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

Blitzer: Most explosive charges I can remember

[cnn-photo-caption image= caption="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. dusty

    Remember All the President's Men? When Ben Bradley
    says the Nixon people were making non-denial denials?
    They are NOT saying "That's a lie!"
    Today we see Bush's people, and the press parroting
    it, saying "We're puzzled. That's not the Scott I
    knew." or "Why complain now if he didn't then?"
    As if either makes any difference in that the
    president lied, and so did most of his men. We were
    sold a needless immoral war, and those who stood in
    the way, were maligned. All maligners were pardoned
    or protected.
    Who the heck cares if Scott is pissed about losing
    his job or thrilled about it? Does that change
    This is the same song we heard from the remaining
    living Nixon staff about who Deep Throat was. What a
    lousy traitor–NOT the president or his men, but the
    man who said what they were doing.
    Why isn't the press pointing this out?
    It reminds me of how the press continues to play
    around with Hillary's statements that she has the
    popular vote, or is ahead (somehow, somewhere), and
    feels picked upon and bullied by the press. They keep
    covering her speeches and talking about how she could
    still win.

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

    "McClellan ... says the war in Iraq was a blunder... Does that mean that the 4,000-plus American troops killed in Iraq and the hundreds of billions of dollars spent were for naught?"

    Of course that's what it means, but because we "support the troops but oppose the war," we're unwilling or unable to grasp this uncomfortable truth. Their lives, and all that money, have been utterly wasted.

    May 28, 2008 07:20 pm at 7:20 pm |
  3. sam from missouri

    I lived through Nixon and his lies and now i have to live through Bush and his lies....lay down with dogs you wake with fleas....the white house is full of fleas...i pity BUSH because you should always pity the fool...4000 men Viet Nam we lost more....keep doing the same thing expecting different results Einstein said is the trait of being insane...America we are insane,,,makes you kind of sad..I am a vet..I AM AN AMERICAN...i am sad for us all

    May 28, 2008 07:20 pm at 7:20 pm |
  4. km

    This is important because he has known Bush since the early days of Texas and had intimate knowledge of the back room stuff at the white house. His scathing report packs a whallop.

    May 28, 2008 07:22 pm at 7:22 pm |
  5. Pam

    Scott McClellan is a free man! His tortured soul has been released after working for one of the most twisted administrations in the history of the United States. All of the news media need to just stop with their surprised inquiry. The truth is that the media was lead down the path years ago by this administration to drum up public support for an unjust war and search for WMD. The administration has moved from searching for WMD; hunting down Sadam; to bringing democracy to Iraq. We are now in the role of supporting peace keeping with our military on 2-4 rotations in Iraq until their new government can establish itself to once again run the country under a new regime. This administration is just unbelievable!

    May 28, 2008 07:24 pm at 7:24 pm |
  6. cornelius

    How is this book possibly news? It's what half of this country has known for years; that we followed this administration into war like lemmings off a cliff. I can't believe that once the wmd's were not found, we didn't have more of a public out cry. This administration knows how apathetic this nation can be, and they used it to goat us into an unnecessary war without taking responsibility for any of the consequences of their actions.

    "A democracy is nothing more than mob rule, where fifty-one percent of the people may take away the rights of the other forty-nine"

    -thomas jefferson

    May 28, 2008 07:25 pm at 7:25 pm |
  7. hrao

    the guy wants to make a buck – why not? halliburton is.

    May 28, 2008 07:25 pm at 7:25 pm |
  8. Sara

    We all know that McClelland is telling the truth. This adminstration has done nothing but lies and decieve the people. Never accepts blame for anything just covers it with lies again! Bush should truly be impeached.

    May 28, 2008 07:25 pm at 7:25 pm |
  9. McMillan Vanquest

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


    Anyone who has not come to that conclusion as of yet is a brain dead numskull.

    May 28, 2008 07:27 pm at 7:27 pm |
  10. Tom in Ohio

    I find the bitterness expressed by some a sad thing...bitterness is poison in the heart of man. Lay aside the bitterness and negative emotions and attempt to look at this with reason and fairness. Anyone who believes fault lies with only with one party, person, or group is biased and is incapable of intellectual honesty.. I suspect that some of what S.M. said is true, some is jaded, some is speculation and some is false.

    May 28, 2008 07:28 pm at 7:28 pm |
  11. Miguel from Brazil

    Very interesting way of selecting a president, from the Country that broadcasts Democracy to the World. In 2004, the president that most Americans chose was not elected because of "rules". A person voting in Florida is more important than one voting anywhere else? Democracy???

