May 28th, 2008
04:50 PM ET

Ari Fleischer on McClellan's book... and 360

[cnn-photo-caption image=http://i.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2008/images/05/28/art.mcclellan.jpg caption="File photo of Scott McClellan and President Bush in 2006."]
Editor's Note: Below is Ari Fleischer's statement on Scott McClellan's book, What Happened: Inside the Bush White House and What's Wrong with Washington. You can see Ari Fleischer on 360 tonight at 10p ET.

May 28, 2008

Statement by Ari Fleischer on Scott McClellan’s Book

“There is something about this book that just doesn’t make any sense.

For 2 ½ years Scott and I worked shoulder to shoulder at the White House. Scott was my always reliable, solid deputy. Not once did Scott approach me – privately or publicly – to discuss any misgivings he had about the war in Iraq or the manner in which the White House made the case for war. Scott himself repeatedly made the case for the war from the podium and even after he left the White House, I remember watching him on Bill Maher’s show – about one year ago – making the case for the war.

If Scott had such deep misgivings, he should not have accepted the press secretary position as a matter of principle.

This book changed a lot from the way Scott first described it to me. Many of the passages in it don’t sound like Scott. He told me yesterday that as the publication deadline approached, his editor “tweaked some things closely in the last couple months”. Nevertheless, it is Scott’s book and I want to hear his explanation for why he has had such a dramatic change in his point of view.

As press secretary, I repeatedly relied on Scott and have nothing but good memories about our work together in the White House. While I disagree with Scott’s assessments, and am heartbroken that Scott feels this way about his time at the White House, I will always – especially on a personal level – wish Scott well.”

soundoff (36 Responses)
  1. Ryan McCauley

    Bush made the right decision everyone doesnt have the answer sometimes we have too have faith in just one man.

    May 29, 2008 at 2:23 am |
  2. matt

    Oh, please. McClellan is a Texas frat boy, just like Bush. Now he's 30 something with no law degree, so he can't become a partner in the government relations practice of...oh wait, maybe he can....

    May 29, 2008 at 1:53 am |
  3. matt

    June – I'm with you on that

    May 29, 2008 at 1:45 am |
  4. matt

    after Ari said, and I paraphrase, "If you don't believe in the message, you're in the wrong job" (referring to McClellan, and the fact that he should have quit when he knew better)..Cooper's next obvious question should have been: "Ari: Did you ever deliver a message you didn't believe in?"

    May 29, 2008 at 1:41 am |
  5. Ann

    Glad he is trying to inform the general public about his opinion and truth. The corruption in Washington is great and what Scott writes about is only a fraction of it. Long live freedom of speech. Long live truth and justice.

    May 29, 2008 at 12:01 am |
  6. Allyson

    What I have heard of the book today seems to me is basically true. They will try to discredit him to soften the blow. How does this country allow this type of thing? So many have been killed and severely injured, jobs shipped to other countries. Now homeless due to the BS Home loans. The laundry list is long.

    May 28, 2008 at 11:28 pm |
  7. V. Cooper

    A Former Bush Homeland Secretary on Anderson Cooper 360 last evening said that, Mcclellan was only a spokesman not a part of the secret meeting team. But the fact that McClellan is unable to digest the lies and is now puke-ing his guts out, would be safe for me to say he is far above the cut of those “secret teamsters.” Every thinking American already figures out the whole thing a long time ago anyways... As for Mr. McCain, a few months ago he said that no president of America has any business talking to its enemy, now he is saying that some people feel that talking to Iran is ok as if would make any difference, because the Republicans tried that already and they failed. But what else is new? The present Republican administration seem to fail at everything else. Even President Reagan’s son last week on Larry King live stated that any president of the US is superior to those of countries such as Iran and Cuba, and that is why they should be ignored, where does that guy come off? As far as I am concerned all men are created equally, the only difference is some have INTEGRITY.

    May 28, 2008 at 11:24 pm |
  8. Kathie,Ontario.Canada

    Eugene: By sidetracking the issue and abandoning the legitimate
    war in Afganistan the forces and effort were weakened. This is
    why Osama is still at large.
    There was no immediate danger from Saddam.. Nothing that
    the U.N. inspectors couldn't keep an eye on. One of the chief
    inspectors came out and said there were no weapons of mass
    destruction and he was torn apart by the Bush propaganda
    machine as a traitor.
    Tony Blair who bought into Bush's WMD intelligence and
    stood beside him on all issues had his political career
    ruined for taking his country to war needlessly.

