Former White House spokesman pans Bush

FORMER White House press secretary Scott McClellan charges in an explosive new book due out next week that US President George W Bush and top aides shaded the truth to make the case for the Iraq war.

McClellan, the first Bush insider to write a book criticising his former boss, drew instant fire last night from former White House colleagues with whom he was once close. They wondered why he stayed on the job if he had those feelings that he never expressed to them.

“If he thinks he’s going to ingratiate himself to his critics, he’s sorely mistaken, and unfortunately, the only friends he had, he just lost,” said Dan Bartlett, a former White House counsellor.

McClellan, in What Happened — Inside the Bush White House and Washington’s Culture of Deception, presents himself as a one-time Bush believer who mistakenly fell in line behind “the campaign to sell the war” in Iraq.

McClellan, who had argued strenuously from the White House podium on why the war was justified, wrote the decision to go to Iraq was a “fateful misstep”.

“What I do know is that war should only be waged when necessary, and the Iraq war was not necessary.” He also called Bush “a man of personal charm, wit, and enormous political skill”, and “plenty smart enough to be president”.

“The President had promised himself that he would accomplish what his father had failed to do by winning a second term in office,” McClellan wrote.

“And that meant operating continually in campaign mode, never explaining, never apologising, never retreating. Unfortunately, that strategy also had less justifiable repercussions: never reflecting, never reconsidering, never compromising.”

McClellan was also critical of the response to Hurricane Katrina, blaming former Bush senior adviser Karl Rove for Bush’s ill-fated Air Force One flyover of the wiped-out area.

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