Josh Marshall

Josh Marshall is editor and publisher of TalkingPointsMemo.com.

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Okay, this is a bit funny -- at least if you're me. Below I posted a link to this company called ADCS. That's Cunningham co-conspirator #1 Brent Wilkes' company.

As we noted below, ADCS's headquarters is for sale. And I have the feeling Wilkes himself may soon to be announcing that he's retiring in order to be able to spend more time in prison.

Now, if you look at the ADCS website, you'll see it's quite snazzy and nicely designed. Only, where are the links? If memory serves when I first looked at this site last summer it was, well ... a normal website, a front end to various info about the company. But as nearly as I can tell there are no links to anything. The whole site is one big 'no comment'.

Seems like Brent Wilkes' (aka Co-conspirator #1) company ADCS, Inc. invested too heavily in Duke Cunningham. Now that Duke's been de-listed, ADCS is on the rocks. According to the local paper, the North County Times, company headquarters -- built in 2003 for $12 million -- is up on the auction block.

If only he'd been the first co-conspirator to cut a deal ...

Another comment on the Duke Cunningham investigation.

I mentioned recently that this story likely led into the Department of Defense. So let me say a bit more about that.

In recent days we've being seeing a lot of stories about various top-secret or 'black' programs being run out of the Pentagon. The reports about fake stories being planted in the Iraqi press are just a single example. I'm told that this matter of top secret Pentagon spending -- stuff free of almost all oversight -- may connect up with the Duke investigation and may reach up higher than we might imagine in the Pentagon.

Not in obvious ways, mind you. I'm not saying higher-ups were on the take. But I've seen hints and evidence from various directions that there may have been some active ignoring of these various scams that Duke and his pals were up to in exchange for help on these other fronts.

After I saw this Sacramento Bee article about Rep. Doolittle (R-CA) and his increasing entanglement in the Abramoff investigation, I went back to our trove of unpublished Team Abramoff emails to see how often Doolittle showed up on the skybox freebie gravy train.

His office did show up, but actually not that often -- certainly not as often as I would have expected, given how tight he apparently was with the Abramoff clique.

Perhaps there was a leadership office or committee he was associated with back in 2000 and that obscures him in the references. But I doubt it. And he's nowhere close to fellow Rep. Richard Pombo (R-CA) as an Abramoff freebie-meister, for instance.

But what really surprised me was this. As I looked through the emails last night, a name that came up again and again was a staffer in the office of Sen. Lincoln Chafee (R) of Rhode Island. That's odd since Abramoff tended to buy into members of the House rather than the Senate, though not exclusively. And Chafee just doesn't strike me as a very choice target for Jack.

Who knew?

As some of you know, our old pal Jim Tobin is set to go on trial for the New Hampshire phone-jamming scam next Tuesday in Concord. And we hear that in a rather uncomfortable development for the GOP, the state's witness list includes the name Terry Nelson. If you don't remember that name, refer back to the DeLay case in Texas.

Arch-phase-out-man Santorum trying to run on record of preserving Social Security? Next to campaign as senate's prime champion of free love?

Ahhh, the seamless global web of mumbojumbo.

As we know now from the LATimes and the NYTimes, the Pentagon is paying an outfit called the Lincoln Group to plant phony stories in the Iraqi press about just how well things are going in Iraq.

Actually, maybe that's a sign of progress since that's how we seem to be running this place too.

In any case, one graf from today's NYT piece is too choice not to reprint ...

Even as the State Department and the United States Agency for International Development pay contractors millions of dollars to help train journalists and promote a professional and independent Iraqi media, the Pentagon is paying millions more to the Lincoln Group for work that appears to violate fundamental principles of Western journalism.

I guess if I had a goatee and a black turtle neck I'd call this the internal contradictions of Bush bamboozlement. And perhaps I should.

But while the DOD is hiring the Lincoln Group, the Lincoln is subcontracting the work to BKSH, the PR firm run by Republican uber-operative and spinmeister Charlie Black.

Actually, if you're looking for phony stories about how well things are going in Iraq, I guess a Republican talking head like Charlie Black might be a pretty good bet. So this might be an example of shrewd government contracting.

And if you wonder what Charlie Black knows about bamboozling Iraqis, don't worry because he must have picked something up when he was working for Ahmed Chalabi before the war.

(ed.note: thanks to TPM Reader LR.)

Reader comment ...

You've sort of hinted at this, but what's truly amazing about the attempts to paint this corruption as equally applicable to both parties is this: The essence of the K Street strategy pioneered by DeLay and Norquist and run today by Blount and Santorum is to deny Democratic politicians the chance to be dealmakers and players on the Hill - or to put it another way, to deny them access to the sort of "honest graft," policy horsetrading, and borderline bribery that brings in campaign donations and keeps a political party flush and strong. That's why they try to pass everything on narrow party-line votes; why they muck up legislation so that even centrist Dems can't stomach voting for it; why they pressure trade associations not to hire Democrats. They can argue either that the sort of influence peddling that has nabbed Ney, the Duke, and others is rare and they shouldn't be tarred with it, or they can argue that it's so common it's unremarkable and not worthy of notice. That's their choice. But they themselves have made clear that they want to own the racket outright. They have done everything they can to make sure that Democrats don't have the opportunity to sell policymaking to the highest bidder. That's the essence of the machine. Having largely succeeded, they then go whine to the papers when the more envelope-pushing activities trigger an investigation, and say they're not the only ones who do it? Unbelievable.

Yep. If only we had a group of professional information-gatherers and disseminators in the capital whose job it was to follow this stuff and report to the public.