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. matt

    Its only 10% his fault we got into this war, 90% lays on the medias shoulders for selling these lies to the American people. You are more at fault wolf then Mr.whitehouse Porkypig.

    May 28, 2008 06:42 pm at 6:42 pm |
  2. A Girl from SC

    McClellan is doing this for the money. It has to be.
    Can he be charged with slander if in fact he has false statements written in his book.
    For McClellan to write a book on our sitting President is cruel on his part.

    To find out that this book is in fact true and know that 4,000-plus American troops killed in Iraq and the hundreds of billions of dollars spent is a disgrace.

    May 28, 2008 06:44 pm at 6:44 pm |
  3. Dori in AZ

    Wolf,

    VERY likely that the 4,000-plus American troops killed in Iraq and the hundreds of billions of dollars spent were for naught.... And, now, our country and individual families are suffering for our extraordinary collective loss of life and wasted expense.

    And, we're still there. Being wounded. Dying. Going into debt while the middle eastern countries that owe us deny us reasonable prices for oil. And, our paper tiger of a president pretends to be in control.

    It is what it is.

    May 28, 2008 06:46 pm at 6:46 pm |
  4. Terrence (Winston Salem, NC)

    There should have BEEN someone from this administration to come out LONG before now. How did we boot Clinton for his affair (in which the only thing affected was his marriage), but we let Bush remain in office after 4000 American deaths??

    May 28, 2008 06:48 pm at 6:48 pm |
  5. voter

    Wolf:

    You've been blathering 24/7 so long you can't remember what time it is! This is not big news, unless, of course, CNN says it is. And they say it is because they have to keep coming up with some kind of crap day after day, night after night. Give it a rest, Wolf.

    May 28, 2008 06:48 pm at 6:48 pm |
  6. Robert, Miami, FL

    There is a "code of professionalism"... misleadingly thought of as part of some kind of personal business ethic... that you should never criticize your former employer.

    In this case, that only serves to protect some big mistakes from public recognition and protect the perpetrators from accountability. It's time we called an exposé "an act of courage" instead of sour grapes.

    May 28, 2008 06:48 pm at 6:48 pm |
  7. Jim in FL

    McClellan needs to go back to doing what he does best .... pound donuts.

    May 28, 2008 06:49 pm at 6:49 pm |
  8. Chris 2

    Golly, Wolf Blitzer knows a lot about history. His insight, high moral tone, and profound knowledge qualilfy him for the presidency. On that other hand, that's true of all the other media personalities too, isn't it?

    May 28, 2008 06:49 pm at 6:49 pm |
  9. Ostriches burying our heads in the sand

    Fred 2 writes "We the people told you that years ago Wolf…when are you going to start listening to us about Obama!"

    How does Obama's name come up here? If anything, BO had the brains to figure out early on that this war was not being fought for the right reasons!!!

    May 28, 2008 06:54 pm at 6:54 pm |
  10. HILLARY HAS THE POPULAR VOTE!!!!!!

    MAYBE TOM REZKO WILL WRITE A BOOK IN PRISON ABOUT HIS SAUDI MONEY LAUNDERING WITH OBAMA!!!!

    THAT WOULD BE INTERESTING!!

    May 28, 2008 06:54 pm at 6:54 pm |
  11. Daniel Guest

    High crimes and misdemeanors? Most of the American people have known for a long time our president is at minimum negligent in his job. Haliburton? Who was the CEO? Impeach all of them now.

    May 28, 2008 06:55 pm at 6:55 pm |
  12. Mara

    This is news? This is a surprise? And who do you think the complicit press is?

    May 28, 2008 06:57 pm at 6:57 pm |
  13. leonardo

    This is no surprise -- 4,000 American lives have been lost for a war that should never have occurred. It was about time that someone from the inside came out and told the truth. Bush was playing us the entire time.

    What is even more shameful is the role that CNN as the 'unbiased reporter' played during this sham. And now it is trying to profit on another 'Big Story' but still not telling us the whole truth. Has CNN ever told us how many total lives have been lost in this war? BBC estimates anywhere from 100,000 to 200,000 innocent Iraqi civilians have been killed. Of course CNN would never mention that. That would be too controversial and so unpopular. The milestone to make the headlines was that the American death toll has reached 4,000. Although substantial, this pales in comparison to the true cost of this war and the number of lives lost. We lost 3,000 American lives in a heartless act of terrorism during 9/11 and it has scarred this nation. How would you feel if another nation came into our land, took innocent lives and claimed that is was for their national security. How would you feel if you lost loved ones under the pretext of 'freedom'. I would never forgive that country.

    The Bush Administration should be charged for genocide in Iraq and putting our troops unnecessarily in harms way.

