Oh, the deflation today after some of the overnight buzz — that the WSJ and Bloomberg were going to nail Dick Cheney — fell flat. (‘course, there are always tonight’s editions.)

Now there’s all this buzz about the little-known White House Iraq Group whose documents — as I quoted yesterday from a 2004 Newsday article — were subpoenaed clear back in 2004 by Patrick Fitzgerald (Grand Jury List of Witnesses & Documents [from 2004], Oct. 11, 2005).

“The news is flying fast and furious this evening,” wrote a breathless Jane Hamsher last night at FireDogLake. “Raw Story has an excerpt from tomorrow’s WSJ saying that the investigation may have broadened to include the whole of the White House Iraq Group.”

But that “excerpt” turned out to be this ho-hummer: “Lawyers familiar with the investigation believe that at least part of the outcome likely hangs on the inner workings of what has been dubbed the White House Iraq Group.” (WSJ, Oct. 12, 2005)

In the spirit of entertaining speculation, let’s look at some snapshots of the primary members of the nearly secret WHIG that sold the American people, the media, and the Congress on the Iraq war. And how. By the way, if you’re hip, or you read Catnip’s fine piece last night, you now know that WHIG stands for White House Iraq Group.

First — and this is an exclusive! — here’s WHIG’s mascot:

WHIG FOUNDER — and presidential cheeseburger fetcher1 — is President Bush’s Chief of Staff Andrew Card.

Quotable Card, on selling the war in Iraq: “From a marketing point of view you don’t introduce new products in August.”

Dishing: Writes Billmon, “If Howard Fineman is right, and Andrew Card really is making a move to topple Karl Rove, then this country could be in a heap of trouble. … “I’m not a very smart person,” Card says. “I have to work really hard at remembering things.” … “When I interviewed him, I could tell fairly quickly that [he] definitely wasn’t the sharpest chisel in the White House toolbox.” However, according to Sourcewatch, he’s known as a consensus builder.


1From “Ron Suskind’s as-told-to account of former Treasury Secretary Paul O’Neill’s stormy tenure, The Price of Loyalty, reports Billmon:

“Go get me Andy Card,” Bush said to one of the Secret Service agents. Card, the designee as chief of staff, entered from an adjoining room . . . Bush looked impatiently at Card, hard-eyed. “You’re the chief of staff. You think you’re up to getting us some cheeseburgers?”

Card nodded. No one laughed. He all but raced out of the room.


Below the fold are profiles of the other ruthless, relentless WHIGs who sold the war: Karl Rove, Karen Hughes, Mary Matalin, James R. Wilkinson, Nicholas E. Calio, Condoleezza Rice, Stephen Hadley and I. Lewis (Scooter) Libby …

WHIG CHAIR: Karl Rove, deputy White House chief of staff.

Quotable Rove: ‘Conservatives saw the savagery of 9/11 in the attacks and prepared for war,’ Rove said in a New York speech. ‘Liberals saw the savagery of the 9/11 attacks and wanted to prepare indictments and offer therapy and understanding for our attackers.”

Dish: Too much to mention here, but his trickery has been going on a long time, the Plame leak being one of his latest efforts to undo opponents. Reports SourceWatch, “In Texas, he earn a reputation for being a savage political strategist, willing to engage in dirty tricks.” Rove is best known as “Bush’s Brain,” from the book and documentary with the same name.


WHIG MEMBER: Karen Hughes — who returned to D.C. this year, and was confirmed as Under Secretary of State for Public Diplomacy and Public Affairs — left her post as “counselor to the president” in July 2002.

Did her 2002 return to motherhood and apple pies in Texas mean that Hughes was no longer in the loop, or a strategist for WHIG? Not at all. According to the AP in April 2003 (shortly after the war began):

Hughes remains tapped into Washington. As part of a contract with the Republican National Committee, Hughes continues to advise the president. She said she talks with him “several times a week.”

She also maintains close contact with Dan Bartlett, her successor at the White House, as well as national security adviser Condoleezza Rice [WHIG member] and chief of staff Andrew Card [WHIG founder].

“People ask me all the time, ‘How’s retirement?’ ” she told the Houston Chronicle in Sunday’s editions. “I never said anything about retiring.”

Quotable about Hughes: “During a “town hall” meeting for State Department employees held on September 8, 2005, she described her plans to improve US image abroad in militaristic phrases, outlining a “rapid-response unit” and “forward-deploy regional SWAT teams” to “formulate a more strategic and focused approach to all our public diplomacy assets.” (Sourcewatch)

Dish: “With these well-meaning arguments, Hughes has provided the exact proofs for Bin Laden’s claims about American motives. ‘It is stunning to the extent Hughes is helping bin Laden,’ says Robert Pape, a University of Chicago political scientist who has conducted extensive research into the motives of suicide terrorists and is the author of Dying to Win: The Strategic Logic of Suicide Terrorism. ‘If you set out to help bin Laden,” he says, “you could not have done it better than Hughes.'” (Sourcewatch)


WHIG MEMBER: James R. Wilkinson, former director of strategic communications for General Tommy R. Franks, and deputy national security advisor for communications as of December 2003. (Sourcewatch)

Dish — Talk about Dish!

(SIGH — Jim looks like SUCH A NICE YOUNG MAN — especially in those MANLY CAMOUFLAGE FATIGUES that he wears to work!):

  • “Former Bush campaign aide Jim Wilkinson, (forever seared into the American psyche as the spokesman for GOP Miami-based protesters clamoring to stop the Florida ballot re-count during the 2000 election) has been hired as Tommy Frank’s top spokesperson at the media center, and will be responsible for overseeing 42 military public affairs officers charged with managing hundreds of international correspondents covering the war. … (Sourcewatch)
  • “Wilkinson first left his mark on the 2000 Presidential race in March 1999, when he helped package and promote the notion that Al Gore claimed to have ‘invented the Internet.’ Then the Texan popped up in Miami to defend Republican protesters shutting down a recount: ‘We find it interesting that when Jesse Jackson has thousands of protesters in the streets, it’s O.K., but when a small number of Republicans exercise their First Amendment rights, the Democrats don’t seem to like it,’ he told the Associated Press.” (Sourcewatch)
  • In Qatar, he became the point man on the rescue of Pvt. Jessica Lynch and delivered the most memorable and sellable quote of Gulf War II: ‘America doesn’t leave its heroes behind,‘ he told reporters at a late-night briefing.” (Sourcewatch)

  • 22 October 2003, Salon.com: Karl Rove’s “choice as director of communications for the convention is none other than Jim Wilkinson, the flack who left so many reporters furious last spring when he handled Pentagon press relations at the Iraq War headquarters, U.S. Central Command in Doha, Qatar.” (Sourcewatch)
  • “In other words, the media center that’s been built by the military, has been designed, in part, by the Hollywood art director who adds the Orwellian ambiance to George Bush’s speeches. And to make matters worse, this entire public affairs operation is headed Jim Wilkinson, one of the thugs who protested the Florida recount.

         “Ever the good soldier, (though a civilian, Wilkinson reportedly wears a military desert camouflage uniform to work), Wilkinson is poised to ‘manage’ journalists working at the center, many of whom are currently enjoying Ritz-Carlton accommodations, open bars and free buffets and belly dancing. ‘It’s a first-class war,’ said Peter Lloyd, correspondent for Australian Broadcasting Corp.” (Sourcewatch)

Quotable: “President Saddam Hussein is seeking uniforms that are ‘identical down to the last detail’ to those worn by American and British troops, so that atrocities carried out by Iraqi forces could be blamed on the allies, a senior Defense Department official said Thursday. … James R. Wilkinson, chief spokesman for the U.S. Central Command, said Hussein had ordered the uniforms for use by members of his paramilitary force, Fedayeen Saddam. …
    These forces, Wilkinson said, ‘would wear them when conducting reprisals against the Iraqi people so that they could pass the atrocities off as the work of the United States and the United Kingdom.'” (Sourcewatch)

(Jesus! He’s certifiable!)


WHIG MEMBER: Mary Matalin, former assistant to President George W. Bush and counselor to Vice President Dick Cheney, and the first White House official to hold a double title.” (Sourcewatch)

Quotable: ‘[S]he worked closely with Scooter Libby — the Vice President’s chief of staff who was one of Matt Cooper’s sources.” (ThinkProgress)

Dish: “Matalin also co-authored the best-selling political campaign book All’s Fair: Love, War and Running for President with her husband, James Carville, who was the chief campaign strategist for Clinton/Gore in 1992.” (Sourcewatch)


WHIG MEMBER Nicholas E. Calio: Now Citigroup’s Senior Vice President for Global Government Affairs, Mr. Calio served in the White House as Assistant to the President for Legislative Affairs from January 2001 to January 2003. (Citigroup bio)

In other words, Mr. Calio sold the war to Congress.

With his sales job completed –“The Authorization for Use of Military Force Against Iraq Resolution of 2002, Public Law 107-243,” was issued on October 16, 2002 — he left the White House in January 2003.

Dish: “Mr. Calio was a partner at O’Brien & Calio, a law and lobbying firm he co-founded in 1993. A 1998 ‘Fortune’ magazine survey of Members of Congress, Congressional staff, Administration staff, and Washington lobbyists rated the firm as one of ‘the ten most powerful’ in Washington. Mr. Calio started the firm after leaving the first Bush Administration, during which he also served as Deputy Assistant to the President in charge of relations with the House of Representatives” (1989-1991).” (Sourcewatch)


WHIG MEMBER: Condoleezza Rice, former National Security Advisor and now U.S. Secretary of State. (Sourcewatch)

Quotable: “As history marches toward markets and democracy, some states have been left by the side of the road. Iraq is the prototype. Saddam Hussein’s regime is isolated, his conventional military power has been severely weakened, his people live in poverty and terror, and he has no useful place in international politics. He is therefore determined to develop WMD. Nothing will change until Saddam is gone, so the United States must mobilize whatever resources it can, including support from his opposition, to remove him.” (Sourcewatch)

Dish: “In September 2002 Rice also insisted that Hussein was pursuing nuclear weapons. “We do know that he is actively pursuing a nuclear weapon,” she said on CNN’s Late Edition with Wolf Blitzer on September 8 2002. “The problem here is that there will always be some uncertainty about how quickly he can acquire nuclear weapons. But we don’t want the smoking gun to be a mushroom cloud.” [28] [29].

