Former Bush insider blows the whistle

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By Rick Howell

“What I know is that war should only be waged when it is necessary, and the war in Iraq was not necessary.”

Those immortal words speak a truth that most Americans have long since discovered; we did not need to go to war in Iraq. There was no “threat from Iraq,” as we were repeatedly told in late 2002 and early 2003. America’s freedom was not at stake in ancient Mesopotamia.

Yet George W. Bush, Dick Cheney, Donald Rumsfeld, Condoleezza Rice, and sadly, Colin Powell, had already made up their minds: There would be a war in Iraq and they would do what they had to do and say what they had to say to get it started.

The “immortal words” above can be labeled so not because they came from liberal Democrats or war protesters. They came from none other than Scott McClellan, the former Bush White House Press Secretary who was part and parcel of the campaign of lies and other deceptions that got the war started.

Last week, details of McClellan’s book, “What Happened,” hit Washington and the nation like a bomb, one that could be described as nuclear in a political sense. All the worst things about the Bush White House and especially its precious war in Iraq - the things said by liberals like me - have been verified not by some left-wing fellow traveler, but by a White House insider who has been a confidant of the swaggering little Texan for decades.

Yep, they lied about the war. In fact, according to McClellan’s book, they didn’t just tell an occasional lie, but the entire case for the war was - and these are his words - a “propaganda campaign,” one that wasn’t seriously challenged by the so-called liberal media. McClelland even takes the media to task for not diligently investigating the pro-war hype put forth by his boss. (Strange thing for the “liberal media” to do, wasn’t it?)

That a White House insider has finally told the truth about the lies that led to the tragic war in Iraq is the main news item for many of us about this book. But for McClellan, that was only the start of what made him want to leave.

He was ordered to go before the press and say that neither Karl Rove nor Lewis “Scooter” Libby had anything to do with leaking the identity of CIA agent Valerie Plame. He only found out later that he’d lied, when none other than Bush himself admitted that he’d authorized the leak of that information.

(I’ve said before in this column that if Bill Clinton had ever leaked the identity of a CIA agent to the press, “national security” conservatives would have gone publicly insane, but when Bush did it, they remained silent.)

The wretched non-response to Hurricane Katrina, and McClellan’s own propaganda performances in regard to that, also bothered him. In short, McClellan appears to have slowly burned over having to go before the press - and of course the public -and repeatedly shovel the manure the White House was selling.

To the extent that they can, White House officials have tried to blunt this criticism by a sort of “we’re shocked and surprised” kind of reaction, but it won’t matter much. The truth has been confirmed by someone who not only witnessed it, but was a part of it. The Bush White House will be remembered as the absolute worst (“Worse than Nixon” as John Dean’s book put it) the country has ever had to endure. Those who helped put these people in power should hang their heads in shame.

Not to mentionee.John McCain’s job just became very much harder.

Rick Howell, a Bedford native, is a member of the Roanoke City Democratic Committee, and can be reached by e-mail at NewCenHowell@aol.com.