4000+ and counting only in America,what a perfect country,time will
    tell Americans time will tell,it!s time for American to save USA
    and if you Guys could do something more try to help the world too
    thanks

    May 28, 2008 05:43 pm at 5:43 pm |
  14. mel

    wolf get this story out because mccain somehow
    wii continues this mess as but he want be as good
    as the he's trying to replace. With it will be about the
    war only.Most of your politics do not have kids in the
    war,this out to the republican leader.Bush know were his kids are
    and his are not fighting a war,which Bush avoid by hiding
    in air national guard.Why didn't go to war in time of service
    which was out campaigning for family friend. Let talk about
    Mr.mccain.This is the modern service now Mccain,it is
    from when you were in service. Plus did not fight on the
    ground you were in the air,which you were shot down and
    trauma from your prisoner war beating. Yes, are a war hero
    and I respect you.But look how long ago and do you have
    ideal how ground war is fight. Bill Clinton did a good job and
    never service and he was this best president ever.You want
    be a good leader Mr.mccain,but good failure to this country
    which we american peoples love as well,you love iraq first
    Mr. Mccain. You the repeat of Bush 8years Of hell.

    May 28, 2008 05:45 pm at 5:45 pm |
  15. Nate Daniels

    Wolf, I seriously challenge you to critically analyze the history of the administration with respect to the Iraq war, people unexpectedly departing the administration, and people who were positive while on the job becoming negative once they were off the job. There is a pretty apparent pattern here that is far more news-worthy than whether or not Hillary will try to get the VP nod.

    May 28, 2008 05:48 pm at 5:48 pm |
  16. The Oracle of Delaware

    Hey Hillary is A Okay. I just finished playing 18 holes of golf. My opponent had me at the end of 15 holes, but I turned on the steam and on the 18th hole I made a birdie to his triple bogie. Now don't tell me nothing could happen. It did and it can.

    Go Hilliary beat this lying SOB who claims parentage to Bush, the King of England and his grand pappy the cook liberated all the Jews from concentration camps in 1945.

    Give me a break. obombus will say and do anything to win.

    May 28, 2008 05:49 pm at 5:49 pm |
  17. 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.

    By the way, can someone explain how the MOST powerful and technologically advanced military in the history of the world cannot effectively defeat a bunch of people running around in pajama type outfits, long beards, flip-flops and head scarves?

    May 28, 2008 05:53 pm at 5:53 pm |
  18. KYJurisDoctor

    I CANNOT wait to read about other CONFIRMED LIES the Bush administration has been feeding us as if it were slow acting hemlock!

    May 28, 2008 05:58 pm at 5:58 pm |
  19. PS

    Well, if I wanted to MAXIMIZE the $$ and perks from a book – I'd certainly release it in a Presidential election year when the pundits were HUNGRY for dirt... and then I'd get interviews and lots of fame...

    A tell-all once Bush is out of office won't get much attention....

    So, why should we believe McClellan?

    I believe that before we decided to invade Iraq –

    1) Britain, France, and many other countries all agreed that Iraq had WMD and posed a clear and present danger
    2) a senate committee reviewed the same intelligence briefings that Bush had – and they agreed with his findings...

    So enough – McClellan is making $$ -

    May 28, 2008 05:59 pm at 5:59 pm |
  20. Joe, Northern Virginia

    Do we really need someone to tell us all these to know the truth about the Iraq war? If anyone needs to be ashamed of him or herself then it should be those who voted for Bush over and over again. The blood of those 4000 plus soldiers are also on the heads of all those who voted for Bush not only during the first elections but the second one too. Now, people should let this be a lesson for them to vote wisely and not let the republicans use fear-mongering to influence their votes.

    May 28, 2008 06:00 pm at 6:00 pm |
  21. buddha

    ehlloo has he lost his memory, what about the charges the clintons are always making..

    ohh please blizter wake up
    the bush the clintons two families who will do anything YES INCLUDING LIE TO THE AMERICAN PEOPLE BY ALL MEANS NECSSARY.. TO GET TO POWER..

    SO PLEASE BLITZER REPORT ON REAL NEWS...WE KNOW YOU LOVE BILLARY..
    BUT WE HAD ENOUGH OF BUSHES AND CLINTONS THEY ARE LIARS.........AND DYNASTIES

    May 28, 2008 06:00 pm at 6:00 pm |
  22. George

    Wolf, the harshest that you were on your own profession is that "we could have done better." You could have done a better job of reporting by simply reading the news from AFP and other international media that were highly skepctical (to put it mildly) of the Bush Administration's claims. The US reporting on the issue was like an alternate reality compared to the international press.

    You all should be ashamed of yourselves.

    May 28, 2008 06:01 pm at 6:01 pm |
  23. Voice of Reason

    This is a joke, right? You didn't actually need McClellan to tell you that Bush was an out 'n' out liar and that the war in Iraq was unnecessary, wrong, unjust, and waged on the shoulders of a pack of lies, did you? This is a joke, right?

    May 28, 2008 06:04 pm at 6:04 pm |
  24. conservative

    Yeh Wolfie ;milk it for everything your liberal mind can believe or conjour up even if its not true or exaggerated ! We've got a large problem in this country of the press slanting everything to their own agenda!

    May 28, 2008 06:06 pm at 6:06 pm |
  25. Laughing at the frenzy

    ****************************************************************************

    WOW! I hope the frenzied comments are serving as healthy therapy! How many of you folks have READ this book yet?

    People, please do some critical thinking and don't just regurgitate Obama's talking points.

    ****************************************************************************

    May 28, 2008 06:08 pm at 6:08 pm |
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