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Former Bush Aide Says Iraq Invasion Was Blunder

A controversial new book by former White House Spokesman Scott McClellan says President Bush's decision to invade Iraq five years ago was a serious strategic blunder. VOA White House Correspondent Scott Stearns reports, the Bush administration has rejected those allegations, and the president on Wednesday defended his decision to invade iraq.

McClellan spent more than seven years working for Mr. Bush, first in the Texas governor's office, then at the White House, where he was the president's top spokesman for nearly three years.

So, McClellan's highly critical new book portraying the president as an out-of-touch leader, who refuses to admit mistakes has drawn sharp responses from those still backing the president.

Current White House Spokeswoman Dana Perino says McClellan is disgruntled about his experience, which she says is sad. She says those who supported McClellan before, during and after he was press secretary are puzzled, because this is not the McClellan they knew.

The former head of the White House counter-terrorism office, Fran Townsend, told CNN that it strikes her that McClellan's decision to write this book now is self-serving and unprofessional.

In excerpts published by The New York Times and The Washington Post, McClellan writes that the president almost guaranteed that the use of force would become the only feasible option in Iraq by relying on what he calls an aggressive political propaganda campaign, instead of the truth, to justify a war that he says was not necessary. He called the war a "grave mistake."

The president's former top political adviser, Karl Rove, told Fox News Channel that he does not recall McClellan ever speaking about his concerns.

"This doesn't sound like Scott, it really doesn't," he said. "Not the Scott McClellan I've known for a long time. Second of all, it sounds like somebody else, it sounds like a left-wing blogger."

The book is an unusually negative account of the Bush White House from a Texas insider, who strongly defended the war in Iraq just months before he resigned his post in 2006.

"This is a president that believes we must lead and act," he said. "We have achieved great things over the last four or five years, but there is much work to do."

In his new book, McClellan now admits that some of the statements he made to the public were "badly misguided," but he said he was sincere at the time.

White House spokeswoman Dana Perino says McClellan's book has been described to the president, but she does not expect Mr. Bush to make any formal response.

Speaking at graduation ceremonies for the U.S. Air Force Academy in the southwest state of Colorado, President Bush again justified the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan as necessary to preventing another terrorist attack at home.

"Success will come when Iraq and Afghanistan are strong and capable allies in the war on terror," he said. "Men and women of the Air Force, these successes will come, and, when they do, our nation will have achieved victory and the American people will be more secure."

When McClellan stepped down in April of 2006, he said he had been honored and grateful to be a small part of what he called a terrific and talented team of really good people.

President Bush said at the time that McClellan had handled his assignment with class and integrity. Mr. Bush imagined them one day sitting in rocking chairs in Texas talking about the good old days and McClellan's time as press secretary.

McClellan's book, titled What Happened: Inside the White House and Washington's Culture of Deception is scheduled to be released on June 1.