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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

Remember the long-delayed National Intelligence Estimate on Iraq that the Bush Administration managed to push off completing until after the election? Well, the Administration has slow-rolled completion of the NIE past the introduction of the surge and the State of the Union address, according to Ken Silverstein at Harper's:

The situation came to a head last week, during a closed-door session of the Senate Armed Services Committee. This committee expected to be briefed on the long-awaited NIE by an official from the National Intelligence Council (NIC), which coordinates NIEs by gathering input from all of the nation's various intelligence agencies. But the NIC official turned up empty-handed and told the committee that the intelligence community hadn't been able to complete the NIE because of the many demands placed upon it by the Bush Administration to help prepare the new military strategy on Iraq. He then said that not all of the relevant agencies had offered input into the NIE process, and thus it had proven impossible to put together a finished product.


Why, yes, of course. They were too busy rolling out what they're calling a new Iraq policy to prepare the NIE which should inform creation of that new policy. That tells you everything you need to know about the surge.

From TPM Reader TB:

I think you may have touched on this before, but I'd like to reiterate the single biggest mental block that currently makes me think I will not cast my vote for Clinton. It makes my stomach hurt to think that in twenty or thirty years I could look back at a list of presidents that includes "Bush, Clinton, Bush, Clinton." This country is far too great to have to rely on two families for so much presidential leadership. Think about it: a two-term Hillary would be TWENTY-EIGHT years of Bush and Clinton. It's petty, but like I said it's a mental block, and I'm just not sure how I can get over it.


I wouldn't call it a petty concern.

Whoa . . . Steve Clemons calls out presidential candidate Bill Richardson on, um, well, as Clemons phrases it, the "blurring of public responsibilities and 'what should be' private behavior." Man, that didn't take long. Richardson just announced his candidacy today.

To their credit, corporations do not appear to be heeding Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense Charles Stimson's suggestion that they boycott law firms representing Guantanamo detainees:

Instead of Fortune 500 companies such as Microsoft, DaimlerChrysler, and Pfizer dumping their outside counsel in a fit of political protest, firms have largely gotten support from corporate America and from within their partnership ranks.

“Pro bono service and the rule of law are great traditions in the American legal profession, and we at GE have no intention of — and strongly disagree with the suggestion of in any way — discriminating against law firms that represent us on the basis of the pro bono, charitable, or public service that the lawyers in those firms choose to engage in,” Brackett Denniston, senior vice president and general counsel at General Electric, said in a statement. Jenner & Block and Covington, two firms involved in representing detainees, have done legal work for GE.

GE’s not alone in its position.

“I intend to continue to use the firms that regularly represent us. The fact that they engage in pro bono work or work for other clients that I don’t necessarily agree with doesn’t affect my decision,” says William Barr, general counsel of Verizon Communications and former attorney general under President George H.W. Bush. Debevoise & Plimpton and WilmerHale have both represented Verizon and are active in representing detainees.


Stimson has apologized, sort of. He remains on the job.

You may recall the President announcing, during his primetime address on Iraq, the creation of a bipartisan working group to coordinate between the White House and Congress on the war on terrorism:

Acting on the good advice of Senator Joe Lieberman and other key members of Congress, we will form a new, bipartisan working group that will help us come together across party lines to win the war on terror. This group will meet regularly with me and my administration; it will help strengthen our relationship with Congress.


Nice touch there, using Lieberman as a wedge.

But Democratic leaders Nancy Pelosi and Harry Reid have refused to be drawn into the Bush-Lieberman dog and pony show, sending a letter to the President yesterday declining the invitation:

We believe that Congress already has bipartisan structures in place, like the committee system and other Congressional working groups such as the Senate’s National Security Working Group, that could produce the result you described in your speech.

We look forward to working with you within these existing structures, in a bipartisan and fully consultative way, to make progress on efforts against terrorism and other important matters.


A weak and unpopular President and his token Democrat.

A staggering 68 percent of Americans are opposed to the surge, according to the latest Newsweek poll.

Democrats add calcium to diet; spines stiffen. Sen. Jay Rockefeller (D-WV):

Mr. Rockefeller was biting in his criticism of how President Bush has dealt with the threat of Islamic radicalism since the Sept. 11 attacks, saying he believed that the campaign against international terrorism was “still a mystery” to the president.

“I don’t think he understands the world,” Mr. Rockefeller said. “I don’t think he’s particularly curious about the world. I don’t think he reads like he says he does.”

He added, “Every time he’s read something he tells you about it, I think.”


Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA):

Intensifying a war of words over a U.S. troop buildup in Iraq, House of Representatives Speaker Nancy Pelosi accused President George W. Bush on Friday of playing politics with soldiers' lives, a charge the White House called "poisonous."

"The president knows that because the troops are in harm's way that we won't cut off the resources," Pelosi, head of the Democratic-led House, told ABC's "Good Morning America. "That's why he's moving so quickly to put them in harm's way."

Texas Gov. Rick Perry, a Republican, was taken to the woodshed by Texas Congressional Democrats in a secret meeting in Washington on Friday:

Members described the meeting as frank and candid, at times testy, though never hostile. They said they reminded Perry, a Republican, that a redistricting plan he helped push through the Texas Legislature had cost their state possible chairmanships of the Agriculture, Homeland Security and Rules committees.

"We told him now that we are in the majority ... we control a lot of money," said Rep. Solomon Ortiz, D-Corpus Christi.


Uh, well, that's pretty blunt.

Sign of the times: The domain address "impeachbush.com" is up for auction at eBay today. Current bid: $25,200.

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