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In the department of

In the department of reassurances that aren't that reassuring, tonight we find this gem from tonight's Wolf Blitzer show:

BLITZER: Is the D.C. police department qualified -- knows what it's doing in this kind of investigation in your experience?

HENNESSY [Former DC Detective]: As a matter of fact, I think that D.C. police department is probably more suited to handle these types of cases. I mean, there's probably been -- there's no department in the country probably has more experience handling murders than D.C. because of the murder rate that we had in the 90s. So the investigators certainly are very qualified.

What's that line about an ounce of prevention?

I plan on making

I plan on making this the last post on this question, but this is instructive.

Here's the key portion of Marina Ein's second statement on my July 16th Salon article; it's dated July 18th.

I did not, and would not, make the statements that have been attributed to me ... I am the mother of a daughter who is approximately Chandra Levy's age, and I am a female professional. The suggestion that I would make comments like those attributed to me is abhorrent.
Here's a clip from the New York Daily News' Thursday article about the Chandra Levy investigation, with emphasis added:
Ein released a statement denying she told reporters DePaulo was working on a story about Levy's alleged one-night stands, calling the suggestion she would say such things "abhorrent."

But the Daily News has confirmed that Ein made the comments to reporters for at least three news organizations.

She did not return calls from The News but told The Washington Post: "I'm so exhausted, and frankly I'm at the end of my rope with this whole thing."

I guess it turns out that this is one of those suggestions that is both "abhorrent" and true.

At least so says The Daily News.

As a devoted fan

As a devoted fan of HBO's The Sopranos I wasn't just disappointed, I felt almost insulted, when I heard that HBO's next drama series would be about a family of undertakers, Six Feet Under. This seemed like a classic example of network execs trying to carbon copy a good idea and failing pitifully rather than daring to use the same originality and abandon that got them a blockbuster in the first place.

Oh, you think the show about the crime family is good? Well, hey, this one's gonna be about a family of undertakers! It can't lose! They're handling dead guys all the time. It'll be great! That or like, you know, a sitcom about a hapless serial killer who's got a heart of gold. You get the idea. Anyway, it turns out this new show is really good. Dark, and muted, and anxious, with a mix of clotted emotion and deathly detachment. No, Sopranos it ain't. But then what is? It's an impossible standard. Definitely give it a try.

I believe I can

I believe I can tell you with some assurance that today was the weirdest day of my entire life. I've had better days, I suppose. And I've certainly had worse. But for sheer immersion in the surreal, this one pretty much takes the cake.

As I write it is about 3:15 AM on the East Coast and I am watching the final rerun of tonight's Larry King Live. The topic thus far is one in which I have to say I have a great deal of interest and no little expertise. That is, whether or not I am a liar.

(The issue at hand here of course is the article I published in Salon about Condit flack Marina Ein, in which I quoted her saying that "Chandra Levy has a history of one-night stands." She has now issued a press release insisting that she never said any of the things attributed to her in my article, and thus presumably didn't say what I quoted her as saying. Needless to say, that is absolutely false.)

Luckily (and accurately) the consensus seems to be that I am not a liar. Although Mark Geragos -- one-time lawyer for Susan McDougal and Roger Clinton -- keeps raising the possibility, or suggesting that the panel consider the possibility, that I am lying about what Marina Ein said to me when I interviewed her on Monday afternoon. Sitting at the very desk where I did the interview, and typing on the very computer on which I wrote the article, I assume you can imagine how hearing all this on my TV set might constitute a rather bizarre experience. To Mark I can only say, well, actually why don't I not say, so as not to offend ...

I'll come back to this in some more detail, but there's one more thing I need to mention. During the first segment of Larry King Live I watched with great pride and affection as my friend and Salon editor Kerry Lauerman resolutely defended me and my article when King asked if Salon had any doubts about the piece or any plans to pull it. Let me take this opportunity to publicly thank Kerry and the rest of the folks at Salon.com for their immediate and unwavering support during this whole episode.

Ive had a slew

I've had a slew of emails over recent days asking why I haven't or when I would comment on the New York Times article on overseas absentee ballots. I will very soon.

As you might imagine I've been buried under an avalanche of Chandra-related stuff in recent days. And then there's that added matter of defending myself against Gary Condit's spokeswoman who has falsely accused me of including falsehoods in my article about her and her client. (Be not afraid loyal Talking Points readers: the facts are very much on my side.) But I will soon be discussing the Times article at some length. Also soon to come is comment on the stunning political news out of Great Britain.

