Josh Marshall

Josh Marshall is editor and publisher of TalkingPointsMemo.com.

Articles by Josh

Live by the word game, die by the <$NoAd$>word game.

Andrew Sullivan arguing that no one said the threat was imminent (emphasis added) ...

We can fight over words in this way, but the fundamental reality also undermines Marshall's case. The point about 9/11 is that it showed that we were in a new world where we could be attacked by shadowy groups with little warning. The point about Saddam is that he was a sworn enemy of the U.S., had been known to develop an arsenal of WMDs, was in a position to arm terrorists in a devastating way, and any president had to weigh the risk of him staying in power in that new climate. The actual threat hangs over us all the time. It is unlike previous threats from foreign powers. It is accountable to no rules and no ethics. We know it will give us no formal warning. But we cannot know it is "imminent".

Webster’s, well-known dictionary manufacturer, defining ‘imminent’ …

Main Entry: im•mi•nent
Pronunciation: 'i-m&-n&nt
Function: adjective
Etymology: Latin imminent-, imminens, present participle of imminEre to project, threaten, from in- + -minEre (akin to Latin mont-, mons mountain) -- more at MOUNT
Date: 1528
: ready to take place; especially : hanging threateningly over one's head (was in imminent danger of being run over)
- im•mi•nent•ly adverb

Some curveballs hang too temptingly over the plate.

Who you gonna believe? Me, or <$NoAd$>your lyin' eyes?

Check out this gem, from an article from Hearst Newspapers' Eric Rosenberg, which I found through Atrios ...

For example, on Feb. 20, a month before the invasion, Rumsfeld fielded a question about whether Americans would be greeted as liberators if they invaded Iraq.

"Do you expect the invasion, if it comes, to be welcomed by the majority of the civilian population of Iraq?" Jim Lehrer asked the defense secretary on PBS' "The News Hour."

"There is no question but that they would be welcomed," Rumsfeld replied, referring to American forces. "Go back to Afghanistan, the people were in the streets playing music, cheering, flying kites, and doing all the things that the Taliban and the al-Qaeda would not let them do."

The Americans-as-liberators theme was repeated by other senior administration officials in the weeks preceding the war, including Rumsfeld's No. 2 - Deputy Defense Secretary Paul Wolfowitz - and Vice President Cheney.

But on Sept. 25, - a particularly bloody day in which one U.S. soldier was killed in an ambush, eight Iraqi civilians died in a mortar strike and a member of the U.S-appointed governing council died after an assassination attempt five days earlier - Rumsfeld was asked about the surging resistance.

"Before the war in Iraq, you stated the case very eloquently and you said . . . they would welcome us with open arms," Sinclair Broadcasting anchor Morris Jones said to Rumsfeld as the prelude to a question.

The defense chief quickly cut him off. "Never said that," he said. "Never did. You may remember it well, but you're thinking of somebody else. You can't find, anywhere, me saying anything like either of those two things you just said I said."

Let me guess, we're gonna get hung up on "open arms"?

(Just between you and me, what's really pitiful about this exchange is that the Sec Def could have easily and correctly said that being welcomed by the majority of the population as liberators is not necessarily inconsistent with follow-on paramilitary or guerilla resistance -- even on a substantial scale. But Rumsfeld just can't help himself.)

I almost missed this brief, crisp critique of the administration's Iraq policy by Jacob Weisberg. Glad I didn't.

It all reminds me of what one of my best military sources for my first Iraq article kept coming back to, a phrase drilled into all Army officers: Hope is not a plan.

Department of revealing <$NoAd$>projection ...

The United States [i.e., the Bush administration] is deeply frustrated with its hand-picked council members because they have spent more time on their own political or economic interests than in planning for Iraq's political future.

From today's Washington Post on the US rethinking the Interim Governing Council.

Of course, one can project but also be on to something.

See this clip from Tom Friedman's column on Thursday ...

