The Bush/Cheney Impeachment Papers

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The Articles of Impeachment: Article 1

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CREATING A SECRET PROPAGANDA CAMPAIGN TO MANUFACTURE A FALSE CASE FOR WAR AGAINST IRAQ

Article I of Dennis Kucinich’s Articles for the Impeachment of President Bush concerns the work of the White House Iraq Group, or WHIG, formed by Andy Card to sell the Iraq war to a reluctant US population.

The Department of Defense (DOD) has engaged in a years-long secret domestic propaganda campaign to promote the invasion and occupation of Iraq. This secret program was defended by the White House Press Secretary following its exposure. This program follows the pattern of crimes detailed in Article I, II, IV and VIII. The mission of this program placed it within the field controlled by the White House Iraq Group (WHIG), a White House task force formed in August 2002 to market an invasion of Iraq to the American people. The group included Karl Rove, I. Lewis Libby, Condoleezza Rice, Karen Hughes, Mary Matalin, Stephen Hadley, Nicholas E. Calio, and James R. Wilkinson.

The WHIG produced white papers detailing so-called intelligence of Iraq’s nuclear threat that later proved to be false. This supposed intelligence included the claim that Iraq had sought uranium from Niger as well as the claim that the high strength aluminum tubes Iraq purchased from China were to be used for the sole purpose of building centrifuges to enrich uranium. Unlike the National Intelligence Estimate of 2002, the WHIG’s white papers provided “gripping images and stories” and used “literary license” with intelligence. The WHIG’s white papers were written at the same time and by the same people as speeches and talking points prepared for President Bush and some of his top officials.

 

 The Co-Operative History Commons notes that WHIG was charged with “pushing the [marketing] envelope” from the very beginning.

 

August 2002: Top Bush Officials Form Group To Sell Iraq War to the Public, Congress, and Allies

White House Chief of Staff Andrew H. Card Jr. forms the White House Iraq Group, or WHIG, which aims to “educate the public” about the alleged threat from Iraq. A senior official involved with the group later describes it as “an internal working group, like many formed for priority issues, to make sure each part of the White House was fulfilling its responsibilities.” Members of the group include Karl Rove, Karen Hughes, Mary Matalin, James R. Wilkinson, Nicholas E. Calio, and policy advisers led by Condoleezza Rice and her deputy, Stephen J. Hadley, and I. Lewis Libby. They meet weekly in the White House Situation Room. A “strategic communications” task force under the WHIG is charged with planning speeches and writing white papers. [Washington Post, 8/10/2003] According to an intelligence source interviewed by the New York Daily News in October 2005, the group, on “a number of occasions,” will attempt “to push the envelope on things,”—“The [CIA] would say, ‘We just don’t have the intelligence to substantiate that.’” [New York Daily News, 10/19/2005] An important part of the WHIG strategy is to feed their messages to friendly reporters such as New York Times reporter Judith Miller. James Bamford, in his book A Pretext for War, writes: “First OSP [Office of Special Plans] supplies false or exaggerated intelligence; then members of the WHIG leak it to friendly reporters, complete with prepackaged vivid imagery; finally, when the story breaks, senior officials point to it as proof and parrot the unnamed quotes they or their colleagues previously supplied.” [Bamford, 2004, pp. 325]

 

The process described by Bamford is at the heart of Article 1. Under orders from the president, WHIG deliberately used bogus information, much of it provided by Ahmad Chalabi, an ace Iraqi con artist wanted for bank fraud in Syria. When George Tenet’s CIA – whose statements, particularly concerning Chalabi, were a good deal stronger than “we can’t substantiate that” – told Cheney and WHIG that Chalabi couldn’t be trusted and that he was a liar and a thief whose “information” could never be confirmed, Cheney ordered Doug Feith at the Office of Special Plans (OSP) to tell Dave Wurmser at C-TEG (Counter-Terrorism Evaluation Group) to go through the CIA’s raw data (unconfirmed rumors, gossip, chatter on the part of friends and enemies) and come up with confirmation. Then Libby, a friend of ace conspiracy theorist Laurie Mylroie who was in turn a friend of ace con artist Chalabi, whipped up “Code Name Curveball”, a supposed Iraqi defector from Saddam’s Revolutionary Guard who has never been shown even to have existed, but if he does he was also handed to Libby (through Laurie) by Chalabi’s illusory Iraqi National Congress (INC), a supposed anti-Saddam guerrilla group whose members were all in their 50’s and 60’s, and none of whom had actually been in Iraq since late ’57.

