RETURN OF THE WHIGS….The Wall Street Journal story I mentioned last night, which suggests that Patrick Fitzgerald may have widened the Valerie Plame investigation to include “a broader conspiracy,” goes on to mention that “at least part of the outcome likely hangs on the inner workings of what has been dubbed the White House Iraq Group.” Josh Marshall is intrigued:

This WHIG thing is a whole ‘nother level of hurt.

This group was the organizational team, the core group behind all the shameless crap that went down in the lead up to the Iraq war — the lies about the cooked up Niger story, everything. If Fitzgerald has lassoed this operation into a criminal conspiracy, the veil of protective secrecy in which the whole operation is still shrouded will be pulled back. Depositions and sworn statements in on-going investigations have a way of doing that. Ask Bill Clinton. Every key person in the White House will be touched by it. And all sorts of ugly tales could spill out.

This might be significant, but keep in mind that Fitzgerald has been investigating the WHIG all along, ever since the first big batch of subpoenas were delivered to the White House last year. Here’s the Washington Post in March 2004:

Aides to President Bush agreed to turn over a log of a week’s worth of telephone calls from Air Force One and other records to satisfy subpoenas from a federal grand jury investigating the leak of a CIA operative’s identity, White House officials said Friday.

….The subpoenas also seek documents from July 6 to July 30 relating to the White House Iraq Group, a group of communications, political, national security and legislative aides who met weekly in the Situation Room.

It’s quite possible that Fitzgerald now plans to subpoena WHIG records from before July 6, and that might turn up all sort of interesting new things. Who knows? But Fitzgerald has been well aware of the importance of WHIG for a long time, which is the reason such a broad group of people have been subpoenaed to testify before the grand jury already. As near as I can tell, pretty much every single person associated with WHIG has already either testified or given a deposition.

In other words, so far there’s no indication that WHIG really represents a new direction for Fitzgerald. But stay tuned. If he issues a subpoena for WHIG records from June, that might cause some fireworks.