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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

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.

You can almost hear the collective sigh of relief coming out of Main Justice as the reign of Alberto Gonzales officially ends.

From The Politico:

In his testimony, Petraeus used the military science term “battlefield geometry” in describing how he figured out the number of troops he could afford to release. A top GOP Senate adviser complained after the speech: “The president needs better 'communication geometry' to prevent overreaching with happy talk."

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