    May 28, 2008 06:59 pm at 6:59 pm |
  14. NickNasc

    I always thought growing up that the Press kept their eyes on EVERYONE and couldn't WAIT to find the truth and bring it to the people. Remember Watergate? The two reporters who dug and dug and FOUND the TRUTH and brought it out into the open and changed History??

    I see those values in the profession are no longer rewarded or sought out.

    I think it is time to review who owns and controls the media sources and get to the bottom of why the truth is hidden from us all.

    Not ONE reporter even thought to follow up on any of the questions asked of Hillary even when she simply felt comfortable enough to LAUGH in their Faces. (the 800K)

    This is a shame.

    May 28, 2008 07:01 pm at 7:01 pm |
  15. Revard

    This proves Scott will do anything for a few bucks. If you think the Republicans have messed up wait until the Democrats have a go at it. Where will the first dirty bomb go off? New York ? where?
    Bush will be a hero in a few years.

    May 28, 2008 07:03 pm at 7:03 pm |
  16. hmmm

    i smell wrongful death suits

    May 28, 2008 07:05 pm at 7:05 pm |
  17. Jeremy - Colorado

    Good for McClellan. It's high time people started being straight up about this war. Every Marine I know who's served over there has had anything good to say about it. Not to mention the hit that the economy has taken with it all. There is a direct correlation with the war efforts, the national debt (which has tripled in Bush's administration), and gas prices. And now $4 gas is sending inflation through the roof. Get rid of him now and put Obama in. No reason to wait for November if he's going to win anyway.

    May 28, 2008 07:07 pm at 7:07 pm |
  18. Brien

    PLEASE PLEASE PLEASE CNN DO NOT DROP THE BALL ON THIS!!!! You are looking possibly the biggest story of this Presidency. It has ramafications in the election. STAY ON THIS AND STAY ON POINT!!!

    May 28, 2008 07:12 pm at 7:12 pm |
  19. Y Lee

    This former press secretary must be anticipating a change of parties in the Whitehouse and is using the allegations to help him prepare for a future position in media.

    May 28, 2008 07:12 pm at 7:12 pm |
  20. Pam

    Wolf, the loss related to this war is unbelievably devastating: primarily to the Iraqi and American families, the coalition, and our country; we will never be the same again. Perhaps, this book will provide the impetus to take our country down a different path from the current doomed one.

    May 28, 2008 07:12 pm at 7:12 pm |
  21. Joshua College Station Texas

    "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.”"

    Scott, I am not a WH press secretary, but as a common citizen, I agree completely. The public was sold propaganda rather than communicated honest and candid truths about Iraq and war. It was clear to me through the entire process that the reasoning for going to war was not based on any sort of ethical or moral foundation that could continue to motivate the public in a favorable and positive way. Rather it was founded on false claims and weakly connected half-truths that didn't have the logical or moral power to arouse the inner sense of identity and support for the cause. The American public ultimately strongly supported our participation in WWI and WWII, for example, because we knew what was at stake and we believed it was right to fight. It was clear then that the U.S. was morally justified in participating because we were defending ourselves and others. Iraq has never "felt right". Our leaders have consistently used fear, anger, and misinformation about Iraq's connection to al Qaeda to tell us the war is warranted.

    May 28, 2008 07:12 pm at 7:12 pm |
  22. DA

    I will take some new blood in the White any day over McCain or Clinton.
    The folks on here that don't want to see Obama in office are just ready for the same ole stuff we've had for the last 8 years!!!

    Let us not for get Hillary and McCain were lock stock and barrel with Bush on this war!!!

    McCain really shouldn't be the GOP nominee any way his wife just so happen to bail him out when the funds got tight. I mean think about it what Conservative really want someone like him in office?

    Time for a Change in Politics and the mindset of how Washington operates!!!
    Obama 08!!!

    May 28, 2008 07:14 pm at 7:14 pm |
  23. MBFLA

    Now will Congress perhaps consider following through on its oath of office, get this guy under oath and get the impeachment hearings under way?

    May 28, 2008 07:16 pm at 7:16 pm |
  24. Dealt

    Plenty of people hinted at what McClellan has written. Namely that Bush seemed determined to go to war on Iraq whatever the evidence. The question was why. Was it because the war industry could boost the economy? Because it could secure plenty of oil? Or because his father was sometimes criticized for not having deposed Saddam before? Did he want to try the compact in-and-out small army concept?

    One thing Rendell got absolutely right... President Bush has “always been an instinctive leader more than an intellectual leader”. Don't forget he was rhe one that looked into Putin's eyes and saw his soul...

    May 28, 2008 07:16 pm at 7:16 pm |
  25. For the first time I feel really safe . . .

    . . . with Obama. He wouldn't do anything in the White House. He would just be "present."

    May 28, 2008 07:16 pm at 7:16 pm |
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