McClellan says first loyalty is to truth as he defends Bush book

Declaring that "loyalty to the truth" was more important than his affection for President George Bush, the softly-spoken former White House press secretary, Scott McClellan, took to the airwaves yesterday to defend his bombshell new book, that has become an overnight sensation and accuses the Bush administration of manipulating intelligence to justify the Iraq war.

"The White House would prefer that I not talk openly about my experiences," he said in a combative interview on NBC television yesterday. "These words didn't come to me easy... I'm disappointed that things didn't turn out the way we all hoped they would." Mr McClellan went on to say: "I have a higher loyalty... than my loyalty to my past work. I have a loyalty to the truth."

He had not spoken out sooner about the use of lies and propaganda to sell the war in Iraq because he, like other Americans, gave the President the benefit of the doubt. "My beliefs were different then. I believed the President when he talked about the grave and gathering danger from Iraq," Mr McClellan explained.

Mr McClellan, who followed Mr Bush from Texas to Washington, was always seen as a Bush loyalist and his book, What Happened, Inside the Bush White House and Washington's Culture of Deception, was written more in sorrow than in anger. It has reopened the debate over the Iraq invasion at a time when the Republican presidential candidate, John McCain, is accusing the Democrat Barack Obama of "surrender" over Iraq.

Describing Mr Bush as "a gut player," Mr McClellan said discussions about invading Iraq began soon after the terrorist attacks of 11 September, 2001.

He declared yesterday that his own misgivings about the rush to invade Iraq were offset by his personal feelings for Mr Bush and respect for his foreign policy advisers. The President was guilty of self-deception rather than distortion, and had not consciously inflated the threat of Iraq unleashing weapons of mass destruction, Mr McClellan said: "He came to convince himself of that."

He also underlined that the Vice-President, Dick Cheney, "was given a lot of deference by the President," and said "in a number of ways, he has not served the President well".

Mr McClellan has also attacked the Secretary of State, Condoleezza Rice, saying she did not challenge the President when she should have. "Too often, she was too accommodating [to the President's views]," he said, and she too bowed to Mr Cheney and the former defence secretary Donald Rumsfeld.

Despite a chorus of damnation from Mr McClellan's former associates, the allegations dominated the airwaves.

Speaking in Europe, Ms Rice launched into a long-winded defence of the invasion of Iraq, saying that people frequently did not appreciate the significance of events until long afterwards.

"We did some things well, some things not so well. The one thing that I am certain was not a mistake was to liberate the Iraqi people from Saddam Hussein," she said. She added that America was not alone in believing that "the monster that was Saddam Hussein... had weapons of mass destruction that he was hiding."

Mr McClellan's allegations that the media had been gullible in accepting propaganda from the White House have also touched a raw nerve. Jessica Yellin, who worked for ABC television until last year, said: "The press corps was under enormous pressure from corporate executives, frankly, to make sure this was a war presented in a way that was consistent with the patriotic fever and the President's high approval ratings."

For rolling comment on the US election visit:

Suggested Topics
Susan Sarandon described David Bowie as
peopleSusan Sarandon reveals more on her David Bowie romance
Arsenal supporters gather for a recent ‘fan party’ in New Jersey
sportDidier Drogba returns to Chelsea on one-year deal
Arts and Entertainment
The Secret Cinema performance of Back to the Future has been cancelled again
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebookA unique anthology of reporting and analysis of a crucial period of history
Life and Style
Balmain's autumn/winter 2014 campaign, shot by Mario Sorrenti and featuring Binx Walton, Cara Delevingne, Jourdan Dunn, Ysaunny Brito, Issa Lish and Kayla Scott
fashionHow Olivier Rousteing is revitalising the house of Balmain
Arts and Entertainment
Christian Grey cradles Ana in the Fifty Shades of Grey film
filmFifty Shades of Grey trailer provokes moral outrage in US
BBC broadcaster and presenter Evan Davis, who will be taking over from Jeremy Paxman on Newsnight
peopleForget Paxman - what will Evan Davis be like on Newsnight?
Life and Style
fashionCustomer complained about the visibly protruding ribs
The new dawn heralded by George Osborne has yet to rise
voicesJames Moore: As the Tories rub their hands together, the average voter will be asking why they're not getting a piece of the action
Dejan Lovren celebrates scoring for Southampton although the goal was later credited to Adam Lallana
newsComedy club forced to apologise as maggots eating a dead pigeon fall out of air-conditioning
Arts and Entertainment
Jo Brand says she's mellowed a lot
tvJo Brand says shows encourage people to laugh at the vulnerable
Life and Style
People may feel that they're procrastinating by watching TV in the evening
Travel Shop
the manor
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on city breaks Find out more
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on chic beach resorts Find out more
sardina foodie
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on country retreats Find out more
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Senior Risk Manager - Banking - London - £650

£600 - £650 per day: Orgtel: Conduct Risk Liaison Manager - Banking - London -...

