Josh Marshall

Josh Marshall is editor and publisher of TalkingPointsMemo.com.

Articles by Josh

Knight-Ridder ...

Supreme Court nominee Harriet Miers collected more than 10 times the market value for a small slice of family-owned land in a large Superfund pollution cleanup site in Dallas where the state wanted to build a highway off-ramp.

The windfall came after a judge who received thousands of dollars in campaign contributions from Miers' law firm appointed a close professional associate of Miers and an outspoken property-rights activist to the three-person panel that determined how much the state should pay.


There is a flood of articles appearing now on the conclusion of the Fitzgerald investigation and the accompanying guessing game about just how it will end. But with so much at stake right now and so many of the leaks with very immediate tactical significance, reading these articles can become less a matter of the taste of the dish than trying to figure the ingredients and recipe behind it.

Like this article on Scooter Libby in Friday's Los Angeles Times.

According to the article, Libby was something only slightly less than obsessed with Joe Wilson. Not only was he part of the original operation to push back against Wilson and discredit him. As the article describes it, long after the Plame matter had evolved into a full-fledged criminal probe by an outside investigator, Libby continued compiling detailed records of Wilson's public statements. He marked up a copy of Wilson's book highlighting what he regarded as false or anti-Cheney passages. And even though he was already at the center of an investigation he continued to recommend mounting new anti-Wilson press operations well into 2004.

That possibility only ended in April 2004, says the article, when Dan Bartlett ordered White House staff to stop engaging Wilson, figuring that more White House attacks on Wilson would only bring more press focus to his charges.

Now, I don't doubt that there's a good deal of truth in this story. Indeed, the point in what I'm about to say is not to cast doubt on the accuracy of anything in it. But if you read the LAT story closely you see that the authors were able to interview multiple White House staffers (seemingly all or most former ones) and were apparently provided with a sheaf of documents illustrating Libby's near-obsessive Wilson-monitoring.

If I read the article right it seems they were provided with a copy of this dossier ...

The result was a packet that included excerpts from press clips and television transcripts of Wilson's statements that were divided into categories, such as "political ties" or "WMD."

The compendium used boldfaced type to call attention to certain comments by Wilson, such as one in the Daily Iowan, the University of Iowa student newspaper, in which Wilson was quoted as calling Cheney "a lying son of a bitch." It also highlighted Wilson's answers to questions from television journalists about his work with Sen. John F. Kerry, the Democratic presidential nominee.

The intensity with which Libby reacted to Wilson had many senior White House staffers puzzled, and few agreed with his counterattack plan or its rationale, former aides said.

So, a lot of access to former White House staffers in on key meetings and actual documentary evidence of what Scooter was up to, what his efforts produced. That sort of access ain't easy to come by and it's seldom accidental.

This certainly seems like an attempt to pin this whole thing on Libby.

Leaks like that won't affect Fitzgerald; they're not intended to. They're aimed at shaping perceptions of indictments if they come down. If Libby and Rove are indicted, then, yes Rove got caught up in it. And it shouldn't have happened. But the whole unfortunate mess was spawned by the bitter Libby-Wilson antagonsim. It wasn't something that involved the whole White House team, not something characteristic of how it functions.

That would be the argument.

And it's one everyone should have their eyes out for, since the key players in the White House appear to have decided that Libby is already a fatality in this battle.

Before leaving you, one other point to consider. Note Bartlett's alleged instructions to back off from Wilson in April 2004. Keep that in mind when considering possible coordination between the White House and the majority staff on the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence while it was finishing up the Iraq WMD report in the summer of 2004. We'll return to that subject later.

Earlier today, World Net Daily reported what it called a big development in the Miers story. That development involved a guy named Larry Littwin, a fellow who's been under a gag order and prevented from talking about his role in a scandal that took place on Harriet Miers' watch at the Texas State Lottery Commission.

Littwin wanted to investigate GTECH. And for that Miers allegedly fired him. For more detail on what this scandal was all about see this piece by James Ridgeway in the Village Voice.

According to WND, the Senate Judiciary Committee successfully pressured GTECH, the Rhode Island company which ran the state lottery.

The sourcing on the original story seem a little opaque to me. So I spoke to sources up on the Hill who confirmed that this is in fact true, that GTECH has agreed to allow Littwin to testify.