On Talking Points I

On Talking Points I usually dish out comment and speculation with a mix of sarcasm and jest. But some issues require more seriousness and precision. This is one of them.

As you may have heard, or may yet hear, Gary Condit's spokeswoman Marina Ein (the subject of my article which appeared today in Salon) has publicly accused me of including multiple falsehoods in my article. Particularly (and here I quote from Ein's letter to Salon), she says:

"As it is, these statements, and others attributed to me in Mr. Marshall's piece are false and destructive. Further, the premise of the piece - that I was somehow engaged in an effort to cast aspersions on Ms. Levy's character or past - is entirely false."
It is worth noting that in her letter (which I assume Salon will publish tomorrow) Ms. Ein never denies having said what I quoted her as saying. That one quote being: "What about the fact that Lisa DePaulo is working on this article for Talk magazine and it turns out Chandra Levy has a history of one-night stands?"

I understand that there will be at least a couple articles written on this mini-controversy in tomorrow's papers. So when I read them I will comment on whatever Ein or anyone else is quoted as saying.

But for now let me state the following clearly and unequivocally: I stand behind the article 100%. The quotation in question is a word-for-word quotation from Ms. Ein from an on-the-record phone interview yesterday afternoon. Anything anyone states to the contrary is untrue, period.

P.S. If you'd like to see me say the same thing on TV, I'm on O'Reilly tonight on Fox News. And then on some other Fox show -- I'm not completely sure which -- at approximately 9:30 AM EST tomorrow morning.

I wrote a piece

I wrote a piece tonight in Salon detailing how Gary Condit's press spokesman Marina Ein told me that "Chandra Levy has a history of one-night stands." Were this true, it might be relevant to police trying to figure out how she came to harm and, so forth. But let me be clear: I have good reason to believe that this is actually not true. Not that I don't know it to be true, but that I have positive reasons to believe it is false.

In any case, as I noted in the piece, this really isn't very effective PR, to put it mildly.

Certainly this isn't going to make Condit look very good. But it goes beyond that. Gary Condit's biggest problem thus far hasn't been the police, for better or worse. It's been Chandra's aggrieved and heart-broken family who've dogged his every step with an endless stream of anecdotal tidbits, morsels, and veiled accusations.

And that was before his flacks started trashing their daughter.

On another matter, this article in Tuesday's Washington Post says the Condit team has still not turned over the polygraph results they trumpeted last Friday. Chief Ramsey mentioned this on the Sunday shows. Ein told me on Monday afternoon that one portion of the test results had been sent to police on Friday and that the remainder had been sent on Monday monring. Are they really still holding on to those records? And if so, why?

No time to go

No time to go into too much detail on this now, but the aspect of this story which has yet to get a lot of attention is the DC police department's general reputation for incompetence and boobery, and how much their rep, not just Gary Condit's, is on the line in how this whole situation turns out.

You may have seen the computer-enhanced pictures the police released which allegedly show what Chandra might look if she was in disguise.

It might be more accurate to say that this is how Chandra might look if someone took a picture of her and gave the photograph to a six year old with a bottle of paste and some pre-school clip-art. I mean, you don't want to be overly jocular about this, but these enhanced photos don't exactly inspire a lot of confidence in the folks heading up the investigation. If this is computer-generated, what's the computer? The Atari 400 my Dad bought me when I was like twelve?

Anyway, the point is that the DC police department has a very bad reputation, and though the current leadership, Ramsey et.al., were brought in to clean the place up, they've clearly still got a lot of work ahead of them. The local Fox affiliate just reported Friday night that a slew of officers were just taken off the beat and given desk duty because they didn't know how to load their weapons. If the mystery of Levy's disappearance is simply never solved -- or if the evidentiary trail just grows cold -- the DC police department is going to start looking a lot like the Boulder PD after the JonBenet case. And they know that.

So it's important to see all the conspicuous aggressiveness of the investigation in recent days -- like arranging for TV crews to be there when they search vacant buildings -- in this light. This doesn't mean all the searching isn't necessary, or that they shouldn't be leaning so hard on Condit, but it's just important to keep this part of the story in mind.

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