Josh Marshall

Josh Marshall is editor and publisher of TalkingPointsMemo.com.

Articles by Josh

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From Newsweek ...

One Bush administration official said that in addition to harboring suspicions that Chalabi had been leaking sensitive U.S. information to Iran both before and after the U.S. invasion of Iraq, some U.S. officials also believe that Chalabi had collected and maintained files of potentially damaging information on U.S. officials with whom he had or was going to interact for the purpose of influencing them. Some officials said that when Iraqi authorities raided Chalabi’s offices, one of the things American officials hoped they would look for was Chalabi’s cache of information he had gathered on Americans.

Could get ugly.

More on the president's lawyering up in the Plame case.

The lawyer in question is identified as Jim Sharp. I assume that's James E. Sharp, a Washington attorney who also represented Iran-Contra luminary Richard V. Secord.

That may prove convenient since the case will quite possibly involve some of the players from the old days.

And here is the next logical question.

From everything we know about this case, the probable connections would far more likely be to the vice-president rather than the president. So someone should ask whether Vice President Cheney has lawyered up too.

A snippet from today's Nelson <$NoAd$>Report ...

4. If it's possible to imagine anything more damaging to DOD [than the Iran/Chalabi revelations], and perhaps also to White House staff, it is the CIA's conclusion that some information Chalabi turned over to Iran was available to only "a handful" of senior U.S. officials. That would be Rumsfeld, Wolfowitz, Feith, Cheney, and Cheney's consigleiri, Scooter Libby, our sources helpfully explain.

-- perhaps not entirely by coincidence, the Vice President's office is already on extra orders of TUMS, as it awaits the promised Grand Jury indictments of those responsible for leaking the name of a secret CIA officer to newspaper columnist Bob Novak, allegedly to "punish" the agent's husband, Amb. Joe Wilson, for revealing that President Bush used faulty intelligence about Iraq and Niger in the State of the Union Address two years ago. From our own days as a police and court reporter, we can tell you that Grand Juries often grind exceeding slow, but that if they report, not much gets left out.

More soon.

Convicted of embezzlement over the Petra Bank collapse? A politically-motivated attack by pro-Saddam forces in Jordan. Questioned over what happened to US taxpayer funds provided to the INC? A bureaucratic hit-job by wimpy Foggy-Bottomites. Accused of leaking classified intelligence to the Iranians? A political smear by Paul Bremer and George Tenet.

All the baseless accusations.

Some folks just can't catch a break ...

If this new piece in the Times has the Chalabi story right, someone -- and probably someone at the Pentagon -- is in a world of trouble. Actually, there's some other trouble coming down the pike in a few weeks. But then, sufficient to the day is the trouble thereof. So, to Chalabi. Here's the key passage ...

The F.B.I. has opened an espionage investigation seeking to determine exactly what information Mr. Chalabi turned over to the Iranians as well as who told Mr. Chalabi that the Iranian code had been broken, government officials said. The inquiry, still in an early phase, is focused on a very small number of people who were close to Mr. Chalabi and also had access to the highly restricted information about the Iran code.

Some of the people the F.B.I. expects to interview are civilians at the Pentagon who were among Mr. Chalabi's strongest supporters and served as his main point of contact with the government, the officials said. So far, no one has been accused of any wrongdoing.

Hmmm. People who were close to Chalabi and had access to the highly restricted information about the Iran code. Hmmm. Who would be caught in the sweet spot of that <$Ad$>Venn Diagram?

I'll try not to be too coy. There are a number of folks who could fit that bill. But for anyone who's followed this story, there's one guy who's just got to jump right to the top of the list: an expert on Iran who is extremely close to Chalabi, served as his civilian Pentagon handler for some time in Iraq after the war, and is known for comparing Chalabi to Mohammed and other equally august worthies.

Anyway, that's one pretty good possibility.

I could speculate about who else would have known this key piece of information. But the truth is that I just don't know how such information would be compartmented. So it's impossible for me to say. You'd figure that the folks at OSD involved in B-teaming the regular intelligence community's Middle East analyses would have learned this information. And many of them are close to Chalabi. But again, that's speculation.

The Chalabi virus was very widespread at the highest levels of this administration. So I'd say it's possible, though not likely, that the culprit or culprits could be very high-level administration figures, particularly if they turn out to hang their hats in the White House complex rather than at the Pentagon.

One point that is key to keep in mind here is that if you know the way a lot of these guys treated Chalabi, how they thought of him, it's really not at all surprising that they would have shared this sort of information with him. It would, frankly, be much more surprising if they hadn't. Remember, this was Ahmed Chalabi, the 'leader of Free Iraq', the man of destiny around whom the democratic transformation of the region would turn like a wheel on an axle.

Just before 1 AM EDT, the Herseth/Diedrich race is truly down to the wire. Fewer than 40 precincts left to report out of 798; Herseth's lead down to just over 2000 votes (out of about a quarter million), and falling, rapidly. The only bright spot I see is that a quick look at those few remaining precincts seems to show that at least half are in heavily Democratic areas.

As of 12:30 on the east coast, Herseth is ahead in the South Dakota special election. But it's awfully close: 51%-49% with about 10% of the precincts left to report.

With the margin that close, someone who has a good feel for the state could probably predict the winner based on which precincts are yet to report.

Here's the running tally from the Secretary of State's office.

Now that some of the dust has settled, we can see one thing pretty clearly: the IGC basically hijacked the process. The IGC essentially reconstituted as a caretaker government. The new President, Sheikh Ghazi al-Yawar, was the current president of the IGC. Hoshiyar Zebari, who was the foreign minister in the IGC, is now the foreign minister under the interim government. Allawi was a member of and choice of the IGC, etc. And so on down the list. The only key issue is that Chalabi, if not his crew, has been purged. Brahimi agreed to a laying on of hands. But he didn't make the choices. He was sidelined.