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

The Kyl-Lieberman amendment, in substantially revised form, passed 76-22. The most egregious saber-rattling language was removed. We'll have more soon on TPMtv.

I don't know if she deserves the credit for coining a new term, but The Politico's Carrie Budoff Brown has a piece today on "The Get Lost Caucus," which includes Reps. William Jefferson (D-LA), John Doolittle (R-CA), and Rick Renzi (R-AZ), and Sen. Larry Craig (R-ID), all mired in scandal and stripped of their committee posts:

They . . . have been consigned to the Get Lost Caucus — a highly unofficial, exceedingly exclusive, nobody-chooses-to-enroll kind of club. It is four members strong, with potential for growth.

The guidelines for qualification: First, you hit a few legal snags (a raid, an indictment, an arrest), then you lose your committee assignments (or, in the case of Craig, your ranking status).

Lacking clout and commitments, you are the congressional equivalent of walking pneumonia, wounded and worn but still showing a pulse.

The Get Lost Caucus--I have a feeling we'll be appropriating that for our own use. So if Brown came up with it, consider this post a permanent footnote crediting her.

Is it stonewalling, obstruction, or both?

Shortly after Rep. Henry Waxman announced last week that his House Oversight and Government Reform Committee would hold hearings on the Blackwater incident in which 11 Iraqi civilians died, the State Department notified Blackwater that under the terms of its contract no information could be produced without prior written State Department approval.

The fallout from this whole episode has been swift and if you haven't been paying close attention, you may have missed some of developments in recent days. So here's a time line of last week's events:

Sun, Sept. 16: Blackwater incident in which 11 Iraqi civilians are killed after State Department convoy reportedly comes under fire, an account disputed by the Iraqis.

Mon, Sept. 17: Rep. Henry Waxman, chairman of the House Government Reform Committee announces his committee will investigate the Blackwater incident.

Tue, Sept. 18: The American Embassy in Baghdad suspends diplomatic convoys outside the Green Zone.

Wed, Sept. 19: In a phone call, Acting Assistant Secretary of State William Moser warns Blackwater that no information regarding the Blackwater contract can be released without State's prior written approval.

Thu, Sept. 20: Moser repeats the warning in a second call to Blackwater, and State sends Blackwater a follow-up letter again asserting again that the information possessed by Blackwater belongs to State and cannot be disclosed.

Fri, Sept. 21: The four-day suspension of State Department convoys ends and Blackwater resumes business. Secretary of State Condi Rice announces that her department will undertake a "full and complete review" of diplomatic security in Iraq.
Since then, aides to Rice have notified Waxman that she herself will not testify about Blackwater or about Iraqi corruption inquiries pending before the committee. (In addition, other officials at State have refused to answer questions in the corruption inquiry unless the committee agrees not to disclose their answers.)

Things may come to a head sooner rather than later. Waxman has scheduled a Blackwater hearing for October 2 and requested that Blackwater founder Erik Prince testify.

The GOP knows a fund-raising opportunity when it sees one, and MoveOn's Petraeus ad is nothing if not a fund-raising opportunity. Here's the email that the National Republican Senatorial Committee has sent out condemning the ad. It's from Sen. John Ensign (R-NV) and asks recipients to sign a petition demanding that Senate Democrats return contributions from MoveOn, while making a pitch to pony up a contribution to the NRSC:

Regardless of how you feel about the war in Iraq, Americans must always value the sacrifice and service of America's soldiers. We cannot let our political views cloud our judgment and cast any shadow of a doubt on our soldiers' honor.

Sign the Petition to Senate Democrats today urging them to return MoveOn's contributions.

And after you complete the Petition, please make an immediate contribution of $25, $50, $75, $100, $500 or even $1,000 to our efforts to regain the Republican Senate Majority.

Because what better way to honor our troops' sacrifice than contributing to the NRSC. I have a lump in my throat just thinking about it.