Some may say that Scott McClellan is a traitor — not exactly a complimentary adjective — but my gut tells me he’s being truthful, traitor or not. McClellan will have to deal with his conscience and his loss of friendship. That’s his business. Sorting the truth, is our business.
McClellan is not the first Bush-insider to unload revelations in a book about White House staff manipulating intelligence data to support an invasion of Iraq. In 2004, “The Price Of Loyalty,” was penned by Ron Suskind as told by Paul O’Neill. In it, the former Secretary of Treasury unveiled a great deal about G.W. Bush’s obsession with Saddam Hussein in the first ten days of taking office, nine months before 9/11. Naturally, O’Neill was accused of being disgruntled since being fired by the prez for voting nay to the tax cuts. Yet, plans were already underway to find justification for the pre-emptive invasion. He says the evidence to support the presence of weapons of mass destruction in Iraq was “paltry” at best, as evidence to the contrary was ignored.
Perhaps O’Neill was disgruntled, but that doesn’t make him dishonest. Especially when other insiders have corroborated the same sordid attitudes.
Richard Clarke, counter-terrorism expert was a high level advisor to both presidents, Bill Clinton and George W. Bush. In his book, Against All Enemies, Clarke writes that Bush and his inner circle were more obsessed with Saddam Hussein and Iraq, than Osama Bin Laden and al Qaeda, not only before, but after 9/11. According to Clarke, the day after the terrorist attack that killed 3,000 people, Bush asked him to find evidence that Saddam Hussein was somehow connected. While there was no solid evidence that weapons of mass destruction existed in Iraq, the administration cherry picked intelligence to support those findings and disregarded any information to the contrary.
Thus, McClellan’s expose`in his new book, What Happened — which basically asserts similar claims — is lent credibility. Some ask why he did not speak up earlier, when he was close to the president. In truth, his role was that of press secretary — to serve as the voice of the administration — not an advisor.
In a small way, I can clearly relate. I did not always agree with my command staff about certain decisions when I served as a captain for Miami-Dade P.D., but my role was to obey orders like a good soldier and represent my chief to the public in a good light. Behind the scenes, my disagreement was a matter between myself and by bosses.
In one instance, I was in charge of a case in which twelve uniformed cops were under investigation for the beating death of a black man who had been speeding on a motorcycle. The community was in an uproar. The news media went into a frenzy. Tensions were high. The black community demanded justice. And justice is what we were determined to achieve.
As the investigation unfolded, I determined that about half of that group were involved in the beating, while another two or three were present at the time without trying to intervene. Another two or three arrived after it happened. The Assistant Director (or assistant chief) chaired a meeting to discuss the administrative action to be taken. He said, “Fire them all.” I objected. Not all deserved to be fired. Obviously intent on pacifying media and the community, he reiterated, “Fire them all.” My words bore no weight.
What’s that old saying? “Not for me to question why, but to…”
All the cops were fired, including at least two that didn’t deserve it. When I finally retired years later, I wanted to unload the truth, to write about the inside story, not only about that Assistant Director, but how the department had allowed these volatile cops to fester in a violent group for months and years, knowing they were problem officers. In a sense, the department was equally at fault for that man’s death. A professional writer convinced me to write the story in fiction form. Thus, my novel titled, “Beyond The Call.” Believe me. It’s a great feeling of liberation when that muzzle comes off.
Scott McLellan is being censured for not speaking up at the time. He wore that same muzzle and remained loyal to the chief. Critics have not walked in his shoes, nor Rickard Clarke’s, nor Paul O’Neill’s. McLellan may have been a highly visible personality to America, but he was just a lacky to the president with no more voice than… “What do you want me to tell the reporters, sir?”
Judging his betrayal to the mouth that fed him…and to the man who made him famous, well…that’s another story. I know another organization that would handle that matter with cement shoes.
In the meanwhile, let’s listen to the message before shooting the messenger.
Imagine, if Colin Powell decided to write a book…Hmmmm