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

I don't want to let pass the reinstatement of security clearances for House Intelligence Committee staffer Larry Hanauer without commenting on what an ugly incident this was.

Here you have a mid-level Democratic staffer stripped of his ability to do his job by the committee Chairman Pete Hoekstra (R-MI) as political payback against Rep. Jane Harman (D-CA), the ranking member who publicly released a report of an internal committee investigation of whether and how convicted felon Duke Cunningham used his position on the committee to advance his corrupt schemes.

Poor Hanauer was caught in the middle. His security clearances were suspended not because of anything he had to do with the Cunningham report but because in the course of doing his job he had requested and received a copy of the National Intelligence Estimatee on Iraq, another classified report that was later leaked to the New York Times.

There was no evidence that Hanauer was in any way connected to the leak. None. There was only the coincidence of timing. Bear in mind that numerous people inside government had access to the report, and Hanauer was only one of them. But look, Rep. Ray Lahood (R-IL) has admitted that this was payback, a shot across Harman's bow. Walter Pincus walks us through the all details again in a piece today in the WaPo.

Hoekstra's tenure has committee chairman has been one long decline into politicization of intelligence and of the oversight process. He hit rock bottom with the Hanauer incident. He was sitting on the Cunningham report because of its embarrassing findings: his fellow GOP committee member was running amok engaged in criminal conduct right under Hoekstra's nose. He and the Administration had been sitting on the politically explosive NIE on Iraq, which mysteriously didn't get distributed to members of the Intel Committee as it normally would have.

In one last spasm of coverup and denial, Hoekstra--and the rest of the GOP leadership--lashed out at a mid-level staffer. It's a disgrace.

Another Gemayel assassinated in Lebanon, this time the minister of industry Pierre Gemayel.

I don't know why I have such a clear memory of when his uncle, Bashir, was assassinated in 1982 before taking office as Lebanon's newly elected president. Maybe it was because it was the same day Grace Kelly died in Monaco. A strange association. All hell broke loose in Lebanon shortly thereafter, and things are similarly tenuous there now.

CQ: House Ethics Committee investigation of the Mark Foley matter "may end with a whimper, not a bang"--but not until mid-December.

Don't feel like the Iraq War proponents who have finally turned against the war are being beat up enough for their hypocrisy? Then go read as Ken Silverstein pounds Ken Adelman into pulp. In a dignified Harper's kind of way, of course.

Been there, done that?

November 2006: "President Bush said Monday that he has made no decisions about altering the number of U.S. troops in Iraq, and he refused to discuss the pros and cons that would accompany such a decision."

August 2005: President Bush said Thursday no decision has been made on increasing or decreasing U.S. troop levels in Iraq, saying that as "Iraqis stand up, we will stand down" and that only conditions on the ground will dictate when it is time for a reduction in U.S. forces.

April 2004: "Gen. John P. Abizaid, the senior commander in the Middle East, has asked for contingency plans for increasing the number of troops in Iraq. No decision has been made to supplement the 134,000 troops now there, and White House officials said it was unclear whether such a move would help the situation."

November 2003: "The President is going to do what is most effective in Iraq, and he gets recommendations from his commanders on troop levels and what is needed. No decisions have been made about future troops levels," said National Security Advisor Condoleeza Rice.

This could get rather interesting. The decision on who won the race to represent Florida's 13th Congressional District could wind up in the House itself.

Look for congressional hearings in January on the military's "don't ask, don't tell" policy and whether gays should be allowed to serve openly in the armed forces.