Scott McClellan’s admission that he unintentionally made false statements denying the involvement of Karl Rove and Scooter Libby in the Bush-Cheney administration’s plot to discredit former Ambassador Joe Wilson, along with his revelation that Vice President Cheney and President Bush were among those who provided him with the misinformation, sets the former White House press secretary as John Dean to George Bush’s Richard Nixon.
It was Dean willingness to reveal the details of what described as “a cancer” on the Nixon presidency that served as a critical turning point in the struggle by a previous Congress to hold the 37th president to account.
Now, McClellan has offered what any honest observer must recognize as the stuff of a similarly significant breakthrough.
The only question is whether the current Congress is up to the task of holding the 43rd president to account.
What McClellan has revealed, in a section from an upcoming book on his tenure in the Bush-Cheney White House, is a stunning indictment of the president and the vice president. The former press secretary is confirming that Bush and Cheney not only knew that Rove, the administration’s political czar, and Libby, who served as Cheney’s top aide, were involved in the scheme to attack Wilson’s credibility — by outing the former ambassador’s wife, Valerie Plame, as a Central Intelligence Agency analyst — but that the president and vice president actively engaged in efforts to prevent the truth from coming out.
“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,” writes McClellan in an excerpt from his book, What Happened, which is to be published next April by Public Affairs.
“There was one problem,” the long-time Bush aide continues. “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.”
Much has been made about the fact that outing Plame as a CIA operative was a felony, since knowingly revealing the identity of an intelligence asset is illegal. And much will be made about the fact that McClellan’s statement links Bush and Cheney to the cover-up of illegal activities and the obstruction of justice, acts that are themselves felonies.