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Where are they now? Serial Iraq misinformers find home at Fox

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During the run-up to the Iraq war, some of the worst purveyors of misinformation about Iraq had a home at Fox News, and their ranks have swelled considerably since then. Media Matters takes a look at the track record of wrong predictions and shoddy analysis about the war in Iraq by many of Fox News' contributors and analysts.

Karl Rove

White House Iraq Group was formed to "set [messaging] strategy" for going to war with Iraq. The Washington Post reported in 2003 (accessed via Nexis) that the White House Iraq Group (WHIG) was formed in August 2002 "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.' " Part of the WHIG's mission, according to the Post,was to decide "what to demand of the United Nations in the president's Sept. 12 [2002] address to the General Assembly, when to take the issue to Congress, and how to frame the conflict with Iraq in the midterm election campaign that began in earnest after Labor Day." Rove was a regular participant in this group.

WHIG promoted view that Saddam "had weapons of mass destruction and was seeking more." The Los Angeles Times reported on August 25, 2005, (accessed via Nexis) that the WHIG "promoted the view that Hussein had weapons of mass destruction and was seeking more":

The group consisted of Rove, Libby, White House Chief of Staff Andrew H. Card Jr., then-national security advisor Condoleezza Rice and her deputy, Stephen Hadley, and Mary Matalin, Cheney's media advisor. All are believed to have been questioned in the leak case; papers and e-mails about the group were subpoenaed.

Before the war, this Iraq group promoted the view that Hussein had weapons of mass destruction and was seeking more. In September 2002, the White House embraced a British report asserting that "Iraq has sought significant quantities of uranium from Africa."

The Washington Post further reported that WHIG "assigned Communications Director James R. Wilkinson to prepare a white paper for public release, describing the 'grave and gathering danger' of Iraq's allegedly 'reconstituted' nuclear program." From the October 30, 2005, article (accessed via Nexis):

By summer 2002, the White House Iraq Group assigned Communications Director James R. Wilkinson to prepare a white paper for public release, describing the "grave and gathering danger" of Iraq's allegedly "reconstituted" nuclear weapons program. Wilkinson gave prominent place to the claim that Iraq "sought uranium oxide, an essential ingredient in the enrichment process, from Africa." That claim, along with repeated use of the "mushroom cloud" image by top officials beginning in September, became the emotional heart of the case against Iraq.

Rove repeatedly politicized national security issues, including the war in Iraq, and actively encouraged GOP to campaign on the issue. Think Progress has documented Rove's repeated politicization of the Iraq war and his encouragement that Republicans campaign on the issue in 2002, which included (emphasis in original):

In January 2002, Rove told conservatives, "Americans trust the Republicans to do a better job of keeping our communities and our families safe...We can also go to the country on this issue because they trust the Republican Party to do a better job of protecting and strengthening America's military might and thereby protecting America."

[...]

In June 2002, Rove was giving Power Point presentations candidates [sic] advising them to "focus on the war" in their fall campaigns.

In September 2002, Time reported that when friends asked whether Bush planned to invade Iraq, Rove was been [sic] known to reply, "Let me put it this way:If you want to see Baghdad, you'd better visit soon."

In addition, according to an April 5, 2003, New York Times article (accessed via Nexis), Rove worked "busily ... to shape perceptions of Mr. Bush as a wartime leader and to prepare for the re-election campaign that will start as soon as the war ends." The Times quoted Rove as saying, "The president is leading the coalition of the willing, and is determined that Iraq will be disarmed of its weapons of mass destruction and that the cruel dictator's regime will be ended." From the New York Times:

The White House portrays Karl Rove, President Bush's most influential political adviser, as playing no role in military decisions that are shaping the Bush presidency.

But more than two weeks after the war began, Mr. Rove is busily working to shape perceptions of Mr. Bush as a wartime leader and to prepare for the re-election campaign that will start as soon as the war ends.

Tonight, Mr. Rove traveled here to tend to the Republican troops at the Texas Night fund-raising celebration of the Kent County Republican Committee.

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Media Matters for America is a Web-based, not-for-profit, 501(c)(3) progressive research and information center dedicated to comprehensively monitoring, analyzing, and correcting conservative misinformation in the U.S. media.
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