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Josh Marshall

Josh Marshall is editor and publisher of TalkingPointsMemo.com.

Articles by Josh

Very interesting news out of Italy this morning, and news which appears to confirm a theory advanced recently by a poster at theleftcoaster.com (big coup for him, about which I'll explain more later). As you know, I've reported that the second report from Italian intelligence to the CIA about the Niger-Iraq story, the report in February of 2002, was a text transcription of what would later turn out to be one of the forged documents.

But there's one more small detail, reported this morning in La Repubblica. The report sent over from Italy removed the out-of-date names (one of the key reasons they were spotted later as forgeries) and replaced them with the correct names. In other words, there seems to have been a conscious effort to cover up the fact that the documents were bogus, to clean them up, as it were.

This raises a number of questions, which I'll try to address in a subsequent post. I'm running between meetings this morning. But for now one more detail.

La Repubblica has confirmed that three days after SISMI sent its original report to the CIA on October 15th, 2001, Nicolo Pollari himself followed up with another report on October 18th. This follow-up was in response to a CIA query about the quality of the sourcing behind the report on the 15th.

Pollari told the CIA that the report was quite credible and that the information originated with a woman working for SISMI in the Niger Embassy in Rome.

More soon on what this all means.

Frist manages to mix being a doofus with immoral embrace of torture.

Rewarded with a choice headline.

CNN/AP Headline: "Frist concerned more about leaks than secret prisons."

Drudge reports this as an excerpt from Arthur Sulzberger discussing the Judy Miller debacle from an appearance this evening on Charlie Rose ...

THIS PALES BY COMPARISON TO THE JASON BLAIR, IT'S NOT EVEN ON THE SAME SCALE. JASON BLAIR AND THE ISSUES THAT FLOW FROM THAT, THOSE WERE FUNDAMENTAL ISSUES INVOLVING NOT JUST A REPORTER, BUT A WHOLE SERIES IN "THE NEW YORK TIMES." THAT WAS HARD. AND MY FAMILY STOOD BY ME LIKE A BULLWARK. AND THEY DID THIS TIME, TOO.


He really doesn't get it, does he?

Sure, Jayson Blair's transgressions were open-and-shut journalistic capital offenses. No question it was terrible and that his career was over. But, honestly, what were the real world consequences of his misdeeds? Pretty minimal.

And the Miller fiasco? Well, yes, more complicated. But the real world consequences? Immeasurably greater. And the paper's dragged out, compromised way of dealing with the whole mess? He really doesn't seem to grasp what happened.

Quote of the Day ...

Rep. David Dreier (R-CA): "We are not cutting Medicaid for those truly in need."

Apparently they're only cutting benefits for upper and middle-income Medicaid beneficiaries.

Today's an example of one of the reasons I'm eager to have a blog-reporter not just literally up on capitol hill but more generally following all the ins and outs of what's going on up there.

What we're seeing today are the cascading effects of the breakdown of Republican party discipline, beginning with the collapse of the president's popularity (especially the rather sudden recognition of that fact within Washington) and echoing out from there.

Moderate Republicans have toed the Bush line because they've believed he could protect them, as indeed he has. They don't believe that now. So a lot of them don't want to go into the election next year with ANWR drilling hanging over them.

They balk on the left and then in response the 'wingers on the other right refuse the compromises they've agreed to. Suddenly the whole thing starts to pull apart since there's no centripetal force, no organizing power to hold things together -- sort of like Hobbesian state creation run in reverse.

The recognition has sunk in: The president is unpopular and weak. And it's every Republican for him or herself.

And did I mention, pass the popcorn?

From a knowledgeable observer on the hill ...

Two important developments today point to the Bush administration’s collapse of support on Capitol Hill. The first involves the House dropping ANWR from their spending reconciliation bill because 22 moderate Republicans refused to support the measure on the floor if included (no telling yet whether it will pass even w/ ANWR dropped bc of food stamp and child support collection cuts). The next involves the postponement of the tax reconciliation mark up in the Senate Finance Committee, where Olympia Snowe (generally prone to caving after getting the call from Andy Card) refused to buckle and support extension of the capital gains and dividend tax cuts – a signature WH priority. Tax cuts used to be a cakewalk for the WH, now they cant even get them out of committee.


More to follow.

It just occurred to me that even if Democrats manage to totally blow this coming election cycle and don't make substantial pick-ups in November, we're still virtually guaranteed twelve months of watching Republicans furiously working to find ways to stab each other in the back.

So, really, even the fall-back is pretty decent.

Just a thought.

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