Josh Marshall

Josh Marshall is editor and publisher of TalkingPointsMemo.com.

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Early today I set up a thread over at TPMCafe where people could speculate and discuss just what it was that happened today on CNN with Bob Novak. It's actually an amazing mix of speculation and deft insight with, okay, a few wild flights of fancy mixed in. But I was just reading through them and running the images through my mind over and over again as I tried to make sense or evaluate what this or that commentator was saying. And at the risk of saying something mind-numbingly obvious: what a friggin' bizarre episode that was.

I mean, I've seen people storm off sound stages a few times. But there's something even weirder about it than that. A psychologist would have the appropriate terminology. But there's some element of inappropriate affect scattered through the hullabaloo. I just watched it yet again. And even now it's not quite clear to me what Novak's so upset about.

It's like some spastic teenager or maybe the copywriter who pens the screeds for the World Wrestling Federation just started doing a re-write of the script we're all living through.

This is a big story: Paul Volcker reportedly will accuse Benon V. Sevan of taking kickbacks in the Oil-for-Food program.

Yes, Sevan's name has been tossed around for ages.

But so much else you hear about the Oil for Food scandal is all fruit of the same (Chalabite) poison tree. Or else it comes from an organ grinder monkey who happens, through tragic accident, to represent the state of Minnesota in the senate.

But Volcker, to say the least, speaks with much more authority.

Can someone give me some back up or <$NoAd$>elaboration on what TPM Reader KC just sent in to me ...

I recently read Wilson's entry in Who's Who myself, and I can confirm that indeed "Valerie Elise Plame" is named as Joseph Wilson's wife. However, it's important to note that naming wives by their maiden names seems to be standard practice for the book -- Wilson's previous wife is listed by her maiden name, for just one example. This indicates one of two things is likely true: 1) The book is where Novak got her name, and he committed one of the sloppiest and laziest acts of journalism in recent history by not realizing that the book's standard practice list wives by their maiden names or 2) Novak knew that was the standard practice for Who's Who, so once he realized that his source identified Valerie Wilson by her maiden and cover name, he turned to a publicly available source that would naturally list her by that maiden name as "proof" that her cover name was widely known. To me, the second situation seems somewhat more likely. After all, if the book was his actual source for the name and he was interested in protecting the source who told him "Wilson's wife" worked for the CIA, then he would logically have said outright that he got the name from the book. However, Novak has never said the Who's Who guide is where he got the name, just that others could find it there.

I have to confess that I'm not sure I've even seen a copy of Who's Who, let alone opened one, since I was in high school, probably more than twenty years ago. In fact, I think it's a very dated concept or product. Most people under 40, I think, think of Google when they want to find biographical information about someone. (And, believe it or not, google has info for the non-muckety-mucks among us.) In any case, point being, if what KC suggests is true -- that wives are often referred to by their maiden names, as in the former Ms. such-and-such -- then KC's malign possibility #2 seems rather likely.

First two grafs of Sid Blumenthal's <$NoAd$> new piece in The Guardian ...

Almost every significant aspect of the investigation to bring the London terrorists to justice is the opposite of Bush's "war on terrorism". From the leading role of Scotland Yard to the close cooperation with police, the British effort is at odds with the US operation directed by the Pentagon.

Just months before the London bombings, upon visiting the Guantánamo prison, British counter-terrorism officials were startled that they did not meet with legal authorities, but only military personnel; they were also disturbed to learn that the information they gathered from the CIA was unknown to the FBI counter-terrorism team and that the British were the only channel between them. The British discovered that the New York City Police Department's counter-terrorism unit was more synchronised with its methods and aims than the US government was.

See the rest.

Wow, he's right. Now that I look, it's there as bright as day.

Look at the still frame of Novak and Carville at the Crooks & Liars site. Mickey Kaus says there's a big reddish-brown book sitting there on the table and that it's Who's Who in America, the book Novak has sorta kinda implied was his source for the name Plame. And, yes, there it is, sitting right there on the table, or at least something that looks a lot like it. (Perhaps we can enlist a forensic videographic to enhance the image to see just what's written on the spine of the tome.)

I'm still not sure I see just what about the book would make Novak freak out. I've always thought his Who's Who in America story was a crock. But surely he looked it up to make sure she was named, right?

Late Update: Here's a photo of what the actual Who's Who looks like. Looks like a good match.

I'm still not entirely sure what to make of all the details. But here is a link to the indictments handed down today against Larry Franklin and the two AIPAC employees. See in particular the references to the unnamed US government officials (USGOs) and unnamed DOD officials. Also note the pattern of the use of the information vis-a-vis the US government.

Late Update: This JTA article seem to say that one of those two officials was recently given a senior position in the Bush administration: "A source close to the defense said that one of the U.S. officials involved, who has not been indicted, was recently appointed to a senior Bush administration post. The source, who asked not to be identified, would not name the official."

Good point. TPM Reader MB asks when Accuracy in Media et al., or whatever other group Brent Bozell uses these days, will start piping in the calls to the FCC demanding a fine for Novak. (ed.note: Yes, obviously, the FCC has no authority to levy a fine since CNN is cable TV. But can't Brent Bozell still stomp up and down and say something terrible has to happen to him?)

Late Update: Novak agrees to "take some time off" from CNN.

I must say, I'm more than a little perplexed by what sent Bob Novak over the edge on CNN today (see post below).

Watching it a few times, what Carville said just wasn't anything out of the ordinary given the sort of verbal fisticuffs Novak normally deals in. On first blush, the fact that host Ed Henry was about to ask Novak questions about the Plame case suggests that maybe he was looking for an excuse to duck out. But that doesn't really make sense either. After all, Novak's been BSing (shall we say) about the Plame case for two years now. Why stop now?

Clearly, the sort of stuff that leads a veteran reporter like Novak to flip out on camera and march off the set doesn't necessarily work by linear, logical reasoning. He did march off, after all. So something must have been eating at him. And the Plame saga (broadly speaking) must be the dominant issue in the guy's life at the moment. But I still don't think I've seen an adequate explanation or even a solid theory.

(ed.note: Got a theory? We're discussing them here.)