After Iraq delivered its declaration of weapons of mass destruction to the United Nations on December 8, 2002, it was Rice who wrote and submitted an editorial to the New York Times claiming that it “fails to account for or explain Iraq’s efforts to get uranium from abroad, its manufacture of specific fuel for ballistic missiles it claims not to have, and the gaps previously identified by the United Nations in Iraq’s accounting for more than two tons of the raw materials needed to produce thousands of gallons of anthrax and other biological weapons.” [30]

The following year Rice was still touting the long-discredited claims – albeit somewhat qualified – about Iraq seeking uranium from Africa as justification for the war. “At the time that the State of the Union address was prepared, there were also other sources that said that they were, the Iraqis were seeking yellow cake, uranium oxide from Africa,” Rice said on This Week with George Stephanopolous on the U.S. ABC network. [31]

In a February 2003 interview with Larry King Live, Rice claimed there was no doubt about the al Qaeda connection. “…What emerges is a picture of a Saddam Hussein who became impressed with what al Qaeda did after it bombed our embassies in 1998 in Kenya and Tanzania, began to give them assistance in chemical and biological weapons, something that they were having trouble achieving on their own, that harbored a terrorist network under this man Zarqawi, despite the fact that Saddam Hussein was told that Zarqawi was there,” she said. [32] (Sourcewatch)


WHIG MEMBER: Stephen Hadley, National Security Advisor (WaPo) who fell on his sword over the yellow cake uranium claims

Dish: ” Hadley Came Clean After CIA Memos Surfaced, TheLeftCoaster, July 22, 2003: “Now we know why Stephen Hadley suddenly came clean today: the CIA reminded the White House that they had not one but two memos that proved the Administration was in fact alerted to Agency concerns about the reliability of the African uranium claims months before the SOTU, memos which undermined most of the White House shifting blame jobs of the last two weeks. And memos that showed that Condi Rice has in fact been lying that no one at a senior level in the Administration has known about these concerns until recently.” (Sourcewatch)


WHIG MEMBER: Lewis “Scooter” Libby, Assistant to the President and Chief of Staff to Vice President Dick Cheney (Sourcewatch)

Quotable: Libby told special prosecutor Patrick Fitzgerald that he first learned Plame’s identity from Tim Russert. Russert said in a statement last year that he told the prosecutor that “he did not know Ms. Plame’s name or that she was a CIA operative” and that he did not provide such information to Libby in July 2003. [Bloomberg, 7/22/05] (ThinkProgress)

Dish: Cheney and Libby visited the CIA headquarters to engage the CIA analysts directly on this issue of uranium acquisition in Africa, “creating an environment in which some analysts felt they were being pressured to make their assessments fit with the Bush administration’s policy objectives.” [Washington Post, 6/5/03]
    MEMBER OF THE WHITE HOUSE IRAQ GROUP: Libby was a regular participant in the weekly meetings of the Bush Administration’s White House Iraq Group. The main purpose of the group was the systematic coordination of the “marketing” of going to war with Iraq as well as selling the war here at home. One clear example of this fact is that “the escalation of nuclear rhetoric” during the pre-war stage, “including the introduction of the term ‘mushroom cloud’ into the debate, coincided with the formation” of WHIG. The group included the other individual who has been confirmed as a leaker, Karl Rove. [Washington Post, 8/10/03] (ThinkProgress)

So there you have it: The group that sold the Iraq war.

From Glengarry Glen Ross:

George Aaronow: When I talk to the police I get nervous.

Ricky Roma: Yes. You know who doesn’t?

George Aaronow: Who?

Ricky Roma: Thieves.


[after learning that the Lingk sale has been filed]

Ricky Roma: You filed it, that puts me over the fuckin’ top, I want my Cadillac. I don’t wanna hear no fuckin’ shit and I don’t give a shit. Lingk puts me over the top. You filed it, it went downtown, now you owe me the car.

Ricky Roma: All train compartments smell vaguely of shit. It gets so you don’t mind it. That’s the worst thing that I can confess. You know how long it took me to get there? A long time. When you die you’re going to regret the things you don’t do. You think you’re queer? I’m going to tell you something: we’re all queer. You think you’re a thief? So what? You get befuddled by a middle-class morality? Get shut of it. Shut it out. You cheat on your wife? You did it, live with it. You fuck little girls, so be it. There’s an absolute morality? Maybe. And then what? If you think there is, go ahead, be that thing. Bad people go to hell? I don’t think so. If you think that, act that way. A hell exists on earth? Yes. I won’t live in it. That’s me.

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