Ex-Press Secretary's Book Bashes Bush

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A former top White House spokesman is unleashing some harsh crtiicism about President Bush and the Iraq War.

Former White House Press Secretary Scott McClellan blasts his former boss in his memoir "What Happened: Inside the Bush White House and Washington's Culture of Deception." The book is scheduled to go on sale June 1.

For more on the fall out from McClellen's book, hear Ethics Guide Bruce Weinstein, from Businessweek.com.

In it McClellan claims the Bush Administration made "a decision to turn away from candor and honesty when those qualities were most needed."

He says the President was not "open and forthright" on Iraq and rushed to war with "inadequate planning and preparation for its aftermath."

"In the permanent campaign era, it was all about manipulating sources of public opinion to the President's advantage," McClellan writes.

He now says the Iraq war 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," the Politico.com quotes from the book. The political news site bought an advance copy of the book.

On Hurricane Katrina, McClellan says the White House was in a "state of denial" for most of the first week after the storm.

"One of the worst disasters in our nation's history became one of the biggest disasters in Bush's presidency. Katrina and the botched federal response to it would largely come to define Bush's second term," he writes.

The White House Reacts

White House aides seemed stunned by the scathing tone of McClellan's book.

"Scott, we now know, is disgruntled about his experience at the White House," Bush press secretary Dana Perino said. "For those of us who fully supported him, before, during and after he was press secretary, we are puzzled. It is sad - this is not the Scott we knew."

Perino said that she did not expect the President to comment on the book.

"He has more pressing matters than to spend time commenting on books by former staffers," she said.

McClellan and Bush

McClellan, who was Bush's press secretary from July 2003 to April 2006, was once considered one of Bush's most loyal aides. He began working for then Texas Gov. Bush in early 1999. He then became chief deputy to Press Secretary Ari Fleischer at the beginning of Bush's first term.

Politico.com also says the book makes clear that McClellan believes Bush was also a victim of misinformation.

"I still like and admire President Bush," McClellan writes. "But he and his 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. … In this regard, he was terribly ill-served by his top advisers, especially those involved directly in national security."

McClellan admits that some of his own words as press secretary turned out to be "badly misguided." But he says he was sincere at the time.

"I fell far short of living up to the kind of public servant I wanted to be," McClellan writes.

Sources: Politico.com, The Associated Press

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