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

Gen. Petraeus and Amb. Crocker appeared this morning at the National Press Club and gave out a little more information on what methodology is used by the U.S. military to calculate "ethno-sectarian" violence but no illumination on the broader question of how Iraqi civilian casualties are tabulated. We're still trying to run that information to ground.

The former chief of staff to jailed congressman Bob Ney (R-OH) gets rewarded for his cooperation in the Jack Abramoff investigation: no jail time, two years of probation, and a $2,000 fine.

Clarence Thomas will be on 60 Minutes later this month, according to Legal Times. No word on who is conducting the interview.

Rep. Lynn Woolsey (D-CA), speaking to anti-war activists (via The Hill):

“You folks should go after the Democrats. . . . I’d hate to lose the majority, but I’m telling you, if we don’t stand up to our responsibility, maybe that’s the lesson to be learned.”

Conservative super-lawyer Ted Olson is the front-runner to be President Bush's pick for attorney general. Senate Dems are less than thrilled, but if last week's 4th Circuit nominee is any indication (oh, and the last 6 1/2 years), the White House will not be offering a consensus-building nominee. We already know that Senate Democrats are threatening to slow down the nomination until they get responses from the Department of Justice and White House to some of their oversight requests, but will Senate Dems fight this nomination on its merits?

You may have seen over at Election Central that among the day's 9/11 commemorations is one hosted by Sean Hannity and featuring, among others, Oliver North, Rudy Giuliani, Sen. Joseph Lieberman, and Ann Coulter. Now, Coulter has had some less than sympathetic things to say about some of the 9/11 widows, at one point remarking, "I've never seen people enjoying their husbands' deaths so much." So it seemed a little odd that Rudy would be appearing at the same 9/11 event as Coulter given that his links to the attacks have been a featured part of his presidential campaign. Now the DNC is calling out Guiliani, demanding that he denounce Coulter's earlier remarks.

As part of the surge-week PR offensive, the President will make a primetime address Thursday announcing that he intends to bring the surge to an end next summer. That means 30,000 U.S. troops will be rotated home without replacements. The White House--and most press reports--will describe this as a troop withdrawal, which is true in a very narrow sense. But this can't seem to be repeated often enough, if credulous press reports are any indication: the surge was only ever designed to be temporary and could not be sustained for any longer than next summer without seriously compromising overall U.S. military readiness. So the surge is coming to end, and troop levels will return to late 2006 levels. The White House can tout it as a troop withdrawal. Gen. Petraeus can claim it is his best professional military judgment. But bringing the surge to an end is a hard reality born of an overstretched military. They can smear all the lipstick they want on that pig, but it's still a pig.

You don't want to put too much emphasis on one response over two days of hearings, but when Sen. John Warner (R-VA) asked Gen. Petraeus a short time ago if victory in Iraq would make America safer, Petraeus hedged before saying, "I don't know." Perhaps it was just a moment of uncharacteristic befuddlement for the general, but if the answer to that question isn't a resounding yes, then, even on the Bush Administration's own terms, it's time to start loading up the troop carriers in Kuwait and bring our people home.

Late Update: In follow-up questioning from Sen. Evan Bayh (D-IN), Petraeus backtracked from his "I don't know" to Sen. Warner.