Josh Marshall

Josh Marshall is editor and publisher of TalkingPointsMemo.com.

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Representative Charles Taylor (R-NC), a longtime opponent of CAFTA, is down in press reports out this morning as not casting a vote on the bill last night.

But we hear that his office is telling constituents that the House clerk "botched the vote", that he actually voted "no", and that his office is now trying to resolve the issue.

Taylor's Ashville office tells me they're about to release a statement.

(ed.note: We're discussing this over in this discussion thread at TPMCafe.)

CAFTA because ya HAFTA?

Who will be the first to talk?

We all know what happened the last time the White House told the House GOP leadership that it had to pass a certain bill, despite significant resistance from GOP backbenchers. Lots of offers were made that couldn't be refused. And that was when out-going Rep. Nick Smith got hit with a mix of bribes and threats on the floor of the House itself.

I've been hearing from various sources that what the GOP leadership did in the House last night on CAFTA put that earlier episode to shame. Rep. Early Pomeroy (D) of North Dakota told the local paper: "I've seen the Republican leadership break arms on close votes before, but nothing quite this ugly."

I've been getting lots of stories in. But a lot of the details may well show up in local papers rather than the big national dailies. So collaborative research, as we did with Social Security and the DeLay Rule, is really the only way to get a handle on the story.

One interesting story is that of Rep. Robin Hayes (R-NC): to paraphrase that lame jibe from last year, Hayes voted 'No' before he voted 'Yes'. Only literally. Says Bloomberg: "In the end a 40-minute delay in the vote was broken after the Republican leadership convinced Representative Robin Hayes of North Carolina to switch his vote to yes."

If you see articles in local media that seem to give some part of the story, let us know in this discussion thread we've just we've just set up over at TPMCafe. If you were there or have other details to share, let us know that too. And if you need to remain anonymous, you can always send a note directly to TPM at the comments email at the top of the sidebar.

Out of the corner of my eye I've been watching this growing dispute over whether and which 'documents' about Judge Roberts the White House will turn over to the senate as part of his confirmation hearings. And quite apart from the particular documents in question, I'm wondering what the argument is, precisely, for the White House having access to any more information in the process of nominating Roberts than the Senate should have in confirming him.

It seems like a basic point of logic. Why should the senate's call be, by definition, less well-informed than the president's?

In national security appointments, there may be some genuine separation of powers issues at stake. For instance, when Condi Rice was promoted from National Security Advisor to Secretary of State. But as long as the information relates to Roberts personal finances, work history and so on, clearly none of those issues are involved.

I know it may seem like I'm being willfully dense or naive. But what's wrong with the standard of: If the White House got to see it, why not the senate?

A very important article in tomorrow's Times. The lede: "Senior military lawyers lodged vigorous and detailed dissents in early 2003 as an administration legal task force concluded that President Bush had authority as commander in chief to order harsh interrogations of prisoners at Guantánamo Bay, Cuba, newly disclosed documents show."

I really doubt they'd have the nerve to try. But I just posted a story over at TPMCafe about how pressure may be building to can Patrick Fitzgerald as US Attorney in Chicago, with the thumb down possibly coming from Denny Hastert. It's a complicated story, with various levels of possible political maneuvering in play.

I've mentioned a few times here that I'm not sure that Judy Miller is really in jail for things she did in her role as a journalist, at least not in the sense most of us would understand the term. Over at her blog, Arianna Huffington just posted a scenario along these lines about Miller -- one Arianna says is making rounds at the Times itself.

Not all the details are the same. But I've heard similar stuff.

Stop by and see what she says.

Wow! ThinkProgress seems to have Tom DeLay dead-to-rights on a bit of pork-barrel shenanigans even extreme by the Hammer's standards. Seems DeLay slipped over a billion dollars of privately-administered pork for oil companies in his district into the energy bill after the bill was out of conference committee.

ThinkProgress has the details.

Roberts and the <$NoAd$> recount, from the Miami Herald ...

