President Bush, Karl Rove, and other top administration officials were “involved” in misleading the White House press corps about the outing of ex-CIA agent Valerie Plame, a forthcoming book from former Press Secretary Scott McClellan alleges.
Entitled What Happened, the new tell-all features McClellan’s account of his days as the White House’s top spokesman — including a behind-the-scenes look at the Bush administration’s handling of the Plame affair, according to a tantalizing excerpt from the book released on its publisher’s website.
“The most powerful leader in the world had called upon me to speak on his behalf and help restore credibility he lost amid the failure to find weapons of mass destruction in Iraq,” writes McClellan. “So I stood at the White house briefing room podium in front of the glare of the klieg lights for the better part of two weeks and publicly exonerated two of the senior-most aides in the White House: Karl Rove and Scooter Libby.”
But his press performances weren’t based on the facts, McClellan continues.
“There was one problem. It was not true,” he writes. “I had unknowingly passed along false information. And five of the highest ranking officials in the administration were involved in my doing so: Rove, Libby, the vice President, the President’s chief of staff, and the president himself.”
McClellan conducted a number of often-heated press events centering on Plame. In one September 2003 briefing, he expressly denied Rove’s involvement in the matter.
“I’ve made it very clear, from the beginning, that it is totally ridiculous,” said McClellan at the time. “I’ve known Karl for a long time, and I didn’t even need to go ask Karl, because I know the kind of person that he is, and he is someone that is committed to the highest standards of conduct.”
Later, in an October 10 press conference the same year, McClellan said that Rove, Vice President Dick Cheney’s former chief of staff Scooter Libby, and another senior administration staffer had all denied being connected to the leaking of Plame’s name.
“I spoke with those individuals, as I pointed out,” said McClellan, “and those individuals assured me they were not involved in this. And that’s where it stands.
The new book also touches on other key Bush events and policy decisions, including the war in Iraq and the handling of Hurricane Katrina. “With unprecedented candor, one of George W. Bush’s closest aides takes readers behind the scenes of the Bush presidency, and what exactly happened to take it off course,” states a publicity blurb. “He gives readers a candid look into who George W. Bush is and what he believes, and into the personalities, strengths, and liabilities of his top aides. Finally, McClellan looks to the future, exploring the lessons this presidency offers the American people as we prepare to elect a new leader.”