McClellan implicates Bush, Cheney in Plame lie

Former White House press secretary says the president and vice president were involved in the false exoneration of Libby and Rove.

Topics: George W. Bush, Dick Cheney, War Room, Karl Rove,

On Oct. 10, 2003, White House press secretary Scott McClellan stood before the cameras and proclaimed Karl Rove and Scooter Libby innocent of any involvement in the outing of Valerie Plame. “Those individuals — I talked — I spoke with those individuals, as I pointed out, and those individuals assured me they were not involved in this. And that’s where it stands.”

And that’s where it stood, until — well after George W. Bush was reelected — it became clear that both Libby and Rove were very much involved in outing Plame. McClellan has since acknowledged, albeit implicitly, that Libby and Rove had lied to him. Now he seems ready to go much further. In “What Happened,” a chronicle of his years in the White House to be published this spring, McClellan will apparently implicate George W. Bush, Dick Cheney and former White House Chief of Staff Andy Card in the false exoneration of Libby and Rove.

From an excerpt posted on McClellan’s publisher’s Web site and discovered by Editor and Publisher:



“The most powerful leader in the world had called upon me to speak on his behalf and help restore credibility he lost amid the failure to find weapons of mass destruction in Iraq. So I stood at the White house briefing room podium in front of the glare of the klieg lights for the better part of two weeks and publicly exonerated two of the senior-most aides in the White House: Karl Rove and Scooter Libby.

“There was one problem. It was not true.

“I had unknowingly passed along false information. And five of the highest ranking officials in the administration were involved in my doing so: Rove, Libby, the vice president, the president’s chief of staff, and the president himself.”

Update: We’d like to tell you how Dana Perino responded to questions about McClellan’s charge at today’s White House press briefing. And we would, if only anyone in the White House press corps had asked her any.

Tim Grieve is a senior writer and the author of Salon's War Room blog.

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