Whiggate Update

Thursday, June 12, 2008
Dennis Kucinich introduced 35 detailed articles of impeachment by reading them aloud for four hours on the floor of the House on the night of June 9th.
You can read the whole horrifying litany of the crimes of the Bush/Cheney years by reading the full text here, but I'm going to cut and paste all of Article I, because the White House Iraq Group takes pride of place in this first of 35 crimes.


In his conduct while President of the United States, George W. Bush, in violation of his constitutional oath to faithfully execute the office of President of the United States and, to the best of his ability, preserve, protect, and defend the Constitution of the United States, and in violation of his constitutional duty under Article II, Section 3 of the Constitution "to take care that the laws be faithfully executed," has both personally and acting through his agents and subordinates, together with the Vice President, illegally spent public dollars on a secret propaganda program to manufacture a false cause for war against Iraq.

The Department of Defense (DOD) has engaged in a years-long secret domestic propaganda campaign to promote the invasion and occupation of Iraq. This secret program was defended by the White House Press Secretary following its exposure. This program follows the pattern of crimes detailed in Article I, II, IV and VIII. The mission of this program placed it within the field controlled by the White House Iraq Group (WHIG), a White House task force formed in August 2002 to market an invasion of Iraq to the American people. The group included Karl Rove, I. Lewis Libby, Condoleezza Rice, Karen Hughes, Mary Matalin, Stephen Hadley, Nicholas E. Calio, and James R. Wilkinson.

The WHIG produced white papers detailing so-called intelligence of Iraq’s nuclear threat that later proved to be false. This supposed intelligence included the claim that Iraq had sought uranium from Niger as well as the claim that the high strength aluminum tubes Iraq purchased from China were to be used for the sole purpose of building centrifuges to enrich uranium. Unlike the National Intelligence Estimate of 2002, the WHIG's white papers provided "gripping images and stories" and used "literary license" with intelligence. The WHIG's white papers were written at the same time and by the same people as speeches and talking points prepared for President Bush and some of his top officials.

The WHIG also organized a media blitz in which, between September 7-8, 2002, President Bush and his top advisers appeared on numerous interviews and all provided similarly gripping images about the possibility of nuclear attack by Iraq. The timing was no coincidence, as Andrew Card explained in an interview regarding waiting until after Labor Day to try to sell the American people on military action against Iraq, "From a marketing point of view, you don't introduce new products in August."

September 7-8, 2002:

NBC’s “Meet the Press”: Vice President Cheney accused Saddam of moving aggressively to develop nuclear weapons over the past 14 months to add to his stockpile of chemical and biological arms.

CNN: Then-National Security Adviser Rice said, regarding the likelihood of Iraq obtaining a nuclear weapon, "We don't want the smoking gun to be a mushroom cloud."

CBS: President Bush declared that Saddam was "six months away from developing a weapon," and cited satellite photos of construction in Iraq where weapons inspectors once visited as evidence that Saddam was trying to develop nuclear arms.

The Pentagon military analyst propaganda program was revealed in an April 20, 2002 [should read 2008], New York Times article. The program illegally involved "covert attempts to mold opinion through the undisclosed use of third parties.” Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld recruited 75 retired military officers and gave them talking points to deliver on Fox, CNN, ABC, NBC, CBS, and MSNBC, and according to the New York Times report, which has not been disputed by the Pentagon or the White House, "Participants were instructed not to quote their briefers directly or otherwise describe their contacts with the Pentagon."

According to the Pentagon's own internal documents, the military analysts were considered "message force multipliers" or "surrogates" who would deliver administration "themes and messages" to millions of Americans "in the form of their own opinions.” In fact, they did deliver the themes and the messages but did not reveal that the Pentagon had provided them with their talking points. Robert S. Bevelacqua, a retired Green Beret and Fox News military analyst described this as follows: "It was them saying, 'We need to stick our hands up your back and move your mouth for you.'"

Congress has restricted annual appropriations bills since 1951 with this language: "No part of any appropriation contained in this or any other Act shall be used for publicity or propaganda purposes within the United States not heretofore authorized by the Congress."

A March 21, 2005, report by the Congressional Research Service states that "publicity or propaganda" is defined by the U.S. Government Accountability Office (GAO) to mean either (1) self-aggrandizement by public officials, (2) purely partisan activity, or (3) "covert propaganda."

These concerns about "covert propaganda" were also the basis for the GAO's standard for determining when government-funded video news releases are illegal:

"The failure of an agency to identify itself as the source of a prepackaged news story misleads the viewing public by encouraging the viewing audience to believe that the broadcasting news organization developed the information. The prepackaged news stories are purposefully designed to be indistinguishable from news segments broadcast to the public. When the television viewing public does not know that the stories they watched on television news programs about the government were in fact prepared by the government, the stories are, in this sense, no longer purely factual -- the essential fact of attribution is missing."