    May 28, 2008 at 11:00 pm |
  9. Edmond Farrell

    Anderson said that he was surprised that someone not in the loop would be the White House spokesperson. Isn't it generally well understood that one standard way to spin a story is to tell the spokesperson only a part of the story and let him answer questions with only the information you want to let out? I would think Scott McClellan would have been quite naive to believe that he had full access to any story coming out of the White House. It seems he should not be surprised or upset that sometimes he was lied to by senior officials, especially considering with whom he was working.

    May 28, 2008 at 10:40 pm |
  10. Madds

    Let's not forget how this White House circles the wagons against anyone not toeing the party line (i.e., if you're a reporter who asks the wrong question, you get shut out/if you don't agree with our view of the "facts," you can be a CIA agent defending this country and you'll get your cover blown by the people whose duty it is to protect you in the name of political machinations). These people have been vicious in their willingness to enforce loyalty, if not in thought at least in deed. So this was an environment that didn't encourage healthy debate, plus McClellan himself was a bit of a babe in the woods when he came to his job, partly because this was a White House that valued loyalty over actual qualifications (remember Brownie, the head of FEMA?). He wasn't really qualified to be press secretary, but he was a true believer. I wouldn't be surprised if it took some time for the Kool Aid to wear off before he could speak out. But beyond all that, it's sad to say that much of this stuff isn't new. We've known that Bush and his cronies were a litter of dogs in the manger for a long time, and we've also known that Bush went into this war to prove that he was better than "Daddy," and also to mollify the neo-con nutbags he ran with. We've known that Bush is content to squander the benefits handed to him by wealth and his last name in the interest of self-deception and lack of reflection or intellectual inquiry. We're supposed to be the richest, strongest country on earth and we've got Homer Simpson as president with Chancellor Palpatine as his vp. It's sad and embarassing that these people are running this country, this book is just another piece of the fabric of this tragedy. As such, it doesn't really change much.

    May 28, 2008 at 10:39 pm |
  11. June

    Ok Ok Ari..we get the message... you're sticking with your story about how wonderful Bush is and how you can't understand Scott.,...till you leave and write your own book. Can't say I blame you Ari...with this economy I'd lie in my teeth to keep MY too.

    May 28, 2008 at 10:35 pm |
  12. shannon

    OK, this has been going on for a long time. Whatever his motives for writing the book, his allegations are NOT NEW. All people seem to be concerned with is that this is out of character. THE REAL problem is that the Bush leadership is full of illegal, immortal, and idiotic decisions. What isn’t he impeached???????

    May 28, 2008 at 10:34 pm |
  13. Casey

    A Bush Administration member is sensored, McClellan has to say what the president has to say or the job goes to someone else. George brainwashes the secretaries to say what he wants them to say. I hope that this gives a message to all registered voters meaning "WAKE UP" the last 7 1/2 years have been terrible with the country is miss leaded with lies all of the time. Gasoline was 1.47 and will be $ 4 dollars any day now. DICK CHENEY WAS THE CEO OF YOU KNOW WHO. It is more true that McClellan because it is released before January 20, 2009. GEORGE KNEW THAT THIS BOOK WAS COMMING BEFORE 2008 BEGAN. If you lie! YOU GET CAUGHT! PERIOD. I DO NOT LIKE TO READ NOVELS, AND ACTUALLY I HAD THE NERVE TO PURCHASE THIS BOOK BECAUSE THE LAST EIGHT YEARS ARE REALLY AWFUL AND WE NEED A MORE TRUSTING POLITICIANS!

    May 28, 2008 at 10:28 pm |
  14. Jackie, California

    Once you're no longer a loyal Bushy, all of a sudden you're deemed a nut case, and everybody who you reveal as liars, all of a sudden you're not the person they knew. Everyone except the loyal Bushy kool-aide drinkers know Scott McClellan is telling the truth. These men are crooks, each and every one of them should be charged with 4,000 counts of first degree murder. Since I'm a certified Anesthesiologist, I'll be the first in line after their conviction, to administer the lethal injection. I think that would be too easy, they should be shipped to Iraq and forced to drive down ambush alley.

    May 28, 2008 at 10:27 pm |
  15. juli

    it seems to me that scot mcclellan is a pathetically loyal guy who kept his mouth shut out of blind loyalty to bush while he could still believe bush and the in-crowd were his friends. when he realized he had been played and used and lied to and, finally, publicly crapped upon, he did the most normal thing in the world - he got mad as hell.

    he didn't complain while he still had a job there. he never did what colin powell and others should have done - resign in protest. there is no hint of honor involved in this. nor is there even a particle of nobility or concern for the nation's well-being.

    all that said: it still doesn't mean the little turd is lying. i suspect he is telling the truth. he is luckier than most people who get treated the way he was. he is lucky his former boss is someone lots of people want to read about and that he can collect some coin for having been screwed.

    this probably wasn't his career plan, but he won't starve. most of us just get used by our bosses and dumped into the mcjob pile.