U.S. Supreme Court nominee John Roberts played a broader behind-the-scenes role for the Republican camp in the aftermath of the 2000 election than previously reported -- as legal consultant, lawsuit editor and prep coach for arguments before the nation's highest court, according to the man who drafted him for the job.

Ted Cruz, a domestic policy advisor for President Bush and who is now Texas' solicitor general, said Roberts was one of the first names he thought of while he and another attorney drafted the Republican legal dream team of litigation ''lions'' and ''800-pound gorillas,'' which ultimately consisted of 400 attorneys in Florida.

Until now, Gov. Jeb Bush and others involved in the election dispute could recall almost nothing of Roberts' role, except for a half-hour meeting the governor had with Roberts. Cruz said Roberts was in Tallahassee helping the Bush camp for ''a week to 10 days,'' and that his help was important, though Cruz said it is difficult to remember specifics five years after the sleep-depriving frenetic pace of the 2000 recount.

Not disqualifying perhaps. But worth knowing.

Walter Pincus has a very good and very important piece in the Post tomorrow (with Jim VandeHei) on the Plame matter. It contains no explosive quotes or shocking revelations. The headline is that the Fitzgerald probe has a much broader scope than we've been led to believe. And there's a choice passage which, I believe, shows pretty clearly that Bob Novak knew just what he was doing when he printed Valerie Plame's name.

But the really succulent meat is reserved for the tail end of the article, which I'll quote at length ...

[Former CIA spokesman Bill] Harlow was also involved in the larger internal administration battle over who would be held responsible for Bush using the disputed charge about the Iraq-Niger connection as part of the war argument. Based on the questions they have been asked, people involved in the case believe that Fitzgerald looked into this bureaucratic fight because the effort to discredit Wilson was part of the larger campaign to distance Bush from the Niger controversy.

Wilson unleashed a multimedia attack on Bush's claim on July 6, 2003, appearing on NBC's "Meet the Press," in an interview in The Post and writing his own op-ed article in the New York Times, in which he accused the president of "twisting" intelligence.

Behind the scenes, the White House responded with twin attacks: one on Wilson and the other on the CIA, which it wanted to take the blame for allowing the 16 words to have remained in Bush's speech. As part of this effort, then-national security adviser Stephen J. Hadley spoke with Tenet during the week about clearing up CIA responsibility for the 16 words, even though both knew the agency did not believe Iraq was seeking uranium from Niger, according to a person familiar with the conversation. Tenet was interviewed by prosecutors in the leak case, but it is not clear whether he appeared before the grand jury, a former CIA official said.

On July 9, Tenet and top aides began to draft a statement over two days that ultimately said it was "a mistake" for the CIA to have permitted the 16 words about uranium to remain in Bush's speech. He said the information "did not rise to the level of certainty which should be required for presidential speeches, and the CIA should have ensured that it was removed."

A former senior CIA official said yesterday that Tenet's statement was drafted within the agency and was shown only to Hadley on July 10 to get White House input. Only a few minor changes were accepted before it was released on July 11, this former official said. He took issue with a New York Times report last week that said Rove and Vice President Cheney's chief of staff, I. Lewis "Scooter" Libby, had a role in Tenet's statement.

Here we have some of the cobweb of lies, large and small, brushed back, ones the falsity of which has remained somehow unspeakable in high political debate despite all their transparency.

As Pincus and Jim VandeHei rightly say, twin attacks -- one aimed at Wilson for blowing the whistle, the other at the CIA, an elaborate fraud perpetrated upon the American people (and perpetuated through last year's SSCI report) in which the CIA, which had repeatedly tried to prevent the president from publicizing and validating the bogus Niger uranium claims, was forced to take the blame for not warning the president of their falsity. (As this ball of yarn unravels, remember the name Alan Foley.)

And all of this, of course, meant to cover up the big lie -- the administration's knowing use of bogus WMD reports to convince the country to go to war.

As Frank Rich put it so aptly less than two weeks ago, "the administration knows how guilty it is. That's why it has so quickly trashed any insider who contradicts its story line about how we got to Iraq, starting with the former Treasury secretary Paul O'Neill and the former counterterrorism czar Richard Clarke."