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Ahhh this is good

Ahhh, this is good stuff.

Israelis to Bush administration 'transformation of the Middle East' wingnuts: Please chill!

Just out from JTA ...

Israel told the United States it fears the outcome of regime change in Syria.

At a strategic-dialogue meeting this week among senior officials, Israel laid out for the United States three scenarios if Bashar Assad is toppled: chaos, an Islamist regime or another strongman from Assad’s minority Alawite sect. Israel fears all those options, saying Assad provides a measure of stability.

U.S. officials told their Israeli counterparts that toppling Assad could be “transformative” and dismissed concerns about an Islamist regime taking his place. Israel and the United States favor pressure on Syria to force it to stop hosting Palestinian terrorist groups and supporting Hezbollah, a Lebanese terrorist organization.

I guess since we've never overthrown a secular Arab strongman only to have the whole thing blow up in our face, it's just hard to know whether the Israelis' concerns might be well grounded.

I just wanted to

I just wanted to let everyone know that a very interesting debate has broken out over at TPMCafe about Wal Mart, or more specifically whether the thicket of progressive campaigns against or about Wal Mart add up. Click here, start from the top and work your way down.

This article in tomorrows

This article in tomorrow's Times is about the increasing and seemingly overwhelming pressure on Jack Abramoff to crack, flip and cooperate with federal investigators building corruption cases against members of Congress and, likely, executive branch officials.

There's so much coming down right now on so many fronts in these various corruption cases that it makes me wish we already had our new site -- TPMmuckraker.com -- up and ready to go. One of the things about running a site like TPM -- and I'm sure this would be the same for other politically-oriented blogs with similarly-sized audiences -- is that the site becomes a sort of collection point for a great mass of information.

Some of that is stuff I get from conventional reporting, just working the phone. Other stuff is unique to running a blog -- links to articles in regional press outlets with information running below the radar of the national press, hot tips from readers, documents (public and non-public) which shed new light on the stories of the day, all sorts of stuff -- some of the most important of which is simply ready access to the insights of different readers, insights that can break open new veins of information lying hidden in plain sight in reams of text.

What you want to do is churn through all that information, chop it up, look at it, analyze it, organize and explain the key points and then put it back before your readers. The problem is there's too much for one person to do. Not seeking sympathy, mind you. Far from it. I enjoy what I do. And I make a decent living at it, which is about all you can ask. But with more people the site could do a lot more. And that's basically what we're going to do with this new site. In doing so, hopefully, we'll be able to bring you a lot more timely and complete coverage of what's happening with our politics today.

Anyway, I wish we had it up already. But we'll get it to you as soon as we can, consistent with making it a site and a product that is as good as we can make it.

Before leaving this thought, let me mention one point about these seemingly disparate scandal stories and criminal investigations: don't discount the possibility that a number of them may end up connecting up and being intertwined when charges get filed and trials begin.

Take the Tobin (phone-jamming) trial getting ready to start next Tuesday in Concord, New Hampshire. (I'm going to try to get up there to cover the trial in person next week, though some mundane logistics may prevent me from doing so.) Federal investigators are looking at the possibility that the funds for the phone-jamming may have come from money from clients of Jack Abramoff who were instructed to make key contributions to the New Hampshire Republican party in the final days of the 2002 campaign. The Cunningham case also seems likely to spread beyond the unfortunate Dukester.

There's more here than meets the eye.

Lets sigh and pretend

Let's sigh and pretend we're surprised ...

Justice Department lawyers concluded that the landmark Texas congressional redistricting plan spearheaded by Rep. Tom DeLay (R) violated the Voting Rights Act, according to a previously undisclosed memo obtained by The Washington Post. But senior officials overruled them and approved the plan.

Read the rest in tomorrow's Post.

Youll notice that below

You'll notice that below I linked to an AP story about Geoffrey Fieger having his offices raided in Michigan. I noted that he's apparently a Democratic candidate for AG in Michigan. (You'll probably better remember Fieger as Jack Kevorkian's attorney.)

I've been trying to bend over backwards to highlight or link examples of alleged Democratic corruption, since I've been hitting so hard on so many instances of GOP shenanigans.

But TPM Reader JW from Michigan writes in this: "I assume that I don't need to tell you this, but ... Fieger has merely formed an exploratory committee to evaluate the possibility of a run for Attorney General. The Democratic Party certainly hasn't embraced him (and I don't expect it to)."