If this is beginning to sound like a satirical film by Stanley Kubrick, you’re getting the idea. This is where the myth of Bush/Cheney incompetence started, but in fact, as we now know, the Administration was perfectly aware that everything Bush was saying – and WHIG was spreading – was a lie. They just didn’t care. The WaPo’s Walter Pincus first broke the story as early as Aug of ’03, giving specifics of a myriad of untruths.

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:

* 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.

(emphasis added)

 

At this early stage, as you can see, Pincus was merely alleging that the evidence had been oversold, perhaps by accident. But now, after everything that’s been uncovered since, we know that Bush, Cheney and probably Rumsfeld knew that nearly all the so-called “evidence” they were ramping up to excuse a pre-emptive and almost certainly illegal invasion was either plain wrong or had been invented out of whole cloth. It didn’t matter. Cheney told WHIG to sell it and they sold it, the same way they would have sold a defective car seat or a poisonous tomato if they’d been working for corporations.

The WHIG also organized a media blitz in which, between September 7-8, 2002, President Bush and his top advisers appeared on numerous interviews and all provided similarly gripping images about the possibility of nuclear attack by Iraq. The timing was no coincidence, as Andrew Card explained in an interview regarding waiting until after Labor Day to try to sell the American people on military action against Iraq, “From a marketing point of view, you don’t introduce new products in August.”

September 7-8, 2002:

NBC’s “Meet the Press”: Vice President 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.

CNN: Then-National Security Adviser Rice said, regarding the likelihood of Iraq obtaining a nuclear weapon, “We don’t want the smoking gun to be a mushroom cloud.”

CBS: President Bush declared that Saddam was “six months away from developing a weapon,” and cited satellite photos of construction in Iraq where weapons inspectors once visited as evidence that Saddam was trying to develop nuclear arms.

 

But the core of Article 1 may be the way the Administration involved the Pentagon in this selling spree. Not to put too fine a point on it, what Rumsfeld ordered the Pentagon to do was illegal.

The Pentagon military analyst propaganda program was revealed in an April 20, 2002, New York Times article. The program illegally involved “covert attempts to mold opinion through the undisclosed use of third parties.” Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld recruited 75 retired military officers and gave them talking points to deliver on Fox, CNN, ABC, NBC, CBS, and MSNBC, and according to the New York Times report, which has not been disputed by the Pentagon or the White House, “Participants were instructed not to quote their briefers directly or otherwise describe their contacts with the Pentagon.”

According to the Pentagon’s own internal documents, the military analysts were considered “message force multipliers” or “surrogates” who would deliver administration “themes and messages” to millions of Americans “in the form of their own opinions.” In fact, they did deliver the themes and the messages but did not reveal that the Pentagon had provided them with their talking points. Robert S. Bevelacqua, a retired Green Beret and Fox News military analyst described this as follows: “It was them saying, ‘We need to stick our hands up your back and move your mouth for you.’”

Congress has restricted annual appropriations bills since 1951 with this language: “No part of any appropriation contained in this or any other Act shall be used for publicity or propaganda purposes within the United States not heretofore authorized by the Congress.”

A March 21, 2005, report by the Congressional Research Service states that “publicity or propaganda” is defined by the U.S. Government Accountability Office (GAO) to mean either (1) self-aggrandizement by public officials, (2) purely partisan activity, or (3) “covert propaganda.”

These concerns about “covert propaganda” were also the basis for the GAO’s standard for determining when government-funded video news releases are illegal:

“The failure of an agency to identify itself as the source of a prepackaged news story misleads the viewing public by encouraging the viewing audience to believe that the broadcasting news organization developed the information. The prepackaged news stories are purposefully designed to be indistinguishable from news segments broadcast to the public. When the television viewing public does not know that the stories they watched on television news programs about the government were in fact prepared by the government, the stories are, in this sense, no longer purely factual — the essential fact of attribution is missing.”

 

 The only possible legal excuse for any of this – and it’s abhorrent to democracy – would be if the Addington/Yoo/Cheney doctrine of the “unitary executive” (a term Addington, who has been defending it and advocating for it for years, in an orgy of temporizing told Congress this week he wasn’t “familiar with”), a definition of presidential power in which there are no restrictions or limits, the constitution notwithstanding, was accepted as law.

It isn’t.

In fact, it is patently unConstitutional on its face. NO president can assume such powers under any conditions except internal anarchy or civil rebellion, and even then it would be subject to judicial and/or legislative review, both of which Addington/Yoo/Cheney rejects.

While this is not the strongest of the Articles, Kucinich is building a case and the illegal bare-faced lying as well as the illegal use of the Pentagon to spread those lies is a good, solid place to start.

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