Josh Marshall

Josh Marshall is editor and publisher of TalkingPointsMemo.com.

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For those of you following the news of John Bolton's "inaccurate" answers to the Senate regarding the State-CIA Niger forgeries investigation, we've just posted a couple updates over at TPMCafe. Click here to see the exact text of the questions Bolton answered "inaccurately" and here to see the letter the Senate Democrats just sent to the president about Bolton's concealing the information.

Sore Arm Watch, from the Omaha World-Herald: "U.S. Rep. Tom Osborne, after siding with a two-vote House majority to approve a controversial trade agreement with Central American countries, said Thursday he feared the sugar industry would suffer reprisals if the pact failed. Osborne said he had heard suggestions from Bush administration officials that the industry's lack of flexibility on trade could hurt it when federal farm programs are rewritten next year."

Scot-Free Watch, from the Rocky Mountain News: "Federal prosecutors have declined to press charges of impersonating a Secret Service agent against a White House volunteer who forcibly ousted three people from a speech by President George W. Bush in Denver on March 21. The announcement was made without explanation Friday in a letter from the Secret Service to Colorado Sen. Ken Salazar and Reps. Mark Udall and Diana DeGette, all Democrats who had asked for the agency to investigate the incident."

Probably most readers of this site are also Atrios readers. So this message is mainly for those who aren't or who haven't stopped by recently.

I haven't written on this. But there's a congressional candidate named Paul Hackett, a Marine corps vet of this Iraq war, who's is in a harsh, down and dirty race in Ohio's 2nd District and in the midst of getting the worst slime treatment you can imagine from the Republican machine.

By the end of it, his volunteering to serve in the war zone will probably be cast as a sign of some deep character flaw or softness on terrorism.

Like I said, I haven't been on top of this. And there's no point in my trying to reproduce everything that's already been written and linked. But if you don't know about this race, go over to Atrios' site and just scroll down looking for posts with the name 'Hackett'. And find out what's going on.

It's amazing how the mind works.

Of all the things for John Bolton to forget about, he forgets that he was interviewed for the Joint State-CIA IG Report on the Niger forgeries.

Here's a question, though. My impression is that you don't just fill these confirmation disclosure forms out one evening in the den over a cup of tea.

I think it's a thorough process, with a team that goes over details, checks over specifics and so forth.

Presumably it was a team of people from State, though I don't know whether they were from his shop or congressional liaison or what. Bolton can't have been the only one who knew he'd been interviewed as part of that investigation, for he wasn't a minor player in the case the Inspectors General were investigating. And he certainly wasn't the only one who reviewed that form.

The latest on the Taylor case, from the Asheville Citizen-Times.

Apparently, his voting card was 'invalid', even though it had worked for a number of other votes on the same day ...

Taylor spokeswoman Deborah Potter said Thursday that Taylor cast his vote near the end of the voting period.

Potter said House members have electronic cards that allow them to vote from another location when they can’t make it to the House floor.

“At the terminal where he put his card in and voted, he voted no,” Potter said.

The machine apparently recorded Taylor’s vote as an invalid card, according to Brian Walsh, press secretary for Congressman Bob Ney. Ney’s office oversees the House Clerk’s Office.

Members of Congress receive a new voting card every Congress, and it’s not clear what the problem was with Taylor’s card.

Are they really serious about <$NoAd$> this?

Apparently, according to the AP, the State Department is confirming Sen. Biden's claim that John Bolton failed to tell senators that he was interviewed in the joint State/CIA IG probe into the US government's use of the forged Niger papers.

Late Update: I've gotten a lot of emails about this. So I wanted to clear up a seemingly widespread confusion. In questioning today, the State Department has apparently backed up Bolton's claim that he did not testify before Patrick Fitzgerald's criminal investigation. The reference above is to the joint State Department-CIA IG investigation from 2003. These are totally different things, though they are both related to the same underlying issue -- the Niger forgeries.

Okay, this is pretty pitiful.

You know we've been talking all day about Rep. Charles Taylor (R-NC) and his claims that the House vote counting tabulation system had wrongly counted him as not voting on CAFTA when in fact he had voted "NO".

We brought you an interview with Rep. Coble (R-NC) who Taylor said he voted with as well as our fruitless efforts to confirm Taylor's story with the House Clerk's office.

Now I've just seen this AP story which follows up on the various stories of Reps who got squeezed by the leadership at the last moment for their votes. The story follows up on Taylor's statement about the mistake in the voting tabulation. And Taylor was apparently asked when he realized the mistake had occurred. According to the AP Taylor said, "This morning, after I got out of the gym."

I'm sorry. But that's ridiculous.

CAFTA was a very important vote. It was particularly important and controversial in Taylor's district, which is very hostile to free trade agreements (for the moment, we'll set aside the issue of what constitutes 'free trade', etc.). Taylor was one of the House Republicans targeted by the leadership to get pressed hard on voting for CAFTA even though it would clearly be unpopular in his district.

He gets wrongly counted as failing to cast a vote. It's publicized widely. And he only realizes something went wrong the next day when he's leaving the gym?

Is that credible?

House Voting Machine Snafu update.

As I noted earlier, Rep. Charles Taylor (R-NC) put out a statement today claiming that he'd voted "NO" on CAFTA only to have the House Clerk's office make an error which led to his vote not being counted. In his statement, Taylor noted that he'd voted with fellow North Carolina Rep. Howard Coble. And we spoke to Coble at length about this this afternoon.

But Taylor also said: "The Clerk's computer logs verified that I had attempted to vote, but it did not show my 'nay'."

I've been trying since late afternoon to get confirmation of this from the House Clerk's office; and I've been told by staffers that Deputy Clerk Gerry Vans is the only person in a position to comment. But I've so far failed to get any response.

I'm a bit unclear about this.

Rawstory has just posted a letter Sen. Biden wrote to Condi Rice alerting to her to the fact that John Bolton may have misinformed the Foreign Relations committee with respect to whether he was interviewed by the State Department IG during the course of the State Dept./CIA joint inspectors general report from 2003.

I find this a bit mystifying for a couple reasons. My recollection from last year, first of all, is that Bolton's supporters were pretty freely noting this report and claiming that it had cleared him of any wrongdoing in the Niger/Uranium matter. Secondly, does this mean that Biden's staff wasn't acquainted with the State/CIA joint report before today?