Bush was not 'forthright' on Iraq, says ex-spokesperson

Former White House press secretary Scott McClellan says in a new book that United States President George Bush “veered terribly off course” and was not “open and forthright on Iraq,” Politico.com reported on Tuesday.

In the memoir due out next week, McClellan also says Bush relied on “propaganda” to sell the war and says the Washington press corps was too easy on the administration during the run-up to it, according to the website.

McClellan also takes the administration to task for its performance after Hurricane Katrina devastated New Orleans, saying the White House “spent most of the first week in a state of denial,” Politico reported.

According to the website, McClellan blames former Bush senior adviser Karl Rove for the photo of the president seen observing the disaster during an Air Force One flyover.

“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,” Politico quoted the book as saying.

McClellan’s 341-page book, titled What Happened: Inside the Bush White House and Washington’s Culture of Deception,” takes a much harsher tone than White House officials had expected from the president’s former aide, the website said.

The White House declined comment.

In the memoir, McClellan is said to claim that Rove and Lewis “Scooter” Libby, a former aide to Vice-President Dick Cheney, misled him about their role in the CIA leak case. Libby was convicted last year on charges related to the investigation into who blew the cover of former CIA analyst Valerie Plame, whose husband was an outspoken Iraq war critic.

McClellan served as White House press secretary from July 2003 to April 2006.
A long-time Bush loyalist and fellow Texan, he said that he still likes and admires the president and that Bush was ill-served by top advisors. - Reuters