Washington, May 29 : Former White House press secretary Scott McClellan was the ultimate Bush loyalist, and his criticism of the latter in his book, has taken most by surprise.
He went to work for George W. Bush when he was Texas governor in 1999, helped Bush gain the White House in 2000, and then came to Washington to defend the president for the next six years on such issues as the war in Iraq and Hurricane Katrina.
McClellan's explosive new book now alleges that the Bush Administration waged a "political propaganda campaign" in favour of the Iraq war and bungled the response to the storm that devastated the Gulf Coast.
This has prompted a counter attack from some of his oldest political colleagues, who accused him of disloyalty and questioned his credibility.
Dana Perino, the current White House press secretary, said the president was "surprised" by McClellan's assertions.
"He is puzzled, and he doesn't recognize this as the Scott McClellan that he hired and confided in and worked with for so many years," Perino said, adding that Bush was "disappointed that if he had these concerns and these thoughts, he never came to him or anyone else on the staff."
Former Bush political adviser Karl Rove compared McClellan to a "left-wing blogger," and former White House counsellor Dan Bartlett told CNN it was "misguided for him to make these kind of broad accusations and draw these big conclusions about the president."
Several former Bush administration officials have written tell-all accounts. In one book published this month, retired Army Lt. Gen. Ricardo Sanchez accuses Bush and his top advisers of "gross incompetence and dereliction of duty" for their handling of the Iraq war.
But, according to the Washington Post, none was as close to Bush or his inner circle as McClellan, 40, an amiable Texas native who was widely known for his cautious demeanour.