White House to 'hit back' at Democrats
Aides plan aggressive response to claims intelligence misused
From Dana Bash
White House officials are determined to reverse President Bush's poor poll showings.
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WASHINGTON (CNN) -- Top White House officials say they're developing a "campaign-style" strategy in response to increasing Democratic allegations that the Bush administration twisted intelligence to make its case for war.
White House aides, who agreed to speak to CNN only on the condition of anonymity, said they hoped to increase what they called their "hit back" in coming days.
The officials say they plan to repeatedly make the point -- as they did during the 2004 campaign -- that pre-war intelligence was faulty, it was not manipulated and everyone was working off the same intelligence.
They hope to arm GOP officials with more quotes by Democrats making the same pre-war claims as Republicans did about Saddam Hussein's weapons of mass destruction.
Democrats have pointed at declassified information they say shows the White House was "deceptive" in pre-war statements.
Telegraphing the beginning of a communications effort is a tactic the Bush team has used in the past, especially when it comes to Iraq.
The examination into the intelligence used to justify invading Iraq has intensified on the heels of the October 28 indictment of I. Lewis "Scooter" Libby, Vice President Dick Cheney's chief of staff, who resigned the day he was indicted. (Full story)
Libby has been charged with obstruction of justice, perjury and making false statements to federal agents investigating who revealed the identity of undercover CIA agent Valerie Plame. The agent's name was leaked to reporters after her husband publicly challenged a key element of the administration's case for war. (Wolf Blitzer interviews Plame's husband)
White House officials are determined to reverse President Bush's poor poll showings on the topics of Iraq and "honesty and trustworthiness."
The White House has been on the defensive about whether Bush's top political adviser, Karl Rove, was involved in publicly identifying Plame. (Poll: Few doubt wrongdoing in CIA leak case)
The White House is trying to coordinate a response from administration officials to congressional Republicans.
Republicans on Capitol Hill who have criticized the White House for failing to coordinate responses to a host of issues say Bush aides are working noticeably harder to set up meetings and conference calls to arrange a widespread response.
Aside from regular White House briefings, it is unclear which administration officials will participate in this "aggressive" response, which senior officials indicate will be unveiled in interviews and other public events.
It also is uncertain how much the president will be involved in the information campaign aside from "responding appropriately when asked," a third senior official said.
One senior official said Cheney would not participate in the White House response, despite that Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nevada, has accused the vice president of being a key offender in manipulating intelligence. (Read about Democrats closing the Senate to push the war probe)
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