Commercial Litigation Associate

Highly Attractive Package: Austen Lloyd: CITY - COMMERCIAL LITIGATION - GLOBAL...

Systems Manager - Dynamics AX

£65000 - £75000 per annum + Benefits: Progressive Recruitment: The client is a...

Service Delivery Manager (Software Development, Testing)

£40000 - £45000 per annum: Ashdown Group: A well-established software house ba...

Day In a Page

Evan Davis: The BBC’s wolf in sheep’s clothing to take over at Newsnight

The BBC’s wolf in sheep’s clothing

What will Evan Davis be like on Newsnight?
Finding the names for America’s shame: What happens to the immigrants crossing the US-Mexico border without documents who never make it past the Arizona desert?

Finding the names for America’s shame

The immigrants crossing the US-Mexico border without documents who never make it past the Arizona desert
Inside a church for Born Again Christians: Speaking to God in a Manchester multiplex

Inside a church for Born Again Christians

As Britain's Anglican church struggles to establish its modern identity, one branch of Christianity is booming
Rihanna, Kim Kardashian and me: How Olivier Rousteing is revitalising the house of Balmain

Olivier Rousteing is revitalising the house of Balmain

Parisian couturier Pierre Balmain made his name dressing the mid-century jet set. Today, Olivier Rousteing – heir to the house Pierre built – is celebrating their 21st-century equivalents. The result? Nothing short of Balmania
Cancer, cardiac arrest, HIV and homelessness - and he's only 39

Incredible survival story of David Tovey

Tovey went from cooking for the Queen to rifling through bins for his supper. His is a startling story of endurance against the odds – and of a social safety net failing at every turn
Backhanders, bribery and abuses of power have soared in China as economy surges

Bribery and abuses of power soar in China

The bribery is fuelled by the surge in China's economy but the rules of corruption are subtle and unspoken, finds Evan Osnos, as he learns the dark arts from a master
Commonwealth Games 2014: Highland terriers stole the show at the opening ceremony

Highland terriers steal the show at opening ceremony

Gillian Orr explores why a dog loved by film stars and presidents is finally having its day
German art world rocked as artists use renowned fat sculpture to distil schnapps

Brewing the fat from artwork angers widow of sculptor

Part of Joseph Beuys' 1982 sculpture 'Fettecke' used to distil schnapps
BBC's The Secret History of Our Streets reveals a fascinating window into Britain's past

BBC takes viewers back down memory lane

The Secret History of Our Streets, which returns with three films looking at Scottish streets, is the inverse of Benefits Street - delivering warmth instead of cynicism
Joe, film review: Nicolas Cage delivers an astonishing performance in low budget drama

Nicolas Cage shines in low-budget drama Joe

Cage plays an ex-con in David Gordon Green's independent drama, which has been adapted from a novel by Larry Brown
How to make your own gourmet ice lollies, granitas, slushy cocktails and frozen yoghurt

Make your own ice lollies and frozen yoghurt

Think outside the cool box for this summer's tempting frozen treats
Ford Fiesta is UK's most popular car of all-time, with sales topping 4.1 million since 1976

Fiesta is UK's most popular car of all-time

Sales have topped 4.1 million since 1976. To celebrate this milestone, four Independent writers recall their Fiestas with pride
10 best reed diffusers

Heaven scent: 10 best reed diffusers

Keep your rooms smelling summery and fresh with one of these subtle but distinctive home fragrances that’ll last you months
Commonwealth Games 2014: Female boxers set to compete for first time

Female boxers set to compete at Commonwealth Games for first time

There’s no favourites and with no headguards anything could happen
Five things we’ve learned so far about Manchester United under Louis van Gaal

Five things we’ve learned so far about United under Van Gaal

It’s impossible to avoid the impression that the Dutch manager is playing to the gallery a little