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

Walter Pincus teases out this little gem:

A week ago today, Gen. David H. Petraeus started his rounds on Capitol Hill, reporting that security in Iraq was improving to the point that a small number of troops could begin coming home by year's end.

But 10 days ago, his commanders in Baghdad began advertising for private contractors to work in combat-supply warehouses on U.S. bases throughout Iraq because half the soldiers who had been working in the warehouses were needed for patrols, combat and protection of U.S. forces.

"With the increased insurgent activity, unit supply personnel must continue to pull force protection along with convoy escort and patrol duties," according to a statement of work that accompanied the Sept. 7 request for bidders from Multi-National Force-Iraq.

Former U.S. District Court Judge Michael B. Mukasey is emerging as President Bush's possible nominee to replace Alberton Gonzales, The Times reports. The Politico goes farther:

White House officials signaled to influential conservatives this weekend that Michael B. Mukasey, a nominee of President Ronald Reagan who is the former chief judge of the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York, is the likely choice to replace Attorney General Alberto Gonzales, several Republicans close to the process told The Politico.

"It came down to confirmability," said a former Justice Department official close to the conversations.

The anticipated move was originally reported last night by The Weekly Standard's Bill Kristol, in what looks like a preemptive attempt to mollify disgruntled conservatives: the piece was titled, "Michael Mukasey to be Attorney General . . . And conservatives should be happy."

Images of Gen. David Petraeus appeared in an ad the Giuliani campaign began running yesterday attacking Hillary Clinton. The Pentagon says the use of the Petraeus images was done without Petraeus' consent. Military personnel are barred by Pentagon regulations from appearing in political ads in uniform. Greg has more at Election Central.

Retiring Joint Chiefs of Staff Chairman Peter Pace:

Offering a blunt assessment of the decisions and recommendations he made back in early 2003, an introspective Pace told Pentagon reporters that with the aid of 20-20 hindsight, it's clear he made "errors in assumption."

"One of the mistakes I made in my assumptions going in was that the Iraqi people and the Iraqi army would welcome liberation, that the Iraqi army, given the opportunity, would stand together for the Iraqi people and be available to them to help serve the new nation," said Pace, who will leave the chairman's job on Oct. 1. "If I knew that the Iraqi army was not going to be available, then I probably would have made a different recommendation about the total size force going in."

In retrospect, he said, "you say you wish you knew, but you didn't know on the way in."

Former Federal Reserve Chairman Alan Greenspan:

In a withering critique of his fellow Republicans, former Federal Reserve Chairman Alan Greenspan says in his memoir that the party to which he has belonged all his life deserved to lose power last year for forsaking its small-government principles. . . .

Mr. Greenspan, who calls himself a "lifelong libertarian Republican," writes that he advised the White House to veto some bills to curb "out-of-control" spending while the Republicans controlled Congress. He says President Bush's failure to do so "was a major mistake." Republicans in Congress, he writes, "swapped principle for power. They ended up with neither. They deserved to lose."

It was Alberto Gonzales' last day as attorney general. So what better way to end his embarrassing tenure than with a DOJ inspector general audit. From the AP (thanks to TPM Reader HL for the tip):

An internal Justice audit, released Friday, showed the department spent nearly $7 million to plan, host or send employees to 10 conferences over the last two years. This included paying $4 per meatball at one lavish dinner and spreading an average of $25 worth of snacks around to each participant at a movie-themed party. . . .

The report, which looked at the 10 priciest Justice Department conferences between October 2004 and September 2006, was ordered by the Senate Appropriations Committee. It also found that three-quarters of the employees who attended the conferences demanded daily reimbursement for the cost of meals while traveling -- effectively double-dipping into government funds. . . .

Six of the 10 conferences were approved by the department's Office of Justice Programs, whose assistant attorney general, Regina Schofield, resigned this week. It could not immediately be determined whether the report had anything to do with that, but Carr said Schofield left to take a job with a nonprofit child welfare services organization.

An audit ordered by Senate Democrats. A suspiciously timed resignation by an assistant attorney general. Gonzo was under siege until the bitter end. Just for old times' sake, here's one last look at the Top 10 Moments of Alberto Gonzales Ridiculousness.

The fallout over Minority Leader John Boehner's "small price" comment about the Iraq War continues. Two House Democratic leaders have raised their objections to the comment, and CNN has picked up the story, or more precisely, returned to it. Boehner's remarks were made earlier in the week in a CNN interview with Wolf Blitzer but gained attention after being flagged by TPM's Greg Sargent.

The White House has provided us with the list of 36 nations the President was referring to last night in his speech when he said, "We thank the 36 nations who have troops on the ground in Iraq and the many others who are helping that young democracy. "

The key phrase there is "troops on the ground."

If you take a look at the list we were provided, by a National Security Council official, the first heading is "Countries with troops on ground in Iraq." Only 26 countries appear in that category. The remaining 10 countries are assigned to either United Nations Assistance Mission in Iraq or to NATO Training NTM-I.

So by the President's own accounting, the math is wrong. As Spencer Ackerman points out, there are other problems with the numbers. Canada is listed, for example, among the 36, but it pulled out its one and only person in Iraq months ago. The numbers, in short, are a sham.

Now, whether it's 36 countries or 106, shouldn't distract from the larger shams, such as the implication that there remains international support for the U.S. mission in Iraq or the suggestion that anyone other than the U.S. is doing virtually all of the heavy lifting there.

But after the famous 16 words on Niger in his State of the Union speech, after 4 1/2 years of duck and cover on Iraq, after all of the lies, deceptions, and falsehoods, it plumbs news depths of dishonesty to include such a bogus number as "36 nations" in a speech that begins with the following lines: "In the life of all free nations, there come moments that decide the direction of a country and reveal the character of its people. We are now at such a moment."

The President once again revealed his character. Were that it was of the same quality as that of the people he leads.

It just about epitomizes the President's speech last night. One of the purported 36 coalition nations is Iceland, whose "contingent" to Iraq consists of a single soldier in Baghdad whose primary responsibility is as a media representative. To NATO's disappointment, Iceland is pulling that one soldier as of October 1. You can't make this stuff up.

We still haven't managed to figure out how the President's math gets him to 36 nations in the coalition. But whatever the number, it will be minus one when a single Icelander heads home in a couple of weeks.

Late Update: TPM Reader EF points out that Iceland doesn't even have a formally constituted military, which the CIA World Fact Book confirms. The lone Icelander is a member of the Icelandic Crisis Response Unit. Calling him a soldier may be overstating matters.