Below The Beltway

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Now, The Truth Starts To Come Out

by @ 8:31 am on May 28, 2008. Filed under George W Bush, Iraq, Politics, Scott McClellan

In what I’m sure will be the first of many incidents, former White House Press Secretary Scott McClellan is out with a book that lifts the veil on the inner workings of the Bush Administration:

Former White House press secretary Scott McClellan writes in a new memoir that the Iraq war was sold to the American people with a sophisticated “political propaganda campaign” led by President Bush and aimed at “manipulating sources of public opinion” and “downplaying the major reason for going to war.”

McClellan includes the charges in a 341-page book, “What Happened: Inside the Bush White House and Washington’s Culture of Deception,” that delivers a harsh look at the White House and the man he served for close to a decade. He describes Bush as demonstrating a “lack of inquisitiveness,” says the White House operated in “permanent campaign” mode, and admits to having been deceived by some in the president’s inner circle about the leak of a CIA operative’s name.

The book, coming from a man who was a tight-lipped defender of administration aides and policy, is certain to give fuel to critics of the administration, and McClellan has harsh words for many of his past colleagues. He accuses former White House adviser Karl Rove of misleading him about his role in the CIA case. He describes Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice as being deft at deflecting blame, and he calls Vice President Cheney “the magic man” who steered policy behind the scenes while leaving no fingerprints.

McClellan stops short of saying that Bush purposely lied about his reasons for invading Iraq, writing that he and his subordinates were not “employing out-and-out deception” to make their case for war in 2002.

But in a chapter titled “Selling the War,” he alleges that the administration repeatedly shaded the truth and that Bush “managed the crisis in a way that almost guaranteed that the use of force would become the only feasible option.”

“Over that summer of 2002,” he writes, “top Bush aides had outlined a strategy for carefully orchestrating the coming campaign to aggressively sell the war. . . . In the permanent campaign era, it was all about manipulating sources of public opinion to the president’s advantage.”

If “marketing the war” isn’t another term for misleading the public, I don’t know what is.

Throughout 2002 and leading up to the invasion of Iraq in March 2003, the Bush Administration told us that we needed to invade Iraq because Saddam Hussein was stockpiling WMDs. When that turned out to be untrue, long after the invasion had taken place of course, it was blamed on faulty intelligence, but the reality seems to be that there was a public reason for war (WMDs), and a private one that involved a neo-con crusade to remake the Middle East. Obviously, the American public never would have supported the war if it’s sole goal was to make the Middle East “safe for democracy” (a goal which has utterly and completely failed, by the way), so, instead the Administration concentrated on another issue entirely to “sell” the war.

The fact that they turned out to be entirely wrong seems to be lost on many on the right, as McClellan notes in what should be the Quote of the Day:

“History appears poised to confirm what most Americans today have decided: that the decision to invade Iraq was a serious strategic blunder. No one, including me, can know with absolute certainty how the war will be viewed decades from now when we can more fully understand its impact. What I do know is that war should only be waged when necessary, and the Iraq war was not necessary.”

I couldn’t have said it better myself.

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