Josh Marshall

Josh Marshall is editor and publisher of TalkingPointsMemo.com.

Articles by Josh

Seattle Times ...

John Pennington, the official in charge of federal disaster response in the Northwest, was a four-term Republican state representative who ran a mom-and-pop coffee company in Cowlitz County when then-Congresswoman Jennifer Dunn helped him get his federal post.

Before he was appointed regional director of the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), Pennington got a degree from a correspondence school that government investigators later described as a "diploma mill."

Pennington, 38, says he worked for his degree and he is qualified for the FEMA job.

Read the rest.

CNN files lawsuit against government agencies seeking to bar press coverage of victim retrieval process.

From a bad novel? Actually from the WSJ: "Ten U.S. Army recruiters are offering volunteer help for Katrina evacuees at Houston's Astrodome. But the recruiters, struggling to keep enlistment up during Iraq war, are also available with options for the jobless. "Our intent is to approach the evacuees at the right time for them,'' says Army spokesman Douglas Smith."

Here's one question we're trying to get a handle on for our timeline. TPM Research Fellow Austin Bonner takes it from here ...

Reports have pointed to the number body bags in New Orleans as a possible indication of the expected death toll. But it's unclear from news reports if the number 25,000 means that FEMA estimated their need and then requested that many or there were simply 25,000 body bags available in the area.

On Thursday, September 8, the Times-Picayune reported that Bob Johannessen, a spokesman for the state Department of Health and Hospitals, told them officials have "25,000 body bags on hand", saying "We don't know what to expect." FEMA spokesman Ricardo Zuniga has used the same language. Fox News, Reuters, and other outlets also said the body bags were "on hand." AP described the bags as "in the state."

But San Antonio Express-News characterizes Johannessen's statement differently, reporting that he " said the Federal Emergency Management Agency has shipped 25,000 body bags to Louisiana."

And other outlets like Investors Business Daily and the Chicago Tribune described FEMA as "ordering" the body bags.

So, is there a background source out there telling reporters that FEMA estimated the death toll and had 25,000 body bags sent in or is this a misunderstanding?

Here is a question a number of readers have asked; and it's a good one.

Given his role in the Homeland Security chain of command, Michael Brown must have had a reasonably high security clearance for his job. But to get even the most basic security clearance requires a very extensive background check, in which FBI investigators go back through your resume, talk to past employers, look up old addresses, etc.

Yet, at least Brown's public resume appears to contain a number of innaccuracies of a substantial nature. What's more, at least two of his former employers appear to have given him very poor marks. (I base this on the assumption that the horse folks who fired him probably didn't have a lot good to say and the comments from another former employer, Stephen Jones, here).

There's some similar sort of background check when you get your senate confirmation. So, did all these fibs come out in that background check? And if so, why didn't they raise any red flags, let alone scuttle his nomination?

(ed.note: When I say 'resume' above, I don't mean the FBI works literally from a resume. But they get all your background info from you, including former places of residence, employment, etc.)

Bob Kaiser thinks they should look into it ...

Berkeley, Calif.: The Post published an incorrect report that the La. Governor had not declared a state of emergency about a week after she had. A White House source was cited. Why didn't you check this? Do you know why the White House provided false info? Were they that clueless or that dishonest? I think The Post owes us some answers about its own work and the White House on this.

Robert G. Kaiser: This seems a fair point to me. I'm sitting here answering questions so can't immediately find out what our plans are, but I hope they include revisiting this matter for our readers' benefit.

From an online Q&A this morning at the Post website.

Ivo Daalder is right. Michael Brown's non-dismissal dismissal is a day late and a dollar short. Actually, we're two weeks into this, so it's two weeks late. The responsibility for putting a nincompoop in charge of federal disaster relief doesn't rest with the nincompoop. It goes right to the top -- to the person who put him there.