Josh Marshall

Josh Marshall is editor and publisher of TalkingPointsMemo.com.

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Steve Clemons is doing a nice run-down this evening of the various crimes, bad acts and generic villainies of Ahmad Chalabi, who's coming to DC tomorrow to hang with friends at the American Enterprise Institute and hobnob with high-ranking administration officials. Steve even has a few choice morsels that many Chalabi-watchers don't know about -- like the strong belief at the CIA that he tipped off Saddam about a CIA-backed coup because they refused to cut him in on the action.

In any case, I'm enjoying life up here in the Big Apple -- almost exactly a year now. But tomorrow's a day I'll regret that I don't still live in the nation's capital. Because I'd like to be on hand, or at least nearby, when Chalabi heads back to what is, at least the metaphorically, the scene of the crime.

Actually, a few days ago I suggested to Steve that one way to dramatize what this man has been responsible for would be to have some folks on hand to attempt a citizen's arrest of Ahmad Chalabi. Nothing by force, mind you. All non-violent. Just walk up to the man, put a hand on the shoulder, announce that they're taking him into custody in a citizen's arrest and offer to escort him to the Justice Department building for questioning. If some of his goons or the AEI rent-a-cops man-handle these patriots, then at least the point is made.

Steve appears to have looked into this now though and found that the DC Citizen's Arrest law requires that the arrestor see the bad-actor in the actual commission of a felony. Perhaps someone can consult an attorney to see what the possibilities are. On the other hand, perhaps some of those high-ranking administration officials Chalabi's going to meet with can effect an arrest since they've probably witnessed some of his bad acts.

In any case, if you're there on the scene to protest tomorrow -- at 2 PM at 1150 17th St NW -- send us in reports, send us in pictures. We'll post the good stuff so TPM Readers around the country can see ordinary Americans protesting against this shark and his friends who've brought him back into American waters.

President Bush swung into Richmond last night to push his guy Jerry Kilgore past the finish line in Virginia. But tonight Kilgore came up short. Tim Kaine is the next governor of the state. And as Ed Kilgore (no relation) explains here, the scope of Kaine's win is actually more impressive than the top-line number would indicate.

The accepted verdict on what a given election 'means' most often boils away too much of the complexity and causes behind what happened. But this was a bad night for President Bush. The Kilgore goof is an emblematic example. But you can see it in other races too. President Bush wasn't that popular in November 2002. But he delivered for his party. He was a fairly unpopular incumbent running for reelection in 2004. But he won.

Few will admit it publicly. But I think a lot of Republicans will look at what happened tonight and see that something has changed. President Bush was a liability, even for a Republican in a tomato red state like Virginia. They won't say it. But watch what they do. Actions speak louder than words.

TPM Reader MO from the great state of Minnesota checks in ...

The mayor's race here is another indication of the feeling about Bush.

A Democratic challenger is looking to unseat a Democratic incumbent -- looks like it's going to be close to 70 % to 30%. the difference between them? hardly matters, except that the soon-to-be crushed incumbent endorsed Bush for President last year.

We St Paul Democrats don't take kindly to that sort of thing in our mayors. So we fixed it.

Is that an 'L' on the president's forehead?

Now, as you've probably heard, Speaker Hastert and Sen. Frist have called for an investigation into the Washington Post story which revealed the existence of secret interrogation (torture) facilities the United States is running in Eastern Europe.

No doubt, this will spawn a wave of complaints that this is the logical result of the investigation of the White House's effort to betray a serving covert CIA operative as a way of attacking her whistle-blowing husband.

We're all supposed to go chasing our tails now, agonizing over how to distinguish between these two cases.

But actually, let's not.

It was wise of Pat Fitzgerald not to seek indictments for the mere disclosure of classified information, both on the basis of prudence and also the questionable interpretation of the law that defines such disclosures as illegal.

The most obvious way to distinguish these two cases is to observe that Congress, in its wisdom, chose to make this particular sort of disclosure a felony, different in kind rather than degree from all others.

The prosecutor apparently did not believe or does not yet believe that he has enough evidence to prosecute anyone under that law. Instead, he indicted Libby for repeatedly, and it seems unambiguously, lying to investigators and seeking to obstruct the investigation in an effort to shield the vice president, who was certainly party to the effort.

Setting aside the legal particulars, we can observe the difference between betraying the identity of own of the country's own spies as a tool of government policy and revealing information about government policy to the press.

A disntinction with no grey areas? No. But life is built on distinctions reasonable people are forced to make every day.

What we have here is an administration under the sway of men with lawless and authoritarian tendencies. Betraying one of the country's own spies to cover up revelations about dishonest actions in leading the country to war, attempts to squelch the press to hide government policy of supporting torture. These actions are all cut from the same cloth: cover-ups and secrecy to hide lies and dishonorable acts, all backed by force and disregard for the law.

Now it seems Sen. Lott is telling reporters he thinks the leaks came from Republicans, which is at least one more sign that there are a growing number of Republicans more interested in their country's honor than in the Cheney gang's governance by violence and lies.

Let them investigate Republicans, Democrats; let them take it before judges. Whatever. Lies beget coverups which beget more law breaking into a spiralling cycle. The executive is in corrupt hands. Nothing will change till that does.

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?