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David Kurtz

David Kurtz is Managing Editor and Washington Bureau Chief of Talking Points Memo where he oversees the news operations of TPM and its sister sites.

Articles by David

Yesterday, the White House announced it would nominate E. Duncan Getchell, Jr., to a seat on the U.S. 4th Circuit Court of Appeals. But as the Richmond Times-Dispatch reports today, Getchell was not on a list of five possible nominees submitted to the White House by Virginia Sens. John Warner (R) and Jim Webb (D). Instead, Getchell had appeared on an earlier list submitted to the White House by Warner and then-Sen. George Allen (R), who Webb defeated last year:

"Today, despite our good faith, bipartisan effort to accommodate the president, the recommendations that Senator Warner and I made have been ignored," Webb said last night.

"The White House talks about the spirit of bipartisanship. . . . The White House cannot expect to complain about the confirmation of federal judges when they proceed to act in this manner," Webb added.

Webb said he and Warner jointly interviewed more than a dozen attorneys, received ratings of candidates from bar groups and submitted five "outstanding" names.


Warner is not happy either, the paper reports:

Warner said in a terse statement, "I steadfastly remain committed to the recommendations stated in my joint letter with Senator Webb to the president, dated June 12, 2007, and I have so advised in a respectful, consistent manner in my consultations with the White House senior staff."


The White House and the Senate leadership worked out a deal before the summer recess that the President would not make any recess appointments provided that the Senate moved on some of the President's nominations. It's not clear whether this is one such nomination, but the irony would be rich if it were.

One other point to be made. As the Times-Dispatch notes, a third of the 4th Circuit seats are open at the moment, which has left the reliably conservative appeals court evenly split between Democrats and Republicans. So the appointment of a Federalist Society member like Getchell, if confirmed, would help sway the idealogical bent of the court back to where the GOP base would like it to be--staunchly conservative.

Fred Thompson: "we better figure out a way" to combat al Qaeda.

Perhaps before "we" run for President?

Late Update: The video, from ABC's "Good Morning America":

We learned this week from Robert Draper's new book that the Decider remained convinced until as late as 2006 that Iraq had had WMD right up until the U.S. invasion:

Though it was not the sort of thing one could say publicly anymore, the president still believed that Saddam had possessed weapons of mass destruction. He repeated this conviction to Andy Card all the way up until Card’s departure in April 2006, almost exactly three years after the Coalition had begun its fruitless search for WMDs.


Compare and contrast that point of view (article of faith) with what we learned today from Sidney Blumenthal about what President Bush had been told about Iraqi WMD by then-CIA Director George Tenet in the fall of 2002:

On Sept. 18, 2002, CIA director George Tenet briefed President Bush in the Oval Office on top-secret intelligence that Saddam Hussein did not have weapons of mass destruction, according to two former senior CIA officers. Bush dismissed as worthless this information from the Iraqi foreign minister, a member of Saddam's inner circle, although it turned out to be accurate in every detail. Tenet never brought it up again.

Nor was the intelligence included in the National Intelligence Estimate of October 2002, which stated categorically that Iraq possessed WMD. No one in Congress was aware of the secret intelligence that Saddam had no WMD as the House of Representatives and the Senate voted, a week after the submission of the NIE, on the Authorization for Use of Military Force in Iraq. The information, moreover, was not circulated within the CIA among those agents involved in operations to prove whether Saddam had WMD.


Blumenthal talked to "two former senior CIA officers" who provided accounts of what Tenent briefed to Bush:

"Tenet told me he briefed the president personally," said one of the former CIA officers. According to Tenet, Bush's response was to call the information "the same old thing." Bush insisted it was simply what Saddam wanted him to think. "The president had no interest in the intelligence," said the CIA officer. The other officer said, "Bush didn't give a fuck about the intelligence. He had his mind made up."


It's no surprise that this President is not one to test his beliefs and conclusions against the facts, neither the old facts nor the newly emerging facts. In the strange twilight of the Bush Presidency, the new revelation about what the President was briefed on and when about WMD falls into that category of things we thought we knew but for which we lacked all of the hard evidence.

The rumored short list of potential attorney general nominees doesn't include DHS Secretary Michael Chertoff any longer.

Apparently the push-back from the Senate GOP leadership has convinced Larry Craig to soften his stance about staying in the Senate--but he hasn't completely given up retaining his seat. It would take a confluence of unlikely events--successful withdrawal of his guilty plea and a quick dismissal of the case--for Craig to be able to resolve (or would that be re-resolve?) his legal case by September 30, a reality that Craig's spokesman is now acknowledging.

The Hill explores the relationship between Sen. Ted Stevens (R-AK) and Alaska businessman Bob Penney. An earmark here. A sweetheart land deal there. Pretty soon you're talking real muck.

Passed on without comment:

Supporters of Sen. Larry Craig with the American Land Rights Association are calling for a boycott of the Minneapolis-Saint Paul Airport.

The Battle Ground (Washington) based association says airport police who arrested the senator in a men's room sex sting are responsible for weakening private property rights in the West. Craig is a Republican member of the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee.


Late Update: More on the boycott from the website of the American Land Rights Association (.pdf):

By ambushing Senator Larry Craig, the Minneapolis St Paul Airport Police have effectively declared war on the West. They are primarily responsible for greatly weakening private property rights and Federal land use advocates in the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee and in Congress. We are urging you to make all your flight arrangements avoiding the Minneapolis-St Paul Airport for at least the next year and probably longer. We’ll keep you posted as the boycott develops. Urge your friends, neighbors and fellow workers to try to avoid any flights that take them through Minneapolis St Paul Airport. We must inflict economic pain on the airport authorities to get them to change their behavior. -----And they must apologize to Senator Larry Craig.

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