The reason this happened is that the U.S.-appointed Iraqi Governing Council, which is supposed to come up with a plan for forming the constitution-writing committee, is becoming dysfunctional. Several key G.C. members, particularly the Pentagon's favorite son, Ahmad Chalabi, have been absent from Iraq for weeks. Only seven or eight of the 24 G.C. members show up at meetings anymore.

Where's Ahmed? My neocon friend and I came up with a short list of Washington, London or Tehran. But who knows?

The meme at last seems to <$Ad$>be taking flight.

For more than a year I've argued that the Office of the Vice President operates in the Bush White House as a sort of rogue operation, free from the bureaucratic and organizational constraints and responsibilities imposed on the normal agencies and departments of the executive branch.

(Also, almost everything Cheney touches goes bad.)

This from the new 'how Cheney sold us the Iraq war' piece in Newsweek ...

Cheney has long been regarded as a Washington wise man. He has a dry, deliberate manner; a penetrating, if somewhat wintry, wit, and a historian’s long-view sensibility. He is far to the right politically, but in no way wild-eyed; in private conversation he seems moderate, thoughtful, cautious. Yet when it comes to terrorist plots, he seems to have given credence to the views of some fairly flaky ideologues and charlatans.

And this ...

Nonetheless, it appears that Cheney has been susceptible to “cherry-picking,” embracing those snippets of intelligence that support his dark prognosis while discarding others that don’t. He is widely regarded in the intelligence community as an outlier, as a man who always goes for the worst-case —scenario and sometimes overlooks less alarming or at least ambiguous signs. Top intelligence officials reject the suggestion that Cheney has somehow bullied lower-level CIA or Defense Intelligence Agency analysts into telling him what he wants to hear. But they do describe the Office of the Vice President, with its large and assertive staff, as a kind of free-floating power base that at times brushes aside the normal policymaking machinery under national-security adviser Condoleezza Rice. On the road to war, Cheney in effect created a parallel government that became the real power center.

Compare this name-brand product to the lower-cost generic versions from September 2002 and January 2003.

One other thing: It's become conventional wisdom that the Pentagon, or rather the civilians at the Pentagon, muscled out the State Department on key issues of planning for Iraq. My recent reporting tells me it's much more a matter of Cheney and the Office of the Vice President. Much more.

Sullivanus Laughibalis. I’d heard that Andrew Sullivan was preparing a “counterblast” to my recent writings on the ‘imminent threat’ ridiculousness. Well, now it’s up. And you can see it here: "Marshall Comes Up Empty".

Most revealing nugget: Sullivan found the direct quotations chosen by TPM readers so weak, skewerable, and unconvincing that he fails to quote, mention or even make reference to any of them.

Imagine that.

(Also note the funny-business with the Rumsfeld quote.)

Do you reap what you sow?

From Dick Cheney on the hustings on Friday ...

In Iraq, a ruthless dictator cultivated weapons of mass destruction and the means to deliver them. He gave support to terrorists, had an established relationship with al Qaeda -- and his regime is no more. (italics added)

One can only imagine where they're going with this one.

The Republicans are puffing themselves up with a lot of mock outrage over this Democratic draft memo. And the White House is about to get into the act too.

I’ve got an idea, a proposal, shall we say, that I’m going to float on behalf of the Democrats to get us past all this acrimony and suspicion.

The Democrats will turn over all their memos and work product on everything to do with intelligence and investigations into intelligence. Everything back to September 1st, 2001.

And I mean everything --- every staff memo, every planning memo, minutes from brainstorming sessions, memos from each senator's staff, communications with the White House and the CIA, and planning and strategizing with regards to both. All the work product. Everything. They’ll package it all together and give one copy to the majority and one copy to the White House.

In exchange, the majority will hand over the same range of documents to the minority and the White House.

And the White House and the rest of the national security-related departments and agencies in the executive branch will hand over the same to the majority and the minority in the Senate.