    May 28, 2008 at 10:26 pm |
  16. Rich

    It seems to me that McCleland's job was to report Bush's line/story/news to the press corps. He doesn't have to agree with it. Just be the messanger. "Tell them 'Sadam has WMDs' 'We're working as hard as we can to get aid to the Katrina victim's.'.... " It was not McCleland's job to give his own opinion. Bush was the boss. McCleland was the employee. Employees don't have to (and often don't) agree with the boss – just do what the boss says.

    May 28, 2008 at 10:06 pm |
  17. Beth ATL

    I agree with Kate and can add to her list.

    Why wouldn't McClellan have publically disagreed with the president then? Well first, his job was PR not policy. Maybe McClellan was sensible enough to think the press secretary's position on going to war wasn't going to be the determining factor!! (I mean really,should your PR guy carry weight over the sec of state, joint chiefs, sec of defense, CentCom commander, CIA director........) Secondly McClellan watched the VP's chief of staff and a chief advisor to the President of the United States 'out' a covert CIA agent working on stopping Iranian nuclear weapons (and yes technically it was Armitage who did it first and still it is clear Rove and Libby were also doing the same thing) and get away with it!. He saw the Bush Admin successfuly brand a war hero as unpatriotic, use the generous act of adopting a needy child to destroy someone's character in order to win a primary, and brand anyone who opposed his policies as 'aiding the enemy'. Rove got Don Siegleman put in jail so his party could win the AL governorship!! Gee, I wonder why McClellan waited until the public already knew the lies were lies before speaking out. It doesn't take a genius to answer that question!

    And to Anderson's point of yesterday – Richard Clarke DID resign.

    Richard Clarke went public. James Wilson went public. The UN inspector spoke out. Europeans spoke out. Democrats spoke out. Some Republicans spoke out. Some journalists spoke out. Middle eastern experts spoke out. Bush, Cheney, Rove and company managed to convince lots of Americans that you can't trust Democrats, you can't trust government bureaucrats, you can't trust the media, you can't trust academians, the UN is bad, Europeans are all sissies, teachers and colleges are all brainwashing, and on and on- so there was no one who had the ability to study certain issues or who might be in a position to have insight that could be trusted besides themselves. I am surprised parents and grandparents weren't accused of being bad sources of info! Wake up folks because it is still going on!!

    May 28, 2008 at 9:50 pm |
  18. Eugene Dunn

    Hi Carrie & Kathie:

    There will be no impeachment proceedings for Bush because then Bill Clinton–who is on the public record as making the same argument during his administration that Saddam was a threat– would have to testify. And he would be just the beginning. That's why Nancy Pelosi, who had a mandate, backed off impeachment.

    Kathie: The bitter lesson learned of 9/11 was to take care of these problems before they metastasize on our shores. That was the primary argument to invade Iraq and take out the mass grave-digging, oil well-torching, WMD-using, war treaty-breaking super tyrant who was embezzling billions from a humanitarian program while his people starved.

    If nothing else, thanks for the civil tone. You're classy ladies. I don't come across that often in a political debate.

    May 28, 2008 at 9:43 pm |
  19. Lisette Chicago, IL

    This book did not tell me anything I didn't know and I had no information. Some things are just obvious.

    I am glad the book was written, but where were all these people like Scott and Colin Powell when all this was just starting. they could have been heroes if they had spoken out sooner and stopped the madness before it happened.

    May 28, 2008 at 9:28 pm |
  20. Annie Kate

    Maybe Scott didn't feel this way when he was in the White House but once he was out of the White House and free from the influences there, he took a good long hard look at things and realized that he didn't agree with them. His book isn't telling us anything most of us haven't already figured out for ourselves. I don't see what the fuss is about.

    Annie Kate
    Birmingham AL

    May 28, 2008 at 9:23 pm |
  21. Kent, Illinois

    Kathie from Canada................

    Absolutely!!!!!! You hit the nail right on the head with your statements. Here in the US we see Bush for what he is but we can't do anything about it. I hope after Bush is out of office and cannot pardon anyone Cheney, Rove, and their bunch of idiots are prosecuted for what they have done.

    May 28, 2008 at 8:21 pm |
  22. Kent, Illinois

    Brainwashing is brainwashing. As time went by ,he realized how wrong everything was. He deprogrammed himself. Hey, if someone was gonna pay you lots of money to sell their B.S you would do it. Unfortunately, over 4000 US men and women have been killed in Iraq. Not to mention, I'm sure, an incredible amount of Iraqi soldiers and civilians. It would be astounding, I bet to ,know how many.

