[Marxism] The Great Conspiracy - How the "intelligence and facts" were "fixed around the policy"

Brian Shannon Brian_Shannon at verizon.net
Sun Oct 16 20:53:15 MDT 2005

Every week, I am astounded at the memory, data, files--however it is 
gathered--and the logic and clarity with which it is used by Frank Rich 
to explain the Bush House. Here's his latest and in my opinion his 

Brian Shannon


Frank Rich, NY Times*
October 16, 2005

. . .
Now, as always, what matters most in this case is not whether Mr. Rove 
and Lewis Libby engaged in a petty conspiracy to seek revenge on a 
whistle-blower, Joseph Wilson, by unmasking his wife, Valerie, a covert 
C.I.A. officer. What makes Patrick Fitzgerald’s investigation 
compelling, whatever its outcome, is its illumination of a conspiracy 
that was not at all petty: the one that took us on false premises into 
a reckless and wasteful war in Iraq. That conspiracy was instigated by 
Mr. Rove’s boss, George W. Bush, and Mr. Libby’s boss, Dick Cheney.

Mr. Wilson and his wife were trashed to protect that larger plot. 
Because the personnel in both stories overlap, the bits and pieces 
we’ve learned about the leak inquiry over the past two years have 
gradually helped fill in the über-narrative about the war. Last week 
was no exception. Deep in a Wall Street Journal account of Judy 
Miller’s grand jury appearance was this crucial sentence: “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.”

Very little has been written about the White House Iraq Group, or WHIG. 
Its inception in August 2002, seven months before the invasion of Iraq, 
was never announced. Only much later would a newspaper article or two 
mention it in passing, reporting that it had been set up by Andrew 
Card, the White House chief of staff. Its eight members included Mr. 
Rove, Mr. Libby, Condoleezza Rice and the spinmeisters Karen Hughes and 
Mary Matalin. Its mission: to market a war in Iraq.

Of course, the official Bush history would have us believe that in 
August 2002 no decision had yet been made on that war. Dates bracketing 
the formation of WHIG tell us otherwise. On July 23, 2002 - a week or 
two before WHIG first convened in earnest - a British official told his 
peers, as recorded in the now famous Downing Street memo, that the Bush 
administration was ensuring that “the intelligence and facts” about 
Iraq’s W.M.D.’s “were being fixed around the policy” of going to war. 
And on Sept. 6, 2002 - just a few weeks after WHIG first convened - Mr. 
Card alluded to his group’s existence by telling Elisabeth Bumiller of 
The New York Times that there was a plan afoot to sell a war against 
Saddam Hussein: “From a marketing point of view, you don’t introduce 
new products in August.”

The official introduction of that product began just two days later. On 
the Sunday talk shows of Sept. 8, Ms. Rice warned that “we don’t want 
the smoking gun to be a mushroom cloud,” and Mr. Cheney, who had 
already started the nuclear doomsday drumbeat in three August speeches, 
described Saddam as “actively and aggressively seeking to acquire 
nuclear weapons.” The vice president cited as evidence a front-page 
article, later debunked, about supposedly nefarious aluminum tubes 
co-written by Judy Miller in that morning’s Times. The national 
security journalist James Bamford, in “A Pretext for War,” writes that 
the article was all too perfectly timed to facilitate “exactly the sort 
of propaganda coup that the White House Iraq Group had been set up to 

The administration’s doomsday imagery was ratcheted up from that day 
on. As Barton Gellman and Walter Pincus of The Washington Post would 
determine in the first account of WHIG a full year later, the 
administration’s “escalation of nuclear rhetoric” could be traced to 
the group’s formation. Along with mushroom clouds, uranium was another 
favored image, the Post report noted, “because anyone could see its 
connection to an atomic bomb.” It appeared in a Bush radio address the 
weekend after the Rice-Cheney Sunday show blitz and would reach its 
apotheosis with the infamously fictional 16 words about “uranium from 
Africa” in Mr. Bush’s January 2003 State of the Union address on the 
eve of war.

Throughout those crucial seven months between the creation of WHIG and 
the start of the American invasion of Iraq, there were indications that 
evidence of a Saddam nuclear program was fraudulent or nonexistent. 
Joseph Wilson’s C.I.A. mission to Niger, in which he failed to find any 
evidence to back up uranium claims, took place nearly a year before the 
president’s 16 words. But the truth never mattered. The Bush-Cheney 
product rolled out by Card, Rove, Libby & Company had been bought by 
Congress, the press and the public. The intelligence and facts had been 
successfully fixed to sell the war, and any memory of Mr. Bush’s errant 
16 words melted away in Shock and Awe. When, months later, a national 
security official, Stephen Hadley, took “responsibility” for allowing 
the president to address the nation about mythical uranium, no one knew 
that Mr. Hadley, too, had been a member of WHIG.

It was not until the war was supposedly over - with “Mission 
Accomplished,” in May 2003 - that Mr. Wilson started to add his voice 
to those who were disputing the administration’s uranium hype. Members 
of WHIG had a compelling motive to shut him down. In contrast to other 
skeptics, like Mohamed ElBaradei of the International Atomic Energy 
Agency (this year’s Nobel Peace Prize winner), Mr. Wilson was an 
American diplomat; he had reported his findings in Niger to our own 
government. He was a dagger aimed at the heart of WHIG and its 
disinformation campaign. Exactly who tried to silence him and how is 
what Mr. Fitzgerald presumably will tell us.

It’s long been my hunch that the WHIG-ites were at their most brazen 
(and, in legal terms, reckless) during the many months that preceded 
the appointment of Mr. Fitzgerald as special counsel. When Mr. Rove was 
asked on camera by ABC News in September 2003 if he had any knowledge 
of the Valerie Wilson leak and said no, it was only hours before the 
Justice Department would open its first leak investigation. When Scott 
McClellan later declared that he had been personally assured by Mr. 
Rove and Mr. Libby that they were “not involved” with the leak, the 
case was still in the safe hands of the attorney general then, John 
Ashcroft, himself a three-time Rove client in past political campaigns. 
Though Mr. Rove may be known as “Bush’s brain,” he wasn’t smart enough 
to anticipate that Justice Department career employees would eventually 
pressure Mr. Ashcroft to recuse himself because of this conflict of 
interest, clearing the way for an outside prosecutor as independent as 
Mr. Fitzgerald.

”Bush’s Brain” is the title of James Moore and Wayne Slater’s 
definitive account of Mr. Rove’s political career. But Mr. Rove is less 
his boss’s brain than another alliterative organ (or organs), that 
which provides testosterone. As we learn in “Bush’s Brain,” bad things 
(usually character assassination) often happen to Bush foes, whether 
Ann Richards or John McCain. On such occasions, Mr. Bush stays 
compassionately above the fray while the ruthless Mr. Rove operates 
below the radar, always separated by “a layer of operatives” from any 
ill behavior that might implicate him. “There is no crime, just a 
victim,” Mr. Moore and Mr. Slater write of this repeated pattern.

THIS modus operandi was foolproof, shielding the president as well as 
Mr. Rove from culpability, as long as it was about winning an election. 
The attack on Mr. Wilson, by contrast, has left them and the 
Cheney-Libby tag team vulnerable because it’s about something far 
bigger: protecting the lies that took the country into what the Reagan 
administration National Security Agency director, Lt. Gen. William 
Odom, recently called “the greatest strategic disaster in United States 

Whether or not Mr. Fitzgerald uncovers an indictable crime, there is 
once again a victim, but that victim is not Mr. or Mrs. Wilson; it’s 
the nation. It is surely a joke of history that even as the White House 
sells this weekend’s constitutional referendum as yet another “victory” 
for democracy in Iraq, we still don’t know the whole story of how our 
own democracy was hijacked on the way to war.

* Taken from a source besides the Times, which now charges for 

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