More on this soon.

Late Update: The original story at WND was written by Jerome Corsi, co-author of last year's notorious Swift Boat book, Unfit for Command. Like I said, I wanted to verify myself.

Yesterday I told you how the jackals at Sinclair Broadcasting (they of last year's attempted hour-long Swift Boat informercial) have now resorted to suing Jon Lieberman, Sinclair's former DC Bureau Chief whom they fired after he accused them of pushing "biased political propaganda, with clear intentions to sway this election."

The suit is a part of a year-long campaign of dingbat harassment of Lieberman by Sinclair, including attempts to deny him unemployment benefits and a failed attempt to block him from receiving a journalism award.

Yesterday's post sparked a flood of emails asking how readers can support Lieberman, whether he has a legal defense fund taking contributions and other related questions.

The simple answer is, I have no idea. I should also note that I'm not in touch with Lieberman. And I neither want to nor am I in a position to raise money on his behalf.

The last I've heard on this comes from an article in the Baltimore Sun. Reports the Sun: "The lawsuit says Leiberman, now a producer at America's Most Wanted, owes Sinclair almost $17,000 in so-called liquidated damages, equal to a percentage of his salary had he served out his contract." When they contacted Lieberman he hadn't yet been served with the suit and said he'd only heard about in news reports.

"I just want to get on with my life," Lieberman told the Sun.

Should we hear of any organized effort to assist Lieberman, we will of course pass on the information.

I never know what to make of these things. But this morning I got yet another press release from intrade, a company that runs a futures markets on hot political questions, and others, I'm sure, too ...

Miers confirmation contract drops in heavy morning trading

At approximately 8:30 EST this morning traders monitoring the Harriet Miers confirmation process becan selling aggressively contracts betting against her confirmation - probability drops from 62 to 20 in heavy trading.

"The Miers confirmation contract was trading at 92, meaning a 92% probability of confirmation last week. Early this week the contract slid to 64 then this morning with no warning droped to 20 in heavy trading", says Mike Knesevitch Communication Director at Intrade.

Here's the latest quote.

Target letters, from the NYT: "Mr. Rove and Mr. Libby have been advised that they may be in serious legal jeopardy, the lawyers said, but only this week has Mr. Fitzgerald begun to narrow the possible charges. The prosecutor has said he will not make up his mind about any charges until next week, government officials say."

Murray Waas in National Journal: "New York Times reporter Judith Miller told the federal grand jury in the CIA leak case that she might have met with I. Lewis (Scooter) Libby on June 23, 2003 only after prosecutors showed her Secret Service logs that indicated she and Libby had indeed met that day in the Executive Office Building adjacent to the White House, according to attorneys familiar with her testimony."

Rep. George Miller (D-CA) seems to have found a way to force a floor vote in the House of Representatives on whether or not to overturn the President Bush's Gulf Coast Wage Cut. They've got fifteen days to bring it to a vote. And if it comes to a vote, a clear majority of the House is for overturning what the president did. Rep. Miller explains more details here.

For shame.

Remember way back when (okay, only a year ago), Sinclair Broadcasting decided to run an anti-Kerry Swift Boat infomercial on its stations across the country. A popular outcry and a lot of truly spontaneous grassroots activism made them pull back, at least part of the way. But a big rock rolled into the road for them when their DC Bureau Chief, one Jonathan Lieberman took a stand, gave an interview to the Balitmore Sun, and called the effort "biased political propaganda, with clear intentions to sway this election ... For me, it's not about right or left -- it's about what's right or wrong in news coverage this close to an election."

The headline of our post, a year ago almost to the day, ran "Soon to join the jobless?" I make no claim for prescience when I tell you he was immediately fired.

Sinclair has continued to harass Lieberman ever since. And now comes word the sharks at Sinclair are suing Lieberman for giving the unauthorized interview. "Sinclair," this article reports, "is also asking the court to order an accounting of the wages Leiberman earned working for another news outlet after Sinclair fired him."

Now this is a while back, a time a lot of folks would like to forget. And most everybody's moved on. But clearly Lieberman is still stuck with the consequences of doing the right thing when it counted. By the letter of the law and the contract, Sinclair may have a case. But this guy's deserves everyone's support.