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Friday, July 22, 2005

Karen Hughes and Karl Rove Scandal

Posted by Bob Brigham

Via email, I received an important DNC Press Release on Karen Huges: Queen of the Spin-Doctors and Captain of the White House Smear Campaign. Full post in extended entry.

Karen Hughes, Queen of the Spin-Doctors
and Captain of the White House Smear Campaign

President Bush has nominated his closest adviser, Karen Hughes, to be Under Secretary of State for Public Diplomacy. In this new position, Hughes will be responsible for kick-starting America’s diplomatic marketing effort in the Muslim world. However, Hughes’ involvement in the Bush Administration’s manipulation of pre-war intelligence, her leadership role in the White House smear campaigns against Joe Wilson and Richard Clarke, and her potential involvement with the Plame leak, makes her an unlikely candidate for this position.

Hughes Involved in Pre-War Manipulation of Intelligence...Hughes Part of Iraq Working Group, Which Set Strategy for Marketing War in Iraq. Despite formally leaving the White House in July of 2002, Hughes was one of the regular participants in the White House Iraq Group which set the strategy for going to war in Iraq. The “internal working group”, which was began its formal coordination in August of 2002, was responsible for marketing the war in Iraq and involved other political strategists such as Mary Matalin, Karl Rove, Lewis “Scooter” Libby, and Andy Card. Card hinted at the WHIG’s mission to the New York Times saying “From a marketing point of view, you don’t introduce new products in August.” [Washington Post, 8/10/03; KTVT, 7/8/02]

Escalation of False Rhetoric Regarding Iraqi Threat Came After Formation of White House Iraq Group. The Washington Post reported that the “escalation of nuclear rhetoric” during the pre-war stage, “ 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.” [Washington Post, 8/10/03]

Hughes Was Intimately Involved In Preparation Of Discredited 2003 State Of The Union. The Houston Chronicle reported that Hughes “was involved in drafting the speech.” Hughes said that convincing Americans of the dangers of Iraq was a primary goal of the speech. Hughes: “What people want to hear is the comprehensive logic: Why is Saddam Hussein's continued defiance a threat to our country and to peace in the world?” [Houston Chronicle, 1/27/03; NBC Today, 1/28/03]

…And Led White House Smear Campaigns to Cover Up the Lies


Hughes Claimed She Would Not Engage In Anonymous Attacks And Wanted To “Elevate Political Dialogue.” “I worry that Christians, myself included, give Christianity a bad name because we so often fail to model the love and humility displayed by the life of Jesus Christ,” she writes [in her new book “Ten Minutes from Normal”]. Hughes, in what she called an effort to elevate political dialogue, vowed that she will no longer provide quotes to reporters without attaching her name to them. “I admit in the book: In the past, I’ve done it myself,” she said. “You tend to be harsher and meaner when you can make those charges anonymously.” [Washington Post, 3/29/04]


Hughes Led Attempts To Smear Richard Clarke. The New York Times reported, “Ms. Hughes was an advocate of the howitzer treatment of Mr. Clarke, the former counterterrorism chief who was attacked by the White House as politically motivated and dishonest. She was also a sounding board for Condoleezza Rice, the national security adviser, who reached out to Ms. Hughes this week for advice on how to present her case against the criticisms of Mr. Clarke, who said she had ignored his dire warnings about terrorism.” [New York Times, 3/28/04]

Hughes Admitted To Being Involved In Attempts To Smear Clarke. When asked by Barbara Walters on 20/20 whether she was involved in the White House’s response to Richard Clarke’s allegations, Hughes said, “I'm involved in White House discussions about those issues, and I try to help… I think, from personal knowledge, that many of the things he said are not true.” [ABC’s 20/20, 3/29/04]

Hughes Constructed Strategy To Defend Against Criticisms Of Bush’s Use Of False Evidence In The State of the Union, Focusing On Discrediting Democrats. After the Niger/uranium scandal escalated, the White House struggled to confront the charges. Hughes helped to devise a communications plan. As reported by USA Today, the plan was to: “Most important: Question the motives of Democrats who supported the war but now are criticizing the president.” [USA Today, 7/24/03]


White House Iraq Group Subpoenaed In Leak Probe. In March 2004, the investigation of who leaked the identity of undercover CIA operative to the media subpoenaed all White House records pertaining to the White House Iraq Group (WHIG) from July 6 through July 30, 2003. Hughes was a member of the WHIG. [Newsday, 3/6/03]

Hughes Defended Rove In Leak Charge. Hughes said that the public disclosure of a CIA operative's name was a disservice to the president and “very disruptive to democracy.” Hughes “said she was confident that her fellow Texan and sometime rival, Karl Rove, the president's chief political adviser, didn't leak the name to a syndicated columnist because ‘Karl has said that he was not involved.’” [Houston Chronicle, 10/2/03]


GAO Said Administration Failing To Develop A Strategy To Improve US Image Abroad. The GAO criticized the administration in April 2005 for failing to develop a strategy to improve the image of the United States as "recent polling data show that anti-Americanism is spreading and deepening around the world." The report warned that anti-American sentiments could increase support for terrorism. [Washington Post, 4/18/05]

Despite Administration Failures, Hughes Delayed Reporting to State Department. Hughes isn't slated to arrive in Washington, where she still faces a confirmation vote, until the fall. The frustration of some diplomats has prompted quiet criticism of Hughes for waiting so long after her March nomination to join the team. "She should have joined immediately," said one diplomat. [The White House Bulletin, 6/23/05]

Arab Leaders Worried About Hughes Appointment. James Zogby, director of the Arab-American Institute, who has advised several administrations on both policy and public diplomacy in the Arab world, worries that Hughes will adopt "what seems to be in vogue today - the explanation that (the Arabs) don't really dislike us, they dislike their own governments, so if we advocate freedom, we'll win" as the main message for Washington to crank out to the region. [Inter-Press Service, 3/15/05]

Muslim Community Skeptical of Hughes Appointment. Muslims are skeptical of Hughes’s appointment, saying that Bush administration policies, chiefly the war in Iraq, remain sources of animosity and distrust in the Muslim world. "We can reduce anti-Americanism, but it is difficult to salvage anti-Bushism," said Muqtedar Khan, director of international studies at Adrian (Mich.) College. If Hughes makes it her task to defend the Bush administration, her appointment will prove to be "a waste of time and money," Khan said. [Religion News Service, 3/16/05]


Hughes Defended Politicizing 9-11 In Campaign Ads. In March 2004, during the early stages of the presidential campaign, the Bush campaign released an ad showing the charred shell of the World Trade Center, and another showing firefighters removing shrouded remains from ground zero. A firefighters union and relatives of victims objected to the politicization of 9-11. Discussing the campaign on CNN, Ms. Hughes said of the ads: ''I think it's very tasteful.” [NYT, 3/5/04]

Hughes Linked Pro-Choice Supporters to Terrorists. “Wolf Blitzer asked the Bush adviser whether abortion would be an issue in this election. ‘Well, Wolf, it’s always an issue,’ she answered. ‘And I frankly think it’s changing somewhat. I think after September 11th the American people are valuing life more and realizing that we need policies to value the dignity and worth of every life.’ Just in case anyone didn’t get it, she added that ‘the fundamental difference between us and the terror network we fight is that we value every life.’” [Goodman, Washington Post Writers Group, 4/30/04, accessed on workingforchange.com]

For more information on the scandal, visit our Karl Rove Blog.

Posted at 01:25 PM in DNC Chair, Plamegate, Republicans | Technorati