Saturday, March 06, 2004

The Iraq Communications Group, Valerie Plame and something called WHIG

Does anyone remember something called the Iraq Communications Group? It was the team of spindoctors and spooks chaired by Alastair Campbell in the run-up to the war with Iraq that - depending on who you believe - either did or didn't sex up the dossiers. After all, Ali C stated to the Foreign Affairs Committee that this outfit was behind the "dodgy" dossier (link) but that it had explicitly not had anything to do with the nonupsexed September dossier. Later, the Hutton inquiry exploded this denial, when it transpired that the people who took part in the initial meetings preparing that fateful document were the same men (and they were all men) who later formed the ICG - they just weren't called that yet.
"At a meeting on September 5 a group of advisers gathered to discuss how the dossier would be produced. This group went onto become the Iraq communications group, and those present included Mr Campbell, Mr Scarlett, David Manning, Julian Miller, Tom McCane, Desmond Bowen, Paul Hamill, Edward Chaplin and Stephen Wright."
Obviously, this close connection between propagandists like Ali C, spooks like John Scarlett, and No.10 in the person of David Manning, the Prime Minister's foreign policy advisor was the sort of stuff that made it very likely that political influence had been exerted, especially as the same bunch went on to give the world the second dossier with its ripped-off thesis material. What has not been widely known was that the Americans had one too. The White House Iraq Group has only been mentioned once before this week in the media, in the Washington Post of the 10th of August 2003. Thanks to Talking Points Memo, its possible significance has been pointed up. The grand jury investigating the otherwise unrelated Valerie Plame affair (when the White House blew the cover of a CIA agent who happened to be married to the guy they sent to Niger to find out if the story about Iraq buying uranium was true...) has demanded the WHIG's papers, as well as the phone records for a whole week on Air Force 1, the week immediately before she was outed. What's the connection?

Well, look at the sort of people who made up WHIG and its role:
"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."
Washington Post link

So - a team of spin doctors and National Security Council staff (i.e. semi-spooks), headed by the man who is Bush's top spinner and virtual office chief, Rove. Does that sound at all familiar? And look what it was up to:
"In its later stages, the draft white paper coincided with production of a National Intelligence Estimate and its unclassified summary. But the WHIG, according to three officials who followed the white paper's progress, wanted gripping images and stories not available in the hedged and austere language of intelligence.

The fifth draft of the paper was obtained by The Washington Post. White House spokesmen dismissed the draft as irrelevant because Rice decided not to publish it. Wilkinson said Rice and Joseph felt the paper "was not strong enough."

Now that's almost uncannily similar to - ah - certain other alleged events that may or may not have happened to a not entirely unrelated document being prepared by a possibly similar group in a certain country shortly afterwards. (Post-Hutton mode OFF.)
In fact, it's absolutely upsextastic. I strongly suggest you read the whole Washington Post story - it's total dynamite, and a reminder of what a shithot paper it is, and what a poisonous bunch of mendacrats are in charge of the world. I also suggest you all ponder the meaning of this:
"We conclude that the degree of autonomy given to the Iraq communications group chaired by Mr Campbell and the Coalition Information Centre which reported to him, as well as the lack of procedural accountability, were contributory factors to the affair of the "dodgy dossier".
the FAC report again

The what? The Coalition Information Centre, that's what. The long-memoried will recall that this was a British-American spin office set up in November, 2001 to counter bad publicity in the Afghan war (official description here), with the deep involvement of Ali C and other British spin doctors. There are 3 CICs, in London, Washington and Islamabad. Now, I wonder what role this curious form of spinner-to-spinner diplomacy might have had? And wouldn't it be nice to live in a country where inquirers can demand the comms records from the president's plane?

No comments:

kostenloser Counter