White House Iraq Group
This article is part of the Center for Media & Democracy's focus on the fallout of nuclear "spin."
The White House Iraq Group (aka, White House Information Group or WHIG) was the marketing arm of the White House whose purpose was to sell the 2003 invasion of Iraq to the public.
A new White House "WHIG" was exposed September 9, 2007, by the New York Times's Frank Rich, who wrote "the spirit of WHIG lives", "a 24/7 Pentagon information 'war room' conceived in the last throes of the Rumsfeld regime and run by a former ABC News producer."
"Instead of being bombarded with dire cherry-picked intelligence about W.M.D., this time we're being serenaded with feel-good cherry-picked statistics offering hope. Once again the fix is in. Mr. Bush's pretense that he has been waiting for the Petraeus-Crocker report before setting his policy is as bogus as his U.N. charade before the war. And once again a narrowly Democratic Senate lacks the votes to stop him," Rich wrote.
- 1 WHIG 2007: Iraq Communications Desk
- 2 WHIG 2003
- 3 1967 White House Information Group
- 4 Resources
WHIG 2007: Iraq Communications Desk
- 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 Saddam Hussein, as a participant put it.
- Systematic coordination began in August 2002, 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 September 2002, the White House was beginning a major press offensive designed to prove that Iraq had a robust nuclear weapons program. That campaign was meant to culminate in the president's Oct. 7 speech in Cincinnati." 
Although similar in name and function, this group is not related to the #1967 White House Information Group.
2003 WHIG members
- Karl Rove
- Karen Hughes
- Mary Matalin
- James R. Wilkinson
- Nicholas E. Calio
- Condoleezza Rice
- Stephen Hadley
- I. Lewis (Scooter) Libby
"Escalation of Rhetoric"
- July 23, 2002: The Downing Street Memo was written, in which British intelligence said "C reported on his recent talks in Washington. There was a perceptible shift in attitude. Military action was now seen as inevitable. Bush wanted to remove Saddam, through military action, justified by the conjunction of terrorism and WMD."
- August 2002: White House Iraq Group formed.
- September 6, 2002: In an interview with the New York Times, Andrew Card did not mention the WHIG specifically but hinted at its mission. Card said "From a marketing point of view, you don't introduce new products in August." On September 17, 2002, Matt Miller stated on NPR that the above quote from Andrew Card was in response to the question: "... why the administration waited until after Labor Day to try to sell the American people on military action against Iraq."
- September 7-8, 2002: Bush and nearly all his top advisers blanketed the airways, talking about the dangers posed by Iraq:
- On NBC's "Meet the Press," Vice President Dick 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.
- On CNN, Condoleezza Rice acknowledged that "there will always be some uncertainty" in determining how close Iraq may be to obtaining a nuclear weapon but said, "We don't want the smoking gun to be a mushroom cloud."
- On CBS, Bush said U.N. weapons inspectors, before they were denied access to Iraq in 1998, concluded that Saddam was "six months away from developing a weapon." He also cited satellite photos released by a U.N. agency Friday that show unexplained construction at Iraq sites that weapons inspectors once visited to search for evidence Saddam was trying to develop nuclear arms. "I don't know what more evidence we need," Bush said.
- September 7, 2002: Judith Miller of The New York Times reports Bush administration officials said "In the last 14 months, Iraq has sought to buy thousands of specially designed aluminum tubes, which American officials believe were intended as components of centrifuges to enrich uranium."
- October 14, 2002: Bush says of Saddam "This is a man that we know has had connections with al Qaeda. This is a man who, in my judgment, would like to use al Qaeda as a forward army."
- January 21, 2003: Bush says of Saddam "He has weapons of mass destruction -- the world's deadliest weapons -- which pose a direct threat to the United States, our citizens and our friends and allies."
- February 5, 2003: Colin Powell addresses the United Nations, asserting that there was "no doubt in my mind" that Saddam was working to obtain key components to produce nuclear weapons.
- March 20, 2003: The US invades Iraq.
Response to yellowcake forgery issue
In response to the Yellowcake forgery issue, the White House Iraq Group devised this strategy to combat critics:
"There is a strategy now, devised by White House communications director Dan Bartlett, Mary Matalin, a former aide to Vice President Cheney, and former Bush aide Karen Hughes. Both advise the White House as a consultants to the Republican National Committee.
The plan: Release all relevant information. Try to shift attention back to Bush's leadership in the war on terrorism. Diminish the significance of that single piece of iffy intelligence by making the case that Saddam was a threat for many other reasons. Put Republican lawmakers and other Bush allies on TV to defend him.