    May 28, 2008 at 8:15 pm |
  23. JC- Los Angeles

    Who cares what McClellan says; he and the whole Bush team are a group of hacks; everyone already knows this; Bush? hack; Cheney? hack; Rice; total hack; Libbey? hack; McClellan? hack; Greenspan? hack; birds of a feather flock together; I also blame the publisher; why even bother; I'll sum it all up without literary agents, publishers or editors: "no one knows anything about anything." period; the only thing worse is a turncoat; while terrorists were learning to fly planes in the US, no one bothered to look; after 911, we had to look proactive; the Soviets couldn't win in Afghanistan and neither could we; so we invaded Iraq; couldn't find non-existent WMDs; we became a country of nation builders overseas while our country fell apart at home; we send a woman of color to the Middle East to broker peace; say what? we then help drive up oil to new heights as our real estate plummets to new lows due to massive mortgage fraud. You can't make this stuff up; thanks for the memories.

    May 28, 2008 at 7:57 pm |
  24. cristy

    I agree with most of the comments. Some of us Texans could see this mess coming way back in 2000. I don't think this book is such a bombshell for most of the population. Most of the stuff that has been reported on the book so far, we already knew.

    May 28, 2008 at 6:59 pm |
  25. Kathie,Ontario.Canada

    Eugene : All through his campaign to go to war Bush called the Iraqis
    responsible for 911 they weren't. Wasn't it 911 the reason the war
    in Afganistan came about? You know Afganistan the legitimate war.
    It wasn't Iraq where most of the 911 terrorists came from. They
    were Saudis ..You know those people who are great friends of
    the Bush family. I am completely convinced that the only reason that
    Bush wanted to invade Iraq was for payback. Payback for Saddam
    putting a hit out on Bush's daddy.
    Now, before you tell me to mind my own business , I am minding
    my business. Canadians are fighting and dying along side other
    allies of the U.S. .. So if you want to ask people to go to war with
    you don't tell them to mind their own business now.

    May 28, 2008 at 6:45 pm |
  26. Carrie Pa

    Its seems that all the Bush cronies have the same talking points. I don't believe anything that the Bush White House says. Congress needs to start the impeachment process.

    May 28, 2008 at 6:07 pm |
  27. Chris in Sarasota

    How can anyone continue to make a case for this war when it is more and more obvious what the Administration's real intent was?

    Do you not know about PNAC (Project For A New American Century) — its members, mission statement, and intent? All of Bush's senior security advisors signed the whitepaper (written before 9/11) that espoused, in a nutshell, that America should run the world, and they lay out a plan for doing it. That plan involved invading first Iraq, then Iran, then Syria. As a starting point. And that in order to convince the American public that this would be a good thing, it would require a catastropic event along the lines of Pearl Harbor — unquote. Well, they got their wish while their boy was in office.

    This information is entirely verifiable. Why is everyone so shocked about McClellan's revelations? When have any revelations by anyone to date turned out not to be true?

    May 28, 2008 at 6:05 pm |
  28. Melissa

    During the process of writing the book, McClellan quite possibly could've changed his mind on his stance regarding the war. I know I did once I realized Bush had duped me!

    May 28, 2008 at 5:56 pm |
  29. Chris in Sarasota

    OMG, Ari, you're still drinking the Kool-Aid.

    May 28, 2008 at 5:53 pm |
  30. Vannessa

    Bush and Cheney suckered the press so what else is new. The press is so busy scandalizing and destroying people that it can't recognized what's going on in its own backyard. Those of us who didn't vote for Bush knew he's not different from his daddy and would act only in his own best interest.

    Example, Neil Bush was instrumental in the destruction of Savings and Loans Banks while his daddy was president but do we hear anything about this? No. Why? Because Daddy Bush diverted attention away from Neil Bush and his role in the destruction of Savings and Loans Banks by starting a scrimage. I can't remember where.

    Cheney is evil, you can see it in his eyes and posture. If I saw him on an elevator I wouldn't get on it but would wait for the next one. Cheney should be in jail for shooting his friend in the face.

    Bush, Cheney, and probably most of his cabinet are liars, cheats, deceivers, thieves, pretenders, prostitutes, fakes, work only in the best interests of self, friends and family. I don't trust any of them, never have and my conscious is free because I didn't vote for the SOB in either of his elections.

