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

TPM Reader JO, on the U.S. Attorney purges:

A lot of people seem to be getting snowed by the dodge that some of the acting US Attorneys will go through the confirmation process as if it gets rid of the problem, but it really doesn't.

Before they changed the statute, the President had no effective way to put a political stooge in as US Attorney for more than 4 months without buy-in from another branch of government (or a year at most via a recess appointment). But now he can, and putting the stooge up for confirmation is a no-lose proposition. If the Senate confirms, great. If they never give the nominee a hearing, they only prolong his tenure. And if they reject the nominee, he can still stay in office until a new nominee is appointed -- which might never happen.

This is a serious blow to effective law-enforcement, and it's going to make morale plummet in prosecutors' offices all over the country.

Has anyone introduced legislation yet to strip this misguided provision from the Patriot Act?

Update: The answer is yes. Senators Feinstein, Leahy, and Pryor have introduced the Preserving United States Attorney Independence Act, which would restore to the District Courts the power to appoint interim U.S. Attorneys.

The reports of his death having been greatly satirized, Michael Ledeen is now revealed as a caricature of himself. His preening and self-serving answers in a Salon interview are too numerous to meaningfully excerpt. So go take a look.

Pretty strong stuff for a straight news lead (from McClatchy):

President Bush and his aides, explaining their reasons for sending more American troops to Iraq, are offering an incomplete, oversimplified and possibly untrue version of events there that raises new questions about the accuracy of the administration's statements about Iraq.

But certainly not unwarranted.

From The Independent:

The American company appointed to advise the US government on the economic reconstruction of Iraq has paid hundreds of thousands of dollars into Republican Party coffers and has admitted that its own finances are in chaos because of accounting errors and bad management.

. . .

BearingPoint [formerly KPMG] is being paid $240m for its work in Iraq, winning an initial contract from the US Agency for International Development (USAid) within weeks of the fall of Saddam Hussein in 2003. It was charged with supporting the then Coalition Provisional Authority to introduce policies "which are designed to create a competitive private sector". Its role is to examine laws, regulations and institutions that regulate trade, commerce and investment, and to advise ministries and the central bank.

Last week The Independent on Sunday revealed that a BearingPoint employee, based in the US embassy in Baghdad, had been tasked with advising the Iraqi Ministry of Oil on drawing up a new hydrocarbon law. The legislation, which is due to be presented to Iraq's parliament within days, will give Western oil companies a large slice of profits from the country's oil fields in exchange for investing in new oil infrastructure.

Sounds like another investigation for Henry Waxman.

You know it's bad--very, very bad--when Trent Lott gets bashful:

Last Tuesday afternoon, a day before President George W. Bush went on TV to explain his decision to send more troops to Iraq, Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell called his Republican colleagues together for a private talk. Several GOP senators had already come out against the plan. McConnell, Bush's closest Senate supporter on Iraq, hoped to keep others from defecting. He urged his colleagues to stand together at least until Bush had the chance to speak to the country.

After the meeting, the senators went outside the room to display their unity to waiting reporters. McConnell said he thought more troops were just the thing to "give us a chance to succeed." He then stepped aside so the other senators could second his sentiments. No one came forward. McConnell's eye fell on Trent Lott. "Trent?" McConnell said, motioning him toward the microphone. "I don't think I have anything to add," said Lott.

Thanks to TPM Reader JW for the catch.

I have not been satisfied with Democratic efforts to link our adventure in Iraq to the deteriorating situation in Afghanistan and to setbacks in our overall counterterrorism strategy. Perhaps this somber assessment will help focus Democrats:

Henry Crumpton, the outgoing State Department terror coordinator . . . [and] ex-CIA operative . . . told NEWSWEEK that a worldwide surge in Islamic radicalism has worsened recently, increasing the number of potential terrorists and setting back U.S. efforts in the terror war. "Certainly, we haven't made any progress," said Crumpton. "In fact, we've lost ground." He cites Iraq as a factor; the war has fueled resentment against the United States.

For Democrats opposed to the Iraq war who still fear a backlash for not being tough enough, advocating for more resources for the wars in Afghanistan and against global terrorism has the dual benefit of showing a stiff spine and pursuing the right policy.

From an advance copy of an anti-war speech to be given by John Edwards today in Harlem: "If you’re in Congress and you know this war is going in the wrong direction, it is no longer enough to study your options and keep your own counsel."

Condi Rice channeling Donald Rumsfeld:

Aboard her plane, Rice also told reporters that the United States would not abandon Iraq even if Bush's latest plan fails.

"We're not pulling the plug on Iraq," she said. "I think we'll worry about making Plan A work for now. And obviously, if it doesn't, then you know, we're not going to say, oh my goodness, that didn't work, there's nothing that can be done."

Oh my goodness.

In the latest development involving those immigration raids at meat packing plants last month, a federal judge in Denver has gotten his hands on the Colorado case and apparently doesn't like what he sees:

A federal judge ordered immigration officials Friday to provide the names and whereabouts of at least 260 immigrant workers arrested during a raid at Greeley's Swift & Co. meatpacking plant.

U.S. District Judge John L. Kane also warned lawyers representing U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement that he is scrutinizing how they handled the detainees.

. . .

In response to allegations that ICE agents denied detainees their due-process rights and coerced them to sign voluntary deportation orders after the Dec. 12 sweep, Kane ordered ICE to hold bond hearings within 48 hours for any jailed Swift workers who had not yet had such a hearing.

Kane also ordered ICE not to deport Swift detainees who had signed papers agreeing to leave the country and giving up legal rights, and to withdraw those orders if the detainees want.