WASHINGTON (CNN) -- Former White House spokesman Scott McClellan says top administration officials -- including President Bush and Vice President Dick Cheney -- were involved in his "unknowingly" passing along false information about the leak of a CIA operative's identity.
Then-White House spokesman Scott McClellan briefs reporters in 2006.
In October 2003, as controversy grew about the leak of Valerie Plame's name, McClellan stood at the White House podium and told reporters that Karl Rove, the president's top political adviser, and I. Lewis "Scooter" Libby, Cheney's chief of staff, had not been involved.
"There was one problem. It was not true," McClellan writes in his new book, "What Happened," which is to be released in April.
The excerpt, which consists of just three paragraphs from a 400-page book, reads in full:
"The most powerful leader in the world had called upon me to speak on his behalf and help restore credibility he lost amid the failure to find weapons of mass destruction in Iraq. So I stood at the White House briefing room podium in front of the glare of the klieg lights for the better part of two weeks and publicly exonerated two of the senior-most aides in the White House: Karl Rove and Scooter Libby.
"There was one problem. It was not true.
"I had unknowingly passed along false information. And five of the highest ranking officials in the administration were involved in my doing so: Rove, Libby, the vice president, the president's chief of staff, and the president himself."
McClellan has not given any specifics about how he believes Bush, Cheney, Libby, Rove and then-Chief of Staff Andrew Card were involved in the dissemination of the false information.
Asked about the released excerpt, White House spokesman Scott Stanzel said, "The president has not misled his spokespeople, nor would he."
There was no immediate comment from McClellan, who served as White House press secretary from July 2003 until April 2006.
In March, Libby was convicted of perjury and obstruction of justice for lying to investigators and a federal grand jury about his contacts with reporters concerning Plame. She is the wife of Joe Wilson, a former U.S. ambassador who accused the Bush administration of misrepresenting intelligence on Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein's weapons of mass destruction in the run-up to the invasion of Iraq.
Just before Libby was to report to a federal prison in July to serve 30 months behind bars, Bush commuted his sentence, although the president stopped short of a full pardon and Libby still had to pay a $250,000 fine.
Rove, who left the White House staff at the end of August, was not charged in the case. But his lawyer has acknowledged he was one of two sources cited by syndicated columnist Bob Novak, who first reported in the summer of 2003 that Plame worked for the CIA.
Former Deputy Secretary of State Richard Armitage has since acknowledged that he was Novak's original source for the information that Plame worked at the CIA, although he said the disclosure was not deliberate and he did not know at the time she was a covert agent.
Because deliberately leaking a CIA operative's name can be a federal crime, a special prosecutor, Patrick Fitzgerald, was appointed to investigate the case.
However, no one was charged in connection with the leak itself; Libby's charges resulted from statements he made during the investigation. E-mail to a friend