Judith Miller and the WHIGs
It was called the White House Iraq Group and its job was to make the case that Saddam Hussein had nuclear and biochemical weapons.
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.
Besides Rove and Libby, the group included senior White House aides Karen Hughes, Mary Matalin, James Wilkinson, Nicholas Calio, Condoleezza Rice and Stephen Hadley. WHIG also was doing more than just public relations, said a second former intel officer.
"They were funneling information to [New York Times reporter] Judy Miller. Judy was a charter member," the source said.
How could such a cozy relationship come about? Alterman paints us a hypothetical picture of the WHIG game plan to scam the world:
Working through Miller, and taking advantage of her closeness to Times publisher Arthur Sulzberger, and the fact that she wouldn’t let anybody edit her but somehow managed get almost anything to the paper–[She called herself "Miss Run Amok," and said it meant "I can do whatever I want."–the guys figured out that by feeding Judy bad stuff, they could not only avoid the Times laborious editing process but they could sell their war through its pages.
1. Get Judy to write a whole bunch of phony stories about what a meanie Saddam was. Give her unlimited access to that Chalabi guy and promise her that he always tells the truth.
2. Have a war. Give Judy her favorite unit to hang with. Let her pin medals on the guys if she wants. Hell, let her wear the goddam uniform. If they give her any flack, have her call Rumsfeld–or threaten to–that ought to be good enough. 3. When nobody finds any weapons, get Judy to somehow convince her editors to print stuff from an "engineer" whom she is not even allowed to talk to, confirming all the lies she’s been printing, on the front page. Allow the Pentagon to edit her copy. Tell Rush and everybody to go crazy with this stuff because, you know, it’s in the Times, they’re Commies, so if they admit it….
4. Give her a "security clearance" so she can’t legally write anything you don’t want her to write, though that may not be necessary…
5. Tell her what a meanie Joe Wilson is and that his wife works for those other meanies, the CIA, even though that’s against the law. Pretend you’re a "former Hill staffer" when she brings it up, though. Get Novak to write it if her editors start to feel funny about you know, breaking the law. (Tell him it’s an order if he whines about losing his CNN gig.)
6. When they finally figure out how badly she screwed them on the WMD stuff, have her tell them she wants to cover Bolton. No really. He can give her some of that crap about Cuba having WMDs, too. I promise you we’re not kidding. It’ll work. 7. When that stops working–it will have to, eventually–get her to go to jail for the principle of not telling her readers who lied to her–or whom she lied to. Make it sound like something else, though. (Duh.)
Wrap in First Amendment. Lather. Rinse. Repeat.