Accuracy in Media

Former press secretary Scott McClellan remains concerned about what he calls “a cloud of suspicion over the White House,” particularly concerning the leak of undercover CIA operative Valerie Plame’s identity.

In his testimony before the House Judiciary Committee on June 19,
McClellan expressed his frustration over alleged leaks and cover-ups by
White House officials, and questioned the possible involvement of Vice
President Dick Cheney.

“I do not think the President had any knowledge,” said McClellan. “In terms of the Vice President, I do not know.”

The allegations at the time were that the administration released Plame’s identity as a backlash against husband Joseph Wilson’s critical op-ed in the New York Times, in which he chastised the White House for its Iraq policy.

However, McClellan provides no evidence to support his suspicions, either in his testimony or his new book, What Happened.

While there has been no conviction of the source of the leak that
jeopardized Plame’s undercover status, Bush administrative aide Scooter Libby was convicted of perjury and obstruction of justice following a Federal investigation of the incident.

A lawsuit brought to court by Plame’s family alleged further involvement by Cheney and White House aides Karl Rove and Richard Armitage, in addition to Libby. The case was dismissed.

Ranking committee member Rep. Lamar Smith (R-Tex) quickly raised concerns over McClellan’s motivation for writing
the book, intimating that money or dissatisfaction had soured
McClellan’s view.

“Mr. McClellan alone will have to wrestle with whether or not it was
worth it to sell out the President and his friends for a few pieces of
silver,” said Smith.

While questioning McClellan, Smith noted that McClellan had no actual
evidence or knowledge of any of the crimes alleged against the Bush
administration. He also challenged McClellan, asking that if these
crimes were committed, why the Press Secretary had never challenged the
actions of his fellow White House staff.

“The reason is clear,” said Smith. “There is nothing to object to.”

McClellan argued that the book was a service to the American people,
and his way of releasing all he knew during his time at the White House
to the general public.

“I made a commitment to share with the public what I knew as soon as possible,” said McClellan.

What McClellan’s book alleges is that the Bush administration used
misleading tactics on multiple occasions, be it the Valerie Plame
incident or the call for War in Iraq.

McClellan downplays his own part in the actions he condemns; during the
campaign for the War in Iraq, McClellan wrote that he “participated in,
though I didn’t play a major role in shaping it.”

Beyond the specific allegations that drew the concern of Committee Chairman John Conyers, Jr. (D-Mich) and other committee members, McClellan says his book has a
much broader message, one that chastises the current way politics are
managed in Washington.

“It is about restoring civility and bipartisanship and candor to our
national political discourse,” said McClellan. “It is about putting our
Nation’s interests above partisan goals.”

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