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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

Haaretz:

Three Arab states in the Persian Gulf would be willing to allow the Israel Air force to enter their airspace in order to reach Iran in case of an attack on its nuclear facilities, the Kuwaiti newspaper Al-Siyasa reported on Sunday.

According to the report, a diplomat from one of the gulf states visiting Washington on Saturday said the three states, Qatar, Oman and the United Arab Emirates, have told the United States that they would not object to Israel using their airspace, despite their fear of an Iranian response.

Al-Siyasa further reported that NATO leaders are urging Turkey to open its airspace for an Attack on Iran as well and to also open its airports and borders in case of a ground attack.

It doesn't appear to be online yet,* but Seymour Hersh has a piece in the latest New Yorker on Pentagon contingency planning for a military strike against Iran. From Reuters:

Despite the Bush administration's insistence it has no plans to go to war with Iran, a Pentagon panel has been created to plan a bombing attack that could be implemented within 24 hours of getting the go-ahead from President George W. Bush, The New Yorker magazine reported in its latest issue.

The special planning group was established within the office of the Joint Chiefs of Staff in recent months, according to an unidentified former U.S. intelligence official cited in the article by investigative reporter Seymour Hersh in the March 4 issue.

The panel initially focused on destroying Iran's nuclear facilities and on regime change but has more recently been directed to identify targets in Iran that may be involved in supplying or aiding militants in Iraq, according to an Air Force adviser and a Pentagon consultant, who were not identified.

The consultant and a former senior intelligence official both said that U.S. military and special-operations teams had crossed the border from Iraq into Iran in pursuit of Iranian operatives, according to the article.

In response to the report, Pentagon spokesman Bryan Whitman said: "The United States is not planning to go to war with Iran. To suggest anything to the contrary is simply wrong, misleading and mischievous.


In addition, Hersh reports that Israel has provided the U.S. with intelligence, the validity of which is still being debated, that Iran has developed an intercontinental missile capable of delivering several small warheads that could reach Europe, according to Reuters.

Update: Meanwhile, The Sunday Times reports:

SOME of America’s most senior military commanders are prepared to resign if the White House orders a military strike against Iran, according to highly placed defence and intelligence sources.

Tension in the Gulf region has raised fears that an attack on Iran is becoming increasingly likely before President George Bush leaves office. The Sunday Times has learnt that up to five generals and admirals are willing to resign rather than approve what they consider would be a reckless attack.

“There are four or five generals and admirals we know of who would resign if Bush ordered an attack on Iran,” a source with close ties to British intelligence said. “There is simply no stomach for it in the Pentagon, and a lot of people question whether such an attack would be effective or even possible.”


*Late Update: Hersh's piece is now posted.

Peter Carlson has a little fun with a 139-count, 267-page indictment in a Pennsylvania public corruption case:

Normally, The Washington Post does not cover the legal woes of Pennsylvania state senators, but this indictment is simply too good to pass up. It's a deliciously entertaining document that should be read by every political-science student in America. It's a bizarre account of the adventures of a millionaire pol whose over-the-top greed makes recently convicted ex-congressmen Duke Cunningham and Bob Ney seem like penny-ante pikers. If this indictment is accurate, Vincent J. Fumo is a man driven by a compulsion to get somebody else to pay for everything his heart desires, including the aforementioned tiki torches, gourmet paint, vacuum cleaners and bobblehead dolls.


Unfortunately, the Post doesn't link to the must-read indictment.

Update: You can read the indictment here. (Thanks to TPM Reader TC for the link).

A couple of pieces out today examine K Street's role in a post-Abramoff Democratic Congress. More here and here.

Sixteen million Americans live in "severe poverty," defined as individuals making less than $5,080 annually and families of four making less than $9,903. Yeah, 16,000,000.

We all know intuitively that Dick Cheney is delusional when he says that the British partial withdrawal in southern Iraq is a sign of success in stabilizing the region; but, for a more concrete sense of how badly the British have failed and how cowardly Tony Blair has become, you can't do better than Patrick Cockburn's piece yesterday in The Independent.

From the conservative Daily Telegraph:

Israel is negotiating with the United States for permission to fly over Iraq as part of a plan to attack Iran's nuclear facilities, The Daily Telegraph can reveal.

To conduct surgical air strikes against Iran's nuclear programme, Israeli war planes would need to fly across Iraq. But to do so the Israeli military authorities in Tel Aviv need permission from the Pentagon.

A senior Israeli defence official said negotiations were now underway between the two countries for the US-led coalition in Iraq to provide an "air corridor" in the event of the Israeli government deciding on unilateral military action to prevent Teheran developing nuclear weapons.


I suppose the Iraqis themselves--a sovereign country, we are reminded by the Bush Administration when it's convenient--would be militarily helpless to stop Israeli overflights, but one can imagine that the backlash against U.S. troops by Iraqi Shiites would be swift and fierce. We might find ourselves longing for the days when we were merely caught in a civil war.

Update: Then again, the Israelis may need help just to find Iran.

Late update: Reuters reports that Israel is denying the report in the Telegraph. More here.

As Paul noted yesterday, another U.S. attorney has resigned, this one in Michigan. The Washington Post today confirms that "Margaret Chiara, the 63-year-old U.S. attorney in Grand Rapids, Mich., . . . was among a larger group of prosecutors who were first asked to resign Dec. 7."

That brings to eight the number of U.S. attorneys pushed out in the post-mid-term-election purge. DOJ has said the total was less than 10, but has declined to be specific. Were there others we still don't know about?

NRA crazies and their corporate sponsors cannibalize one of their brethren--'cause who wouldn't want the right to vaporize prairie dogs with military-style assault rifles.

Washington Post:

Two senior officials at the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives who opposed many questionable management and spending decisions by the agency's former director are being moved to lower-ranking positions effective Thursday, officials said. . . .

The transfers are widely seen within ATF as demotions. They come seven months after the sudden departure of Carl J. Truscott, the former director, who clashed with Domenech and other senior executives over spending and management practices.

An inspector general's report issued after his departure showed that Truscott -- who previously served as head of President Bush's security detail at the Secret Service -- engaged in a wide-ranging pattern of questionable expenditures on a new ATF headquarters, personal security and other items. The report also said that he violated ethics rules by forcing employees to help his nephew prepare a high school video project.

Domenech took over for Truscott after he resigned and reversed a decision to include a costly engraved quotation from Bush's speech to Congress after the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks at the new headquarters entrance.


SOP for the Bush Administration.

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