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Josh Marshall

Josh Marshall is editor and publisher of TalkingPointsMemo.com.

Articles by Josh

Okay, a few quick points to run down. This piece at ABCNews.com has a helpful run-down of the various political and faction leaders in and around the new Afghan government.

This article from the New York Times makes it look like I'm pretty much definitely going to have to pay out on that bet with my friend from the Washington Post over whether John Walker is going to end up doing time.

I've gotten a lot of folks suggesting that I post the list of news and commentary links that I work from on my computer desktop each day. I use it as my homepage, and a number of my friends now do as well. Of course, it'd only be useful as your homepage if you're interested in the selections of domestic and foreign news and commentary sites it contains. In any case, you be the judge.

Good December 19th post by Marshall Wittman on new GOP Chairman Marc Racicot (I wish Marshall had links to specific posts like TPM, but alas ...). Racicot is insisting on remaining a corporate lobbyist while serving as GOP party chair. One might be forgiven for snarkily commenting that, in practice, shilling for the GOP and "energy, agricultural and recording industry interests" probably doesn't amount to such a conflict after all. But Marshall's got a good point. If Racicot gives a damn about the Republican party, he'll take Marshall's advice and make a choice between the job and the bucks. Of course, as a Dem, I just assume he keeps the job and brings on a few more clients. At the top of my list would be the Asbestos Council, Association of PCB Manufacturers, or maybe the Saccharine Institute.

Finally, am I the only one who wonders why there's a dorky, goofballian singing segment at the end of Larry King Live ever since September 11th? I mean, isn't it bad enough we have to endure terrorism?

I'm not sure when the New York Times is going to stop calling the 'B' Section 'A Nation Challenged,' but today's section is packed with interesting pieces.

This article shows how the rule of the Taliban was in many ways an example of a common process one sees recurring throughout history: circumstances wherein the collapse or mutual destruction of urban elites leads to armies from the countryside taking over and imposing the backward ways of rural villages on the cities (sorta like GOP control of the House of Reps! ... okay, sorry, just kidding ... back to our story). As the article explains, in many ways, the rigid rule we associate with the Taliban - enforced-burqa-wearing, no education for girls - has always been standard fare in many villages of southern Afghanistan, the region where most of the Taliban leaders came from. What was new was the imposition of these severe customs on the more educated and cosmopolitan cities, as well as their enforcement in other regions of the country where such a harsh code had never been known.

John Walker's parents and lawyer have been expressing increasing frustration that Walker - presently cooling his heels on the U.S.S. Peleliu in the Arabian Sea - has thus far not been allowed to meet with his lawyer. The White House responds that for the moment at least Walker is simply a prisoner of war and has no constitutional rights per se until he's bounced over into the judicial system.

Whatever problems one might have with military tribunals, is it really possible to gainsay the White House response on this one?

The Post raises the possibility that information collected now under military interrogation might not be admissible in a subsequent court proceeding. And a visit from the Red Cross would seem to be in order, though perhaps not a Red Cross-delivered letter from the 'rents.

But isn't it just ludicrous to assume that John Walker - at best a prisoner of war taken by the US armed forces - has the same rights as someone arrested in the United States for a criminal offense?

Whatever you may think about President Bush's current sky-high approval ratings, I am definitely one of those who believes that House Democrats should do quite well in the November 2002 off-year elections.

They have the able leadership of New York Rep. Nita Lowey and various crafty political operatives working under her. Still, with all the chatter about Marin-born Taliban John Walker being the product of permissive, New Age, Me-generation parenting, maybe the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee (DCCC) should reconsider the design of its new logo which seems to imply that Democrats endorse pyramids, and perhaps even crystals!

Will you indulge me?

Can we do a little Condit, just for old-time's sake?

Excellent!

Okay, here's the deal: When last we checked in with the pitiful, soon-to-be -former congressman from Modesto, he had decided to run for yet another term in congress. Condit told the LA Times he was "a little embarrassed" (cue: snicker here) by all the support he'd gotten from well-wishers across the United States. "People relate to this in the sense that I have been mistreated in terms of my civil liberties and in terms of the theory in this country that one is innocent until proven guilty," Condit told the Times.

Now, the House Dems are in a bit of a bind because it's tough for them not to support a fellow Democratic congressman for reelection - no matter how big a bozo he might be.

So let me see if I can give them a hand.

You may have heard that Gary Condit got a subpoena from a DC grand jury in mid-November. What you may not have heard is that he has resisted complying with that subpoena, apparently on the grounds that complying might violate the separation of powers doctrine.

This joke just sorta tells itself doesn't it?

First Condit got Marina Ein to flak for him. Now he's gotta drag James Madison into the mix?

CNN is slated to run an interview tonight with American mujahid John Walker.

In the interview Walker condemns the Mazar-e Sharif prison uprising which occurred soon after he was interrogated by CIA officer Mike Spann, and in which Spann was killed. The uprising is "against what we had agreed upon, and ... against Islam. It is a major sin to break a contract, especially in military situations," Walker told a CNN interviewer on December 2nd.

No doubt, Walker's handlers at the firm of Morrison & Foerster will cheer this interview, believing it distances him at least somewhat from the prison revolt in which Spann was killed.

Actually, it makes Walker seem like an even bigger whack.

Blow up the World Trade Center and kill thousands of civilians? You bet. Break a battlefield surrender agreement? What do you think we are? Animals?

Meanwhile, the New York Times seems to have missed the mega-TPM scoop about how Walker's attorney James J. Brosnahan told partners in his law firm that if Walker didn't get with the program and ditch his bin-Laden-loving ways the firm would drop his case.

Clearly, life is not fair. There is no justice. Yada. Yada ... yada.

If you'd read this article in the current issue of the battle-ravaged American Prospect, you'd know that Richard Perle is Chairman of the Pentagon's Defense Policