Ooooh... JUICY! With WHIG Too!!
AMERICAblog quotes NBC chief political correspondent Howard Fineman:
Right now, my sense, in reporting this, Chris, is that the Bush family, political family, is at war with itself inside the White House. My sense is, it‘s Andy Card, the chief of staff, and his people against Karl Rove, the brain.As if that's not enough to get your saliva going, Josh Marshall quotes from an article in tomorrow's Wall Street Journal:
FINEMAN: And that runs through a whole lot of things, whether it‘s Harriet Miers or Katrina. But it all starts with Iraq.
And some submerged, but now emerging divisions within the administration over why we went into that war, how we went into that war and what was done to sell it. There are people [who] are out for Karl Rove inside that White House, which makes his situation even more perilous.
My understanding, from talking to somebody quite close to this investigation, is that they think there are going to be indictments and possibly Karl Rove could be among them, if not for the act of the leaking information about Valerie Plame, then perhaps for perjury, because he‘s now testified four times.
And there are conflicts between what Matt Cooper told the grand jury and what Rove evidently told the jury himself. And Patrick Fitzgerald, the prosecutor, is an absolute stickler for detail who has no political axe to grind here, other than keeping his own credibility. Having put Judy Miller in jail, having gone to the lengths he had, my understand is, he has got some people here, not only Rove, but perhaps Scooter Libby, the vice president‘s chief of staff.
MATTHEWS: I also get the sense he reads the law book. He doesn‘t care about the politics.
FINEMAN: That‘s what I meant. That‘s what I meant. He doesn‘t care about the politics.
MATTHEWS: Let me ask you, you just raised a curtain-raiser for me. I didn‘t even know this.
You believe that the fight between those who may be headed toward indictment, the vice president‘s chief of staff, Karl Rove, there is a war between them and the people who are going to survive them, Andy Card, etcetera.
Mr. Fitzgerald's pursuit now suggests he might be investigating not a narrow case on the leaking of the agent's name, but perhaps a broader conspiracy...Marshall's analysis:
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. Formed in August 2002, the group, which included Messrs. Rove and Libby, worked on setting strategy for selling the war in Iraq to the public in the months leading up to the March 2003 invasion. The group likely would have played a significant role in responding to Mr. Wilson's claims.
First of all, it did play a big role. That's where the push back came from.[Gotta luv the blogosphere: the WSJ story hasn't even been printed yet and WHIG is already a ballooning acronym!]
If this description is accurate, it must have many folks at the White House in cold sweats.
If Karl Rove goes down in this investigation it'll be a disaster for the president, both in terms of the damage occasioned by such a high-level White House indictment and, frankly, because he needs the guy like most of us need legs.
But this WHIG thing is a whole 'nother level of hurt.
This group was the organizational team, the core group behind all the shameless crap that went down in the lead up to the Iraq war -- the lies about the cooked up Niger story, everything. If Fitzgerald has lassoed this operation into a criminal conspiracy, the veil of protective secrecy in which the whole operation is still shrouded will be pulled back. Depositions and sworn statements in on-going investigations have a way of doing that. Ask Bill Clinton. Every key person in the White House will be touched by it. And all sorts of ugly tales could spill out.
As John Aravosis says, get out yer popcorn...!
UPDATE: Well, shows how uninformed I am! The Washington Post was reporting on the WHIG back in 2003:
The escalation of nuclear rhetoric a year ago [gandhi: i.e. Aug 2002], including the introduction of the term "mushroom cloud" into the debate, coincided with the formation of a White House Iraq Group, or WHIG, a task force assigned to "educate the public" about the threat from Hussein, as a participant put it...So what's all this talk about Card being against the WHIG, if he actually formed it and was a member? The WaPo story is worth a second read, by the way, as it describes the fraud behind the "aluminium tubes" hoax in some detail. This was NOT all just about those Niger Nukes claims, remember...
Systematic coordination began in August, when Chief of Staff Andrew H. Card Jr. formed the White House Iraq Group, or WHIG, to set strategy for each stage of the confrontation with Baghdad. A senior official who participated in its work called it "an internal working group, like many formed for priority issues, to make sure each part of the White House was fulfilling its responsibilities."
In an interview with the New York Times published Sept. 6, Card did not mention the WHIG but hinted at its mission. "From a marketing point of view, you don't introduce new products in August," he said.
The group met weekly in the Situation Room. Among the regular participants were Karl Rove, the president's senior political adviser; communications strategists Karen Hughes, Mary Matalin and James R. Wilkinson; legislative liaison Nicholas E. Calio; and policy advisers led by Rice and her deputy, Stephen J. Hadley, along with I. Lewis Libby, Cheney's chief of staff.
The new information indicates a pattern in which President Bush, Vice President Cheney and their subordinates -- in public and behind the scenes -- made allegations depicting Iraq's nuclear weapons program as more active, more certain and more imminent in its threat than the data they had would support. On occasion administration advocates withheld evidence that did not conform to their views. The White House seldom corrected misstatements or acknowledged loss of confidence in information upon which it had previously relied:I'm gonna need some extra popcorn...
• Bush and others often alleged that President Hussein held numerous meetings with Iraqi nuclear scientists, but did not disclose that the known work of the scientists was largely benign. Iraq's three top gas centrifuge experts, for example, ran a copper factory, an operation to extract graphite from oil and a mechanical engineering design center at Rashidiya.
• The National Intelligence Estimate (NIE) of October 2002 cited new construction at facilities once associated with Iraq's nuclear program, but analysts had no reliable information at the time about what was happening under the roofs. By February, a month before the war, U.S. government specialists on the ground in Iraq had seen for themselves that there were no forbidden activities at the sites.
• Gas centrifuge experts consulted by the U.S. government said repeatedly for more than a year that the aluminum tubes were not suitable or intended for uranium enrichment. By December 2002, the experts said new evidence had further undermined the government's assertion. The Bush administration portrayed the scientists as a minority and emphasized that the experts did not describe the centrifuge theory as impossible.
• In the weeks and months following Joe's Vienna briefing, Secretary of State Colin L. Powell and others continued to describe the use of such tubes for rockets as an implausible hypothesis, even after U.S. analysts collected and photographed in Iraq a virtually identical tube marked with the logo of the Medusa's Italian manufacturer and the words, in English, "81mm rocket."
• The escalation of nuclear rhetoric a year ago, including the introduction of the term "mushroom cloud" into the debate, coincided with the formation of a White House Iraq Group, or WHIG, a task force assigned to "educate the public" about the threat from Hussein, as a participant put it.