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McClellan testifies to House Judiciary Committee

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by David Edwards and Nick
Juliano, Raw Story
June 20, 2008

Former White House spokesman Scott McClellan is testifying to the House Judiciary
Committee about his new revelations on the exposure of CIA agent Valerie Plame
and the Bush administration’s “propaganda campaign” that led the country
into war.

McClellan was invited to testify after publication of his tell all memoir,
What Happened: Inside the Bush White House and Washington’s Culture of Deception.
Judiciary Committee Chairman John Conyers said the revelations McClellan wrote
about “may or may not constitute an impeachable offense.”

The revelation of a pre-war propaganda campaign was “a confirmation that
the White House played fast and loose with the truth in a time of war,”
Conyers said to open the hearing. “Depending on how one reads the Constitution,
that may or may not be an impeachable offense.”

Conyers, a Michigan Democrat, said Plame’s outing was a direct component of
that propaganda effort because it was aimed at discrediting her husband Joe
Wilson, a former ambassador who undercut the administration’s argument that
Saddam Hussein was attempting to buy nuclear weapons materials from Africa.
Friday’s hearing, he said, was aimed at uncovering possible evidence of obstruction
of justice and painting a fuller picture of administration officials involvement
“not only in the leak but also in the coverup.”

Rep. Lamar Smith, the top Republican on the Judiciary Committee, gave a prebuttal
of McClellan’s testimony, reciting accusations that McClellan was simply trying
to make a buck with a critical book and that he was perhaps trying to get back
at his former bosses. He even name-checked controversial right-wing author Ann
Coulter’s book How to Talk to a Liberal and tried to tie McClellan
to liberal financier George Soros, a favorite bogeyman of conservatives.

McClellan was sworn in before delivering his opening statement, which has been
posted at the committee’s Web site.

The former administration official, who began working for George W. Bush during
his time as governor of Texas, criticized the campaign-style of governing Bush
brought to the White House. And he said the dirty politics that have become
standard in the GOP were exemplified in the reaction to his memoir from conservatives
and Bush allies.

“I received plenty of criticism for daring to tell the story as I knew
it,” he said. “Yet few of my critics tried to refute the larger themes
and perspectives in the book. Instead of engaging in a reasoned, rational, and
honest discussion of the issues raised, some sought to turn it into a game of
‘gotcha,’ misrepresenting what I wrote and seeking to discredit me through inaccurate
personal attacks on me and my motives.”

McClellan said he had no “direct knowledge” of whether President
Bush or Vice President Dick Cheney were directly involved in outing Plame, but
he criticized the White House for not speaking publicly about the agent’s exposure,
which administration officials promised to do when the criminal investigation
was completed.

“This White House promised or assured the American people that at some
point when this was behind us they would talk publicly about it,” he said.
“And they have refused to.

“And that’s why I think more than any other reason we are here today and
the suspicion still remains,” McClellan told the panel.

On the case for invading Iraq, McClellan said the president and his aides did
not properly present the intelligence on the country and ignored doubts laid
out by the intelligence community. But he was wary to say the administration
deliberately misled the nation into war.

“I don’t think there was a group sitting around saying let’s mislead the
American people,” he said.

After less than an hour of testimony, the Judiciary Committee went on recess
for debate and an expected vote on an update to the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance
Act.

DEVELOPING….

With wire reports