This is what it comes down to I guess. We have to find registered Democrats who are considering running for statewide office to get anyone to line up against the other party, most of whose leaders are under one sort of investigation or another, if not already getting finger-printed and booked.

Really, let it all come out. Let's see more WSJ editorials about the dog catcher from Alameda who ran a protection racket for ice cream trucks on his beat. The truth about the DC Republican party today is too obvious to cover up or ignore, even if we have a lot of reporters who are afraid to look at the elephant in the room.

I had missed the

I had missed the piece on the 'planted stories' story written by Jonathan Landay of Knight-Ridder, which is unfortunate since he significantly advanced the story.

A few points stood out for me, particularly those relating to potential disinformation blowback ...

Under military rules, information operations are restricted to influencing the attitudes and behavior of foreign governments and people. One form of information operations - psychological warfare - can use doctored or false information to deceive or damage the enemy or to bolster support for American efforts.

Many military officials, however, said they were concerned that the payments to Iraqi journalists and other covert information operations in Iraq had become so extensive that they were corroding the effort to build democracy and undermining U.S. credibility in Iraq. They also worry that information in the Iraqi press that's been planted or paid for by the U.S. military could "blow back" to the American public.


Moreover, the defense and military officials said, the U.S. public is at risk of being influenced by the information operations because what's planted in the Iraqi media can be picked up by international news organizations and Internet bloggers.


In addition to the Army's secret payments to Iraqi newspaper, radio and television journalists for positive stories, U.S. psychological-warfare officers have been involved in writing news releases and drafting media strategies for top commanders, two defense officials said.

On at least one occasion, psychological warfare specialists have taken a group of international journalists on a tour of Iraq's border with Syria, a route used by Islamic terrorists and arms smugglers, one of the officials said.

Usually, these duties are the responsibility of military public-affairs officers.

In Iraq, public affairs staff at the American-run multinational headquarters in Baghdad have been combined with information operations experts in an organization known as the Information Operations Task Force.

The unit's public affairs officers are subservient to the information operations experts, military and defense officials said.

The result is a "fuzzing up" of what's supposed to be a strict division between public affairs, which provides factual information about U.S. military operations, and information operations, which can use propaganda and doctored or false information to influence enemy actions, perceptions and behavior.

Information operations are intended to "influence foreign adversary audiences using psychological operations capabilities," according to a Sept. 27, 2004, memo sent to top American commanders by the former chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, retired Air Force Gen. Richard B. Myers.

Myers warned that putting public affairs and information operations in the same office had "the potential to compromise the commander's credibility with the media and the public."

There's a lot of good stuff in this piece. And in excerpting portions of it, there's hard to find stuff I don't want to highlight. But there's also seem interesting information about the origins of what happened ...

The payments to Iraqi journalists originally were intended to nurture a fledgling domestic press corps by rewarding Iraqi journalists who put their lives and the safety of their families at risk by attending U.S. military briefings in the high security Green Zone in Baghdad, where American officials live and work.

"These guys had to take extraordinary risk to cover our stories," said a U.S. military officer in the United States who's familiar with the program.

The effort, however, "has gotten out of hand," said an American military official in Baghdad.


"The Iraqis learned that if they reported stuff we liked, they'd get paid, and our guys learned that if they paid the Iraqis, they'd report stuff we liked," the former senior defense official said.

I've excerpted a lot; but there's a good bit more. Go give it a look.

Okay this is a

Okay, this is a bit funny -- at least if you're me. Below I posted a link to this company called ADCS. That's Cunningham co-conspirator #1 Brent Wilkes' company.

As we noted below, ADCS's headquarters is for sale. And I have the feeling Wilkes himself may soon to be announcing that he's retiring in order to be able to spend more time in prison.

Now, if you look at the ADCS website, you'll see it's quite snazzy and nicely designed. Only, where are the links? If memory serves when I first looked at this site last summer it was, well ... a normal website, a front end to various info about the company. But as nearly as I can tell there are no links to anything. The whole site is one big 'no comment'.

Seems like Brent Wilkes

Seems like Brent Wilkes' (aka Co-conspirator #1) company ADCS, Inc. invested too heavily in Duke Cunningham. Now that Duke's been de-listed, ADCS is on the rocks. According to the local paper, the North County Times, company headquarters -- built in 2003 for $12 million -- is up on the auction block.

If only he'd been the first co-conspirator to cut a deal ...