    In Brazil, if you are from Sao Paulo or Rio or Fortaleza or Porto Alegre you count as anyone: ONE vote.

    The guy with the bigger number of votes (nationwide) wins. No seating delegates, direct election. I appologise if the rules are too simple for you guys.


    May 28, 2008 07:30 pm at 7:30 pm |
  12. end game

    The press during the last 8 years has been impotent. I cannot believe these people call themselves journalists. THIS IS THE TIME THE PRESS NEEDS TO STEP UP FOR THE GOOD OF THE COUNTRY. PUT EVERYTHING YOU HAVE INTO EXPOSING THIS PERSIDENTIAL DISASTER, FOR HISTORY"S SAKE, AND THE SAKE OF OUR CHILDREN.


    May 28, 2008 07:32 pm at 7:32 pm |

    Since our Democrats in office are afraid of the Republicans and the media, I believe this is one of the reasons they do not want Hillary Clinton in the White House. Nancy Pelosi took impeachment off the table, but Hillary Clinton will lock up everyone in this administration if she gets into office. George Bush and his "buddies" have committed crimes that we are not even aware of yet. And the crimes that we are aware have been "overlooked" by our elected Democrats. We need leaders that are fighters. If the Democrats would unite around Hillary, SHE WILL GET THE JOB DONE!!


    May 28, 2008 07:34 pm at 7:34 pm |
  14. jason

    it's funny they keep saying "this isn't the guy we knew" instead of "his book is false."

    May 28, 2008 07:36 pm at 7:36 pm |
  15. Agnostic Democrat

    Please notice the press and CNN ignoring the allegations about them not having done their jobs!!! They still aren't and never will take responsibility for their conspiratory role in marching us to war!!! McSham, McBush, McCNN and McClellan all cut from the same dirty cloth!!!

    May 28, 2008 07:36 pm at 7:36 pm |
  16. McCain is not Bush

    CNN–your network today had a segment about how McCain differs from Bush.

    Please post the highlights of this segment.

    McCain is not Bush. He shouldn't be blamed for what Bush did.

    McCain is a moderate Republican, a centrist.

    CNN, please post this and stop deleting my comments. Thank you.

    May 28, 2008 07:37 pm at 7:37 pm |
  17. Jane Vollmer

    It would have been nice to have this on video

    May 28, 2008 07:37 pm at 7:37 pm |
  18. Raz

    We need a Change ASAP.


    May 28, 2008 07:38 pm at 7:38 pm |
  19. Jane Vollmer

    This should have been on video like MSNBC does

    May 28, 2008 07:39 pm at 7:39 pm |
  20. Duane,WA

    CNN you knew this war was a fake from the start...But because your network is spinless and without backbone you didn't speak out

    May 28, 2008 07:39 pm at 7:39 pm |
  21. truth is gold

    This isn't news, its common knowledge for those who can read between the lines. Now no one has too!

    May 28, 2008 07:43 pm at 7:43 pm |
  22. lovable liberal

    God, Wolf, where have you been? All of this has been well known for a long time. Is it only credible to you because it comes from a Republican source? Wake up.

    May 28, 2008 07:44 pm at 7:44 pm |
  23. Vig

    This is the very reason all men and women who consider joining the military to supposedly fight for their country, need to explore whether they are only going to be used as political pawns in an evil administration such as the Bush administration has turned out to be.

    May 28, 2008 07:46 pm at 7:46 pm |
  24. Bill from Floyd

    How sad. Even those who told the lies now are admitting that they were lying. I wonder how Dana Perino who is now the voice of lies and the others can face themselves in the mirror but I guess I know. Bush, his administration and Republicans in general are delusional. The great majority don't think they have never done anything wrong. It is difficult to see how we will heal the divisions in this country when a large portion of the population could be reasonably considered to be completely removed from reality and amoral. They don't seem to know right from wrong, and think that torture is ok, that lying is ok, that the non-defined ends justify any means. Some way must be found to convince Republicans that for all their 'values' propaganda, they are not above the law. Bush's approval ratings among Republicans clearly show that they still believe they are above the law by a sizable majority. Their consensus reality is not that of America and frankly, their ability not to understand that frightens me and makes me worry about the future of the country.

    May 28, 2008 07:46 pm at 7:46 pm |
  25. belvno

    Why is so surprising? Isn't is about time that someone told the truth?

    May 28, 2008 07:49 pm at 7:49 pm |
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