The White House's own Office of Legal Council stated in a memorandum written in 2005 following the controversy over the Armstrong Williams scandal:

"Over the years, GAO has interpreted 'publicity or propaganda' restrictions to preclude use of appropriated funds for, among other things, so-called 'covert propaganda.' ... Consistent with that view, the OLC determined in 1988 that a statutory prohibition on using appropriated funds for 'publicity or propaganda' precluded undisclosed agency funding of advocacy by third-party groups. We stated that 'covert attempts to mold opinion through the undisclosed use of third parties' would run afoul of restrictions on using appropriated funds for 'propaganda.'"

Asked about the Pentagon's propaganda program at White House press briefing in April 2008, White House Press Secretary Dana Perino defended it, not by arguing that it was legal but by suggesting that it "should" be: "Look, I didn't know look, I think that you guys should take a step back and look at this look, DOD has made a decision, they've decided to stop this program. But I would say that one of the things that we try to do in the administration is get information out to a variety of people so that everybody else can call them and ask their opinion about something. And I don't think that that should be against the law. And I think that it's absolutely appropriate to provide information to people who are seeking it and are going to be providing their opinions on it. It doesn't necessarily mean that all of those military analysts ever agreed with the administration. I think you can go back and look and think that a lot of their analysis was pretty tough on the administration. That doesn't mean that we shouldn't talk to people."

In all of these actions and decisions, President George W. Bush has acted in a manner contrary to his trust as President and Commander in Chief, and subversive of constitutional government, to the prejudice of the cause of law and justice and to the manifest injury of the people of the United States. Wherefore, President George W. Bush, by such conduct, is guilty of an impeachable offense warranting removal from office.
But, of course, the New York Times still has not verified the existence of the White House Iraq Group by mentioning it in its news pages.
I certainly don't expect them to run any long excerpts from these 35 articles of impeachment, but you can read them here if you made it through Article I without smashing your computer screen.

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Monday, June 09, 2008
  Walter Pincus still digging for WHIG information
Without the reporting of Walter Pincus in the Washington Post, we might never have learned about the the White House Iraq Group. His key article, "Depiction of Threat Outgrew Supporting Evidence," written with Barton Gellman and printed on page A1 on August 10, 2003, was the first that I know of to spell out the structure and members and methods of the White House Iraq Group (WHIG) and call it by its name and abbreviation.

Today Walter Pincus is still digging for information about this group. In "Records Could Shed Light on Iraq Group," published today, he highlights the omissions in last week's Senate Intelligence Committee report on prewar exaggerations -- they did not seek out any "less formal" White House communications, obtain White House records, or interview President Bush or Vice President Cheney, because "such steps were considered beyond the scope of the report."

One obvious target for such an expanded inquiry would have been the records of the White House Iraq Group (WHIG), a group set up in August 2002 by then-White House Chief of Staff Andrew H. Card Jr.

Pincus then goes on in today's short article to recap the key known members and activities of the White House Iraq Group, enhanced with some of Scott McClellan's recently-added revelations (or confirmations), before concluding:

WHIG's records would shed much light on whether, as Sen. John D. Rockefeller IV (D-W.Va.), chairman of the intelligence panel, put it: "In making the case for war, the administration repeatedly presented intelligence as fact when it was unsubstantiated, contradicted or even nonexistent."

..... you can also read the transcript of a short interview between Bill Moyers
and Walter Pincus on the subject of WHIG by clicking here.
..... and, in case you're wondering, No, The New York Times still has not mentioned "White House Iraq Group" or "WHIG" (in this new meaning) in its news pages. Can the Group have really existed without the Paper of Record having printed an official record of its existence?

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Friday, June 06, 2008
  WHIG of the Week Scott McClellan (Part Two, The Video)
I just watched more of Bill O'Reilly than I've seen in my life in watching this video, "O'Reilly Goes Ballistic on McClellan," but you can skip right to the 3'29" marker to hear the section that's most relevant to the purposes of the WHIGgate Update blog.

Here's the transcript of the section about "catapulting the propaganda" using the White House Iraq Group, as transcribed in Crooks and Liars:

Bill O’Reilly: You said they used propaganda and that is a loaded word.
Scott McClellan: The White House Iraq group, the White House Iraq Group was set up, it’s a marketing arm for selling the a war. That was a specific purpose that I talked about in the book
BO: Because they fervently believed that the guy was a danger and could hand his weapons off.
SM: No because the President had a bigger driving motivation which was to transform the middle east.
BO: You telling me that President Bush didn’t believe they had the,
SM: No, he did too. He believed that too.
BO:That’s not propaganda then, that’s not propaganda.
SM: It is when you package it all together—over sell it and over state it to the American people. That is propaganda.

Propaganda may be a loaded word in O'Reilly's mind, but Scott McClellan gets his definition of the word directly from his former boss:
... third time I've said that. (Laughter.) I'll probably say it three more times. See, in my line of work you got to keep repeating things over and over and over again for the truth to sink in, to kind of catapult the propaganda. (Applause.)

-- George W. Bush, 24 May 2005 (text and stage cues from the whitehouse.gov transcript)

You can see a video of the Catapult the Propaganda quote here.