Most important: Question the motives of Democrats who supported the war but now are criticizing the president."
Call for investigation, 2005
On October 20, 2005, Congressman Dennis Kucinich (D-OH) introduced a formal Resolution of Inquiry to demand the White House turn over all white papers, minutes, notes, emails or other communications kept by the White House Iraq Group (WHIG), stating that "This group, comprised of the President and Vice President's top aides, was critical in selling the Administration's case for war. We now know that the Administration hyped intelligence and misled the American public and Congress in their effort to 'sell' the war. After over 1,900 American troops have been killed in Iraq, it is long past time for this Congress to ask serious questions about WHIG and its role in the lead up to the war."
- Sam Gardiner's "Truth from These Podia: Summary of a Study of Strategic Influence, Perception Management, Strategic Information Warfare and Strategic Psychological Operations in Gulf II," October 8, 2003. Posted on US News.com website.
- John Prados (ed.), Hoodwinked: The Documents That Reveal How Bush Sold Us a War (2004), ISBN 1-56584-902-7.
1967 White House Information Group
In 1967, the Johnson Administration created the White House Information Group to raise support for and "cultivate favorable news coverage of" the Vietnam War.
- Bush administration leaks
- Bush administration scandals
- Bush lies and deceptions
- Bush's 16 words
- Coalition Information Center
- Karl Rove: Outing Valerie Plame
- Office of Special Plans
- Office of Strategic Initiatives
- State of the Union 2003
- Treasongate: Beyond Karl Rove (most recent activity on the case)
- Valerie Plame
- Frank Rich, "As the Iraqis Stand Down, We’ll Stand Up," New York Times (truthout), September 9, 2007.
- Chart: "Organizing for Combat" (6 pages) from Sam Gardiner's "The Truth from These Podia" posted on U.S. News & World Report website.
- White House Iraq Group in the Wikipedia.
- Timeline: Activities of the White House Iraq Group posted on the Democratic Party website.
- "Two Years After Leak Investigation Continues," Timeline by the New York Times.
- Wikipedia Valerie Plame Timeline.
- "The Other Vietnam Generation," New York Times, February 28, 1999.
- "Top Bush officials push case against Saddam," CNN, September 8, 2002.
- "U.S. Says Hussein Intensifies Quest for A-Bomb Parts," New York Times, September 8, 2002.
- "Remarks by the President at Thaddeus McCotter for Congress Dinner," October 14, 2002.
- "Commentary: Bush Administration's Marketing of the Possible War Against Iraq," National Public Radio, September 2, 2002.
- "President Bush Meets with Leading Economists," White House news release, January 21, 2003.
- "Questions dog White House days," USA Today, July 23, 2003.
- Barton Gellman and Walter Pincus, "Depiction of Threat Outgrew Supporting Evidence," Washington Post, August 10, 2003; backup article at TruthOut.
- Joshua Micah Marshall, "Big Trouble?" Talking Points Memo, March 4, 2004.
- "Air Force One records subpoenaed in CIA leak probe," CNN, March 5, 2004.
- Murray S. Waas, "Plugging Leaks. More details emerge on the Plame investigation, as Karl Rove's testimony is revealed for the first time," The American Prospect, March 8, 2004.
- John Prados, "Blindsided or blind?" The Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists, July/August 2004.
- "The Value Proposition," Washington Post, July 9, 2004.
- Joseph Cirincione, "Not One Claim Was True," Carnegie Endowment; Review of John Prados' "Hoodwinked: The Documents That Reveal How Bush Sold Us a War" (ISBN 1-56584-902-7). First published in the January/February 2005 issue of the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists.
- "The Iraq Group," Hullabaloo, July 2, 2005.
- "White House Iraq Group," Pacific Views, July 3, 2005.
- "WHIGgate. Is the White House Iraq Group (WHIG) the key piece of connective tissue for connecting the Rove/Plame story to the Downing Street Memo?" True Blue Liberal, July 12, 2005.
- "Frogmarch watch: The White House Iraq Group is the story behind the story," corrente, July 14, 2005. More corrente background in these July 5 and July 6, 2005, postings.
- Read Wilson's Raw Story interview for details.
- Bernard Weiner, "Rove-Plame scandal leading to deeper White House horrors?" Online Journal, July 21, 2005.
- DNC, "Karen Hughes, Queen of the Spin-Doctors and Captain of the White House Smear Campaign," BuzzFlash, July 22, 2005.