    May 28, 2008 at 5:49 pm |
  31. Maritza

    I 've seen Ari Fleischer on several networks and on CNN , his position is always clear on the issues, he is fair in his assesment of politics and the inner workings of the White House, no doubt the President who is always loyal to his immediate inner circle and advisors, Karl Rove, the past Attorney General and Ari included , are astounded of this two faced responce by way of a tell all book, this is far too extreme in the complete turn around manner for which Scott McClellan has chosen, their appears to be a suspicious motive , money of course motivates the true nature of people always, and also who is really behind what was the final draft of this book , With the constant disrespect the media throws at this President and it's administration ,it's no suprise they have another back stabber in the bunch.


    May 28, 2008 at 5:29 pm |
  32. Eugene Dunn


    On the same day that excerpts from former White House press secretary Scott McClellan new book came out in which he concludes that the Iraq war “was not necessary,” intelligence and law enforcement sources told ABC News that they are expecting al Qaeda supporters to post a new video on the Internet calling for “jihadists to use biological, chemical and nuclear weapons to attack the West.”

    Now let’s say for argument’s sake that in the wake of 9/11 President Bush had ignored the looming threat posed by a mass grave-digging, oil well-torching, American-hating, war treaty breaking super tyrant with a proven track record for sponsoring terrorists, using WMDs to kill tens of thousands of his own civilians and an insatiable appetite to exact revenge against a former U.S. president that would have ignited Operation Iraqi Freedom in the spring of 1993. My question is where do you think the terrorists of today would go for a steady supply of WMDs?

    According to the 2004 Iraqi Survey Group report, Saddam Hussein had every intention of reconstituting his WMD program once the 2003 Bush-initiated heat had subsided. What better “plausible denial” way for the conscious-less and bloodthirsty Hussein to hurt America than to have these suicidal “guns for hire” do his dirty work? As Vice President Dick Cheney so eloquently and persuasively put it in his August 2002 speech at the Veterans of Foreign War convention in Nashville:

    "Deliverable weapons of mass destruction in the hands of a terror network or a murderous dictator, or the two working together, constitutes as grave a threat as to be imagined. . .The liberal voices that oppose the war have always been skeptical of the idea that Saddam and al Qaeda have conspired in any fashion, even despite the detailed intelligence reports that have emerged since the war. But their objection misses the point. The fact is, Saddam and the Islamic terrorists share one primary goal–to destroy the United States. Saddam has expressed admiration for the 9/11 attacks, and bin Laden has praised the Iraqi resistance. And neither side would hesitate for a moment to cooperate with the other if it served their common, murderous ends. With Saddam Hussein's ability to manufacture WMDs, and al Qaeda's ability to deliver them under the radar, surely neither side could resist the temptation forever. Allowing Saddam Hussein to remain in power while the War on Terror raged around the world would be like hoping the engine fire in your car would simply burn itself out before it could reach the gas tank. . .America could no longer risk the chance that Saddam would take the next logical step in his permanent war on the West."

    As I see it, anyone who calls this pre-emptive war “not necessary” is short-sighted and ignorant of just how evil Saddam Hussein was. Had Bush not pulled the trigger and we all went to bed every night under the threat of Hussein’s WMD clearing house, had the unthinkable happened, never mind impeachment for Bush as some have called for. There would be an enraged mob storming the gates of the White House stringing him up Mussolini-style because he was gutless in “allowing this unnecessary carnage” to happen!

    May 28, 2008 at 5:27 pm |
  33. Kate

    I’ve read in many blogs and heard the talking heads on TV ask
    why didn’t he speak up when he was in the White House.. Why
    didn’t he tell the president that he disagreed on several issues?
    Well these people must have a very short or very selective memories. Don’t any of you remember what happened to Joe
    Wilson and his wife Valerie Plame when Joe Wilson dared to
    disagree with Bush and his administration? Obviously,
    McClellan did.

    May 28, 2008 at 5:18 pm |
  34. Lorie Ann, Buellton, California

    Well said. We all can't live in each other's skin. What one person feels and does, will be different from another person's views. What really went on in the White House, we may never know. But something tells me, that we humans will never agree on the left and right, black and white of it all. Perhaps it will turn out, like most things in life, to be a deep shade of gray.

    Lorie Ann, Buellton, Calif.

    May 28, 2008 at 5:16 pm |
  35. Paris

    Thank you Ari.

    It is good to know that some still have integrity.

    May 28, 2008 at 5:06 pm |
  36. Cindy

    I agree with Ari. I just don't see why Scott stayed on and stayed silent all of that time. It seems like to me that he is just trying to cash in by saying some pretty negative things about Bush and his administration. Can't wait to see what he says in interviews about this. That will show what his true intentions are I think.

    May 28, 2008 at 4:56 pm |