If you can stand watching the whole interview video, it's also interesting to see the way that O'Reilly goes on about how "everyone" believed Iraq had WMDs because they read it in The New York Times; I just wish that Scott would have pointed out how Judith Miller of the Times was being used as a tool -- perhaps the key tool -- in the catapulting the propaganda about Saddam's scary aluminum tubes.

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Thursday, June 05, 2008
  "WHIG of The Week" Returns With a New WHIG, Scott McClellan
OK. I know that WHIGgate.org has been very inactive lately, but the fact is that it started with high hopes (and what turned out, of course, to have been false hopes) that the American people and their representatives in Congress and the "independent" flag-waving American mass media would come to their senses and hold the war criminals of the Bush Administration responsible for waging a war of aggression on manufactured evidence. The White House Iraq Group seemed like the perfect frame in which to tell the story of those lies, and the way they were sold to us.

Despite the fact that we seem to be OK with being lied to, I couldn't help posting this new entry for nobody to read when I ran across the following question and answer in the transcript of a Washington Post Book World online discussion from May 30:

Rhode Island: Hi. I hope this question doesn't sound confrontational. My understanding is that you didn't become press secretary until a year or so after the Iraq war began. Can you tell us about what your role was before that? Were you privy to high-level discussions in the lead-up to the war? Thanks.
Scott McClellan: I became press secretary on July 15, 2003, a few months after the initial invasion. Prior to that, I served as the principal deputy press secretary. I was not involved in the policy-making on Iraq or in developing the overall marketing strategy for selling the war to the public. I did fill in for my predecessor at times, and even participated in some White House Iraq Group, or WHIG meetings. WHIG was set up as the marketing arm for selling the war to the public.

I'm not sure that I've seen the White House Iraq Group referred to by name and by its WHIG designation so clearly by a White House official who took part in their meetings. I find it very impressive that the author of What Happened was not responding to a specific question about the Group or its role; Scott McClellan brought the names up unprompted, and followed up with the perfect one-sentence definition: "WHIG was set up as the marketing arm for selling the war to the public."

When America's Paper of Record, The New York Times, still has not mentioned the "White House Iraq Group" in its news pages [only in Frank Rich's columns], then it's not surprising that even some of us who track down these scattered references begin to doubt the group's existence and/or importance. Scott's nonchalant confirmation of its name and its role is striking (but not as striking as the continuing silence from the "liberal" Times). WHIGgate Update will come roaring back with another post if the Times ever writes about the Group in its news pages [click here to see if they do], but don't hold your breath. We don't expect to see anything until we're well into the Obama administration and they can treat this Bush-regime story in quaint historical context, not as a crime that demands immediate prosecution.

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formerly WHIGGATE.org
The White House Iraq Group (WHIG), with members Rove, Card, Rice, Libby, Matalin, Hughes, Hadley et al., is the group that sold us the Iraq War with false information, and tried to silence one prominent critic by exposing a CIA agent's identity.
WHIGGATE is the scandal that will bring [or should have brought] down the Bush/Cheney Administration.
WHIGGATE UPDATE is a clearing house for information about this group and its activities.



White House Iraq Group on Wikipedia
White House Iraq Group on SourceWatch
WHIG Timeline at Democrats.org
Patrick Fitzgerald's official website
Pentagon Iraq Group (PIG) a.k.a. OSP
21 Plame suspects on Think Progress
Key Washington Post article 10 Aug 03
CBS on the WHIG subpoena of 22 Jan 04
First appearance of "WHIGgate" 12 Jul 05
The Crisis Papers of 19 Jul 05
Judy & Tubes of Terror Moore 3 Aug 05
Raw Story WHIG/Cheney links 12 Oct 05
Rich on WHIG in the NY Times 16 Oct 05
Kucinich Resolution of Inquiry 20 Oct 05
Libby Indictment 28 Oct 05
Rall "Bigger Than Watergate" 1 Nov 05
Snake Oil Merchants at tvnewslies.org
Articles of Impeachment 10 Jun 08


Karl Rove
Who's Who in Washington Post
SourceWatch Biography
Andrew H. Card
WHIG of the Week entry on WU
Official White House Biography
SourceWatch Biography
I. Lewis Libby
Official White House Biography
SourceWatch Biography
PDF of Libby Indictment 28 Oct 05
Karen Hughes
WHIG of the Week entry on WU
Official State Department Biography
BuzzFlash Article
SourceWatch Biography
Mary Matalin
Biography at American President.org
SourceWatch Biography
James R. Wilkinson
WHIG of the Week entry on WU
Official White House Biography
SourceWatch Biography
Nicholas E. Calio
WHIG of the Week entry on WU
Official CitiGroup Biography
SourceWatch Biography
Stephen J. Hadley
WHIG of the Week entry on WU
Official White House Biography
SourceWatch Biography
Condoleezza Rice
Official White House Biography
Official State Department Biography
SourceWatch Biography
Scott McClellan
Scott's WHIG of the Week entry on WU

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According to the results of free non-scientific online tests, TBL found that he was "Existentialist", "Communist", and "A Grammar God," i.e., if he were a short wall-eyed Frenchman rather than a 6'3" blond American, he would be constantly mistaken for Jean-Paul Sartre!

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