Former Bush II Press Secretary Scott McClellan has published his memoir of his years in the White House. Surprisingly, it is highly critical of his boss. McClellan now joins a unsavory group of current and ex-officials in the Bush II administration, an analysis of which makes evident some of the reasons why it was the worst in American history.
There was Paul Wolfowitz. The neocon Deputy Defence Secretary was a chief architect of the Iraq War. Like all of the neocon hawks, he studiously avoided serving in the U.S. military. He grossly underestimated the war's cost and did not plan for its aftermath. He left his post in 2005 for his sinecure engineered by Bush II - the Presidency of the World Bank. Faster than you can say Moqtada al-Sadr, he found a girlfriend among the Bank's staff. He gave her a healthy salary increase. When accused of being in a conflict of interest, working through Dick Cheney's daughter he got his gal pal seconded to the State Department. Alas, it didn't work. He was forced to resign in disgrace - but not before he negotiated a healthy severance payment for himself.
There was Bush's first Secretary of State, Colin Powell - the blue chip black Republican General and hero of Desert Storm. He either knowingly or with wilful blindness beat the drum in the UN and elsewhere about Saddam's non-existent weapons of mass destruction and the security dangers they posed for the world. Soon after, Powell says, he began to have misgivings about the intelligence giving rise to the phony weapons of mass destruction issue. He also disagreed as to the conduct of the War. But he did not resign. He served to the end of the first Bush term. He voiced public criticism of the Iraq war only after leaving office. While he continued to serve Bush despite his state of unease, thousands of Iraqis and American soldiers continued to die. Of course, he wrote a book about his hellish experience and has made millions on the rubber chicken circuit since, dining out on his awful Bush II stories.
Then there is George Tenet. Tenet was a holdover from the Clinton years as Director of the CIA. Big George and his officials provided the faulty intelligence of Saddam's WMDs. Tenet assured his boss that proof of the WMDs was a "slam dunk case." He also approved torture techniques. He mercifully resigned in June of 2004. For his incompetence, the President awarded him the Presidential Medal of Freedom. Tenet too has written a book of his experiences which has made money. Like Powell, he is now critical of his former boss but - again like Powell - didn't have the guts to resign in protest when most of the blood was being spilled. Like most of Bush's chicken hawks, Tenet had never served in military service of his country.
Then there was Lewis 'Scooter' Libby. 'Scooter' - such a harmless, upbeat, chipper name. 'Scooter,' had been Bush's Assistant to the President, Chief of Staff to Cheney, and was Assistant to the Vice President for National Security Affairs. He was found guilty by a jury of his peers of five charges including perjury and obstruction of justice in the Valerie Plame outing affair. For his transgressions, 'Scooter' was fined 250 grand, ordered to do 400 hours of community service and sentenced to three years in the slammer. Following upon his sentencing, his former employer Bush commuted the three years to zero. 'Scooter' also avoided serving his country in uniform as a young man, thus joining the 'chicken hawk' brigade of people like Wolfowitz, Cheney, Tenet and Bush (records of whose military career are mysteriously scant).
Then of course there is former Defence Secretary Rumsfeld, the serial blunderer and bullshit artiste of the war, who incompetently underestimated the manpower and financial demands of the mission, provided inferior equipment and supplies for his men in uniform, and consistently lied to the American people about the war's progress. Rummy also approved torture methods. He used a signing machine to write his letters of condolences to aggrieved families who lost loved ones who were fighting the war. He finally packed it in during Bush's second term amid mounting public criticism and unease about the war. At last report he is seeking a publisher for his memoirs so he can add to his ill-gotten gazillions earned in the private sector pre-Bush II. He is also facing lawsuits and criminal proceedings in several corners of the world that are likely to harass him to his grave.
There is the Vice President Dick Cheney. Joined at the hip was Rummy, he still maintains there were connections between Al Qaeda and Saddam, an allegation akin to the one about the moon being made of green cheese. He too is a supporter of torture and whatever is going on in Guantanamo. Cheney was a heavy duty oil guy and CEO of the renowned Halliburton corporation before going back into politics to become Bush II's Rasputin. Given his oily persona he has taken a keen interest in the Iraqi oil fields and the multinational oil companies' access to them. His dishonesty with the American people about the War in Iraq is only matched by Rumsfeld and the President himself. Cheney too is likely to be hounded by litigation in the years ahead arising from his war time actions, the cost of which - like Rumsfeld's - is likely to be paid by the U.S. taxpayer. Cheney too never wore a U.S. military uniform.
And now an unlikely character emerges out of the shadows. A forty year old cherubic, portly, Texas motormouth, Scott McClellan, a former press secretary to Bush II from 2003 to 2006. Like Tenet and Powell, the frat boy and political groupie has written a book of his White House experience. Its weighty title is 'What happened.' In his oeuvre he claims to have had grave misgivings about Bush's Presidency. Bush, he said, was interested in carrying on a permanent campaign and not thoughtfully and objectively addressing issues. He further opined that the Plame incident, Hurricane Katrina, and the war were all badly handled. McClellan, like Tenet and Powell, did not see fit to quit and publicly criticize the administration. In fact, he was pushed out of his press secretary job. Thus, the mayhem and abuses continued with not a peep from McClellan - until now.
Like Tenet and Powell, McLellan resurrects the memory of Albert Speer. Speer, you will remember, was the brilliant German Nazi architect who masterminded much of the Third Reich's wartime plans and was responsible for maintaining the production of armaments during the war. While he was on trial in Nuremberg after the war, he did a mea culpa and apologized. Thus he, unlike many of his colleagues, escaped the gallows and was out of the Spandau jail after a measly twenty years.
The consequences for the Bush sad cast of characters are not as serious as they were for Speer and his cronys. However, one can see the same process taking place. They are in effect apologizing or making excuses to avoid the wrath of history in the years ahead.
With friends like these running the country, the United States certainly needs no enemies. The Bush years were a perfect storm - a dumb, ideologically driven, uncurious President surrounded by reckless and cowardly ideologues like himself, or weaklings who although they may have known better, did nothing to stop the carnage. So history will judge.