Josh Marshall

Josh Marshall is editor and publisher of TalkingPointsMemo.com.

Articles by Josh

As those of you who are TPMCafe regulars already know, we're hosting a forum this week at TPMCafe Book Club on former Clinton National Economic Advisor Gene Sperling's new book, The Pro-Growth Progressive.

More broadly we've set this Book Club up as an exchange on Democratic economic and trade policy.

Which direction for Democrats? Particularly as we move toward the 2006 and later the 2008 election cycles. A neo-Clintonite economic policy or a more populist approach with greater skepticism about the generation-long move toward global trade liberalization.

We've put together a group that, I think, captures the range of opinions and viewpoints now on offer -- Sperling, Alan Blinder, Bob Borosage, Jason Furman, Jamie Galbraith and David Sirota. TPM regulars like Matt Yglesias, Ed Kilgore and others will probably be chiming in too.

So stop by, let us know what you think, and join the discussion. The sparks are already flying and we expect more.

Someone was willing to say it: Chalabi deserves a subpoena, not photo-ops with administration bigwigs. See Rep. Miller's (D-CA) speech on the floor of the House just yesterday.

Stop the presses! Sen. Rockefeller raises the possibility that investigation investigators might need to investigate!

Here's a Walter Pincus article from tomorrow's Post which describes a basic disagreement shaping up between how Sen. Rockefeller (D-WV), the ranking member on the senate intel committee, and Chairman Roberts (R-KS) want to pursue "phase two" of the investigation into the Iraq WMD debacle. "Phase two", remember, is the part of the investigation where they'll look at how the administration used or misused intelligence.

Roberts' approach is to take the administration statements and line them up against intelligence reports. If they match up, no problem. As Pincus writes ...

Under last year's agreement [which Roberts wants to follow], it was unclear whether the committee would consider whether there were contradictory or competing intelligence reports circulating at the time public statements were made that could call them into question, or whether the panel would simply check to see whether each statement could be backed up by at least one piece of intelligence.

For example, in a Sept. 8, 2002, appearance on CNN, Condoleezza Rice said Iraq was receiving "high-quality aluminum tubes that are only really suited for nuclear weapons programs, centrifuge programs." At the time, there were serious disagreements within the intelligence community over whether those tubes were meant for centrifuges -- which can be used to extract weapons-grade uranium -- or whether they were meant for anti-aircraft rockets, which proved to be the case. If it could be shown that there was at least one intelligence report that substantiated Rice's statement, that might be enough to justify her statement under terms of the panel's earlier agreement.

Rockefeller has a different approach ...

Under Rockefeller's desired approach, Rice could be interviewed to ask her what intelligence she based her statements on, and whether she was aware of the contrary views.

If you're going to investigate how policy-makers used intelligence, can there be any serious pretense that you're conducting a serious investigation if interviewing the policy-makers themselves is off-limits?

And another question. If what Roberts wants is really closer to last year's agreement than what Rockefeller is now pushing for, what was Rockefeller thinking last year when he agreed to it?

It seems the president's defenders have fallen back on what has always been their argument of last resort -- cherry-picked quotes from Clinton administration officials arranged to give the misleading impression that the Clintonites said and thought the same thing about Iraqi weapons of mass destruction as the Bushies did.

Not true.

But even arguing on this ground understates the full measure of administration mendacity in the lead up to the war since it ignores half the story. WMD was only half the administration equation for war. The other half was Iraq's alleged ties to Islamist terrorist groups like al Qaida and including al Qaida. On top of that, of course, was the big enchilada, the Cheney favorite, those frequent and intentionally ambiguous suggestions that Saddam Hussein played a role in the 9/11 attacks.

The administration has always been able to fall back upon the fact that as much as they hyped and exaggerated the evidence of Iraqi WMD, the folks in the intelligence community made plenty of mistakes on their own.

But the claims about Iraqi ties to al Qaida were always USDA-approved Grade-A crap.

That's where the most blatant political pressure on analysts happened. And that's where Doug Feith's operation at the Pentagon and its pipeline to Vice President Cheney's Office played their most nefarious role "stovepiping" nonsense about a grand Osama-Saddam axis.

Yet, that story has not gotten much of any scrutiny or investigation.

Whether it was lies or just reckless disregard for the truth. They should be held accountable.

A weird and very disturbing story.

The Hill reports that Emilia DiSanto, chief investigator for Finance Committee Chairman, Sen. Chuck Grassley, was accosted outside her home last Wednesday evening and beaten repeatedly with a baseball bat. The article says she was later "treated for significant upper-body injuries [and] nine staples were needed to close her head wound."

Investigators seem to believe that the attack was related to her work on the hill.

On Tom DeLay's latest lawyering to get off the conspiracy charges on a technicality or preserve his right to trial by a jury of fellow conservatives (noted here), TPM Reader CM chimes in as follows ...

Ronnie Earle should simply ask the judge, "If Travis County is too liberal for DeLay to get a fair trial, then why is it that 2 of 3 U.S. Representatives representing Travis County are Republicans? Why are both state school board members representing Travis County Republicans? If you lump in State Senators and State Reps, too, you get a total of 7 Republicans and 6 Democrats." I'd say it looks more than fair to Republicans.

Hoist him on his own petard, perhaps...

Good point.

Paying the piper?

Tom DeLay's lawyers are now arguing that for their client to get a fair trial there needs to be a change of venue, particularly somewhere other than "liberal" Travis County, home of the state capital and in the jurisdiction of DA Ronnie Earle.

Given all the other malarkey DeLay is floating about the criminal justice system being rigged against conservatives, I guess we shouldn't be surprised.

But look at the specific issue they seem to be pushing.

This from the AP ...

Defense attorneys argue that DeLay has been vilified in liberal Travis County, which was split into three different congressional districts as a result of a redistricting map DeLay engineered.

The structure of the sentence is a tad ambiguous. But I think they're saying that DeLay can't get a fair trial in that county because the residents of the county are so upset with him for disenfranchising them with his corrupt redistricting plan.

Imagine that.

More slow-lane investigations?

This from the Wall Street Journal ...

As Iraqi Deputy Prime Minister Ahmad Chalabi arrives this week in Washington for talks, there is little sign of progress in a federal investigation of allegations that he once leaked U.S. intelligence secrets to Iran.

More than 17 months after then-National Security Adviser Condoleezza Rice publicly promised a full criminal inquiry, the Federal Bureau of Investigation hasn't interviewed Mr. Chalabi himself or many current and former U.S. government officials thought likely to have information related to the matter, according to lawyers for several of these individuals and others close to the case. The investigation of Mr. Chalabi, who had been a confidant of senior Defense Department officials before the war in Iraq, remains in the hands of the FBI, with little active interest from local federal prosecutors or the Justice Department, these people said. There also has been no grand-jury involvement in the case.

It's been suggested that the accusations that Chalabi leaked US secrets to the Iranians were no more than a bureaucratic power-play against him by his opponents in the US government. The fact that he and his supporters have used this excuse to explain various other bad acts of which he was certainly guilty does not inspire a lot of confidence. But on this issue of his ties with Iran I don't know much more than what I read in the papers. So anything is possible.

But even that wouldn't seem a good reason to have yet another phantom FBI investigation in which no attempt has been made to speak to principals in the case.