- "All the President's Men - and Women," PERRspectives, July 25, 2005.
- James Moore, "Judy and the Little Tubes of Terror," The Huffington Post, August 3, 2005.
- "Daily Service of DNC: 'Mr. Bush, Tear Down That Stone Wall'," U.S. Newswire, August 26, 2005: "White House Iraq Group Had Disdain for CIA Views on Intelligence Matters."
- "Report: Lawyers say investigation into CIA leak widens to probe 'broader conspiracy' around Iraq," The Raw Story, October 11, 2005.
- Jason Leopold, "Vice President's role in outing of CIA agent under examination, sources close to prosecutor say," The Raw Story, October 12, 2005.
- "The 'Broader Conspiracy': What We Already Know About the White House Iraq Group," Think Progress, October 12, 2005.
- Mark A.R. Kleinman, "Conspiracy and the White House Iraq Group," markarkleinman.com, October 12, 2005.
- Laura Rozen, War and Piece, October 12, 2005.
- susanhu, "Glengarry, Glen Rove," Booman Tribune, October 12, 2005.
- John D. McKinnon, Joe Hagan, and Anne Marie Squeo, "Focus of CIA Leak Probe Appears to Widen," Wall Street Journal, October 12, 2005.
- "Does Karl Rove Think We Can't Handle the Truth?" Democratic Party website, October 14, 2005.
- Carol D. Leonnig and Jim VandeHei, "Rove Pressed On Conflicts, Source Says. Questions Said to Focus On Differing Accounts," Washington Post (PERRspectives), October 15, 2005.
- Matthew Yglesias, "Red Herrings," TPM Cafe, October 15, 2005.
- "Rice: After 9-11 'We Could Decide the Proximate Cause Was Al Qaeda'," Think Progress, October 16, 2005.
- Frank Rich, "It's Bush-Cheney, Not Rove-Libby," New York Times (TruthOut), October 16, 2005.
- Dan Froomkin, "Brace for Impact," Washington Post, October 17, 2005.
- Dan Froomkin, "The Prosecutor Zeroes In," Washington Post, October 18, 2005.
- Kevin Drum, "Nukes and the Base," Washington Monthly, October 18, 2005.
- Joshua Micah Marshall, "A question about the story beneath the story, the origins of the Niger forgeries and who covered up the trail," Talking Points Memo, October 18, 2005.
- Dan Froomkin, "Waiting for the Sword," Washington Post, October 19, 2005.
- Thomas M. DeFrank, "Bush whacked Rove on CIA leak," New York Daily News, October 19, 2005.
- Jason Leopold and Larisa Alexandrovna, "Second Cheney aide cooperating in leak probe, those close to case say," The Raw Story, October 19, 2005. re David Wurmser
- John Nichols, "The Case Against Cheney," The Nation, October 19, 2005.
- Laura Rozen, "The Missing Intelligence Report," War and Piece, October 19, 2005.
- Larry C. Johnson, "Dick Cheney's Covert Action," Tom Paine.Common Sense, October 19, 2005.
- Larry Johnson, "The So-Called Lies of Joseph Wilson," TPM Cafe, October 19, 2005.
- James Gordon Meek and Kenneth R. Bazinet, "Prez Iraq team fought to squelch war critics," New York Daily News, October 19, 2005: "So determined was the ring of top officials to win its argument that it morphed into a virtual hit squad that took aim at critics who questioned its claims, sources told the Daily News. ... 'They were funneling information'" to New York Times reporter Judith Miller. "'Judy was a charter member,' the source said."
- John Brown, "What’s WHIG all About? An Open Letter to Karen Hughes," Common Dreams, October 19, 2005.
- Edward Alden, "Cheney 'cabal' hijacked US foreign policy," Financial Times, October 20, 2005.
- Transcript: Colonel Wilkerson on US foreign policy, Financial Times, October 20, 2005: "The following is a partial transcript of remarks made by Colonel Lawrence Wilkerson, chief of staff to former secretary of state Colin Powell, to the New America Foundation, a Washington think-tank."
- Jim VandeHei and Carol D. Leonnig, "Rove Told Jury Libby May Have Been His Source In Leak Case. Top Aides Talked Before Plame's Name Was Public," Washington Post, October 20, 2005.
- Jim Lobe, "Powell Aide Blasts Rice, Cheney-Rumsfeld 'Cabal'," Inter Press News Service, October 20, 2005.
- Jeff Lomonaco and Murray Waas, "The United States v. I. Lewis Libby," Union Square Press, Feb. 2, 2007.