Culture of Deception

From The Washington Post:

WHAT HAPPENED: Inside the Bush White House and Washington’s Culture of Deception by Scott McClellan.

Scott McClellan says the “defining moment in my time working for the president, and one of the most painful experiences of my life,” occurred in July 2005, when he discovered that what he had told the press two years earlier — that Karl Rove and Lewis Libby were not involved in “the leaking of classified information” about Valerie Plame, Wilson’s wife — was untrue. “I had unknowingly passed along false information,” he writes. “And five of the highest-ranking officials in the administration were involved in my doing so: Rove, Libby, Vice President Cheney, the president’s chief of staff Andrew Card, and the president himself.” Upon learning this, he felt “constrained by my duties and loyalty to the president and unable to comment. But I promised reporters and the public that I would someday tell the whole story of what I knew.”

What Happened is the result. “I’ve written it not to settle scores or enhance my own role,” McClellan says, “but simply to record what I know and what I learned,” and on the whole this seems to be the case. As a deputy in the White House press office and then as press secretary, McClellan did not participate in high-level decision-making, especially with regard to foreign policy, but attempted to explain presidential decisions to the public — as those decisions had been explained to him — through the various conduits provided by the press. It is the fate of the presidential press secretary to be among an administration’s most visible public faces yet to be comparatively impotent within the circles of real power. McClellan struggled with this as did all press secretaries before him, but it was his misfortune to be the spokesman for an administration in which deceit and prevarication were commonplace.

If McClellan feels betrayed, he doesn’t say so. Instead, in the self-effacing manner that characterizes his book (and renders it somewhat limp), he merely says, “I blame myself. I allowed myself to be deceived,” and then blandly adds, “But the behavior of the president and his key advisers was even more disappointing.” Well, yes.

More here.