Josh Marshall

Josh Marshall is editor and publisher of TalkingPointsMemo.com.

Articles by Josh

Arianna Huffington has a new post up at her site about Judy Miller, this time taking aim at Times uber-boss Arthur Sulzberger. And she gets into a thicket of issues I've been giving a lot of thought to as the Judy saga has unfolded.

I'm far from knowledgable about the inner workings of the Times, as many of my colleagues seem to be. But you don't have to be to know that the new editorial regime at the paper stakes much of its legitimacy on the failings of the old one, and that treatment of Iraq is perhaps the key narrative thread connecting the two.

Allegedly, what brought down the Raines regime at the Times was not simply that he and the paper on his watch had been taken in by a serial fabricator, Jayson Blair. It was that he and his team had missed, ignored or made excuses for other warnings signs about Blair. And this was taken, perhaps not unreasonably, as evidence of a deeper pattern of poor editorial judgment, with political and cultural implications we all remember.

Now, let's assume, for the sake of discussion (but as I and many others believe), that Judy Miller is sitting in that prison cell for much more than the actions one might reasonably call those of a journalist. Assume that she has dirty hands in this whole affair and that the Times has quite publicly and effusively fastened its credibility to hers.

If this all proves to be the case, how will this be any different for Keller and Sulzberger than the Blair matter was for Raines?

After all, going back two years now, the Times has quite publicly and painfully failed to take any account of or responsibility for Miller's compromised reporting. And the backstory many of us suspect to her present confinement (though it is important to say that they remain suspicions and are not proved) was richly telegraphed or foreshadowed in that earlier reporting.

So if this all comes to pass, what will the upshot be for Keller? Isn't it the same? Actually, isn't it a lot worse when you consider that the real-world consequences of Blair's lies were limited at best. Journalistically they were capital offenses. But the stories he made up, from my recollection at least, were mainly human interest type stories (with the exception of some reporting about the DC sniper), which might well have been true, but weren't. The consequences of Miller's deeds are legion; and just as ignored.

Paul Begala has a post up at TPMCafe about the right's bashing of Cindy Sheehan, and particularly, the almost total lack of attention to the antics of this nutball or as he terms it this "right-wing thug [who] ran his pickup truck over hundreds of crosses bearing the names of heroic Americans killed in Iraq [and] took out scores of American flags in the process."

Take a look.

I guess the feds think they've got a pretty good case against our man Duke Cunningham. The San Diego Union-Tribune has just reported this morning that they've filed a suit to force Duke to hand over the mansion in Rancho Santa Fe because it was bought with illegally obtained money.

The Post, meanwhile, has some more detail on what we suspected about the relationship between Duke, Brent Wilkes and Mitchell Wade. Says the Post: "Wade is a former consultant to ADCS who met Cunningham through his work for the San Diego company..."

And there was an earlier IG investigation into Wilkes, a Bush Pioneer, and Duke, reports the Post ...

The Pentagon's inspector general previously investigated several ADCS contracts because of complaints "alleging favoritism and inappropriate actions," and he concluded in 1999 that they were awarded as the result of irregular procedures. Louis A. Kratz, an assistant deputy undersecretary of defense, said in a recent interview that he had requested the IG probe. Both Cunningham and Wilkes had called him seeking the release of funds for ADCS, he said.

Kratz said he had never before experienced anything close to their "meddling" and "arrogance." Wilkes "implied that it was his money," Kratz said, though the funding was earmarked for a program, not a company. The document conversion program was later killed, Kratz said.

"I can't address the specifics of this report," said K. Lee Blalack II, Cunningham's attorney, "but there is nothing inappropriate nor unusual about a member of Congress calling the Pentagon on behalf of a constituent regarding the use of appropriated funds."

And a note for anyone covering this story. Chalmers Johnson has been hip to Duke's games for years, though I doubt he knew the sheer audaciousness and criminality of the man's corruption. Look up Duke's name in Sorrows of Empire or get in touch with Johnson for more of the big picture.

(ed.note: I haven't been in touch with Johnson since the Duke story broke, though I've interviewed him once or twice for different stories in the past. My recollection is from the above-noted book or perhaps from his earlier book, Blowback.)

Got an unconfirmed report that Ohio Gov. Bob Taft will be charged today with 4 misdemeanors. More soon.

Late Update: Confirmed.

For those of you who need a refresher on Duke Cunningham's various acts of public corruption, you can check out this graphical version of the CunningScam, TPM Reader WC's entry into the Duke Cunningham Shenanigan Program & Worksheet contest.

It needs to be updated to cover Duke's new ADCS, Inc. pay-for-play operation. And I wish the graphics were separated out a bit more (actually, I just realized this problem is more a matter of my fonts being set small). But it gives a good run-down of how Duke's various houses, boats, pay-offs, sweatheart loans, and insider defense contracts fit together.

Has Duke's CunningScam been an open secret for a long, long time?

TPM Reader JS pointed my attention to this clip in The Hotline from late 1997 about Duke's string pulling for Brent Wilkes' ADCS, the company the Feds raided yesterday afternoon ...

Copley's Wilkie reports, the "affable" Rep. Randy "Duke" Cunningham (R) "effuses" about a San Diego software company, ADCS, "that recently won a lucrative" DoD contract to "convert paper records to electronic files. ... But to others involved in the same project, (his) enthusiasm went beyond cost-saving zeal and regional promotion." Critics say he helped direct $3.2M worth of DoD business to ADCS which is run by campaign contributor Brent Wilkes, who gave Cunningham $2K in '96 and whose business partner, Randall Kerley, gave him $500. "How directly and passionately did (Cunningham) pressure the Pentagon on behalf" of ADCS? He "says he merely talked up" ADCS because it had the best software, "despite Pentagon assessments that others had superior products." But "others, however, say" Cunningham "pressed" DoD officials "to go with Wilkes' company, using as a stick his strong ties with military brass and his powerful position" on the House Nat'l Securtiy Cmte in '96. Pentagon officials are mum on the issue. "For his part, Cunningham says that anyone, including a reporter, who dares paint his actions as anything but aboveboard "can go to hell" and he has said that he told DoD to go with the best company. Wilkie concludes: "Regardless of who had the better product, the issue may be whether (he) should have used his Pentagon ties to promote any company run by a campaign contributor" (12/12).

And how much <$NoAd$> second-rate product is the Pentagon using today because of Duke Cunningham?

And why isn't there more of an outcry that this guy is still serving in Congress?