President Bush veered “terribly off course” and pursued an aggressive “propaganda campaign” which obscured the truth in selling the Iraq war to the American public, according to his former White House press secretary.
In a new book, Scott McClellan said the likely verdict of history would be that “the decision to invade Iraq was a serious strategic blunder”, adding: “War should only be waged when necessary, and the Iraq war was not necessary.”
He accused Mr Bush of managing “the crisis in a way that almost guaranteed that the use of force would become the only feasible option” — while also failing to be “open and forthright” about the reasons for military action.
The White House spokeswoman Dana Perino said yesterday: “Scott, we now know, is disgruntled about his experience in the White House. For those of us who fully supported him before, during and after his time as press secretary, this is puzzling and sad. This is not the Scott we knew.”
Mr Bush, she added, had more pressing matters with which to deal than comment on Mr McClellan’s 341-page book, entitled: What Happened: Inside the Bush White House and Washington’s Culture of Deception. Indeed, there was astonishment in Washington yesterday that a man who served Mr Bush with intense loyalty for seven years should have turned on the President with such venom.
In his time as press secretary Mr McClellan was regarded widely as a likeable, if somewhat hapless, member of a tight inner circle of advisers — the so-called “Texas mafia”. When he left the White House in 2006 Mr Bush even promised that there would come a time when they would be both “rocking on chairs in Texas, talking about the good old days” as he assured his departing aide: “I will feel the same way then that I feel now [and] that I can say to Scott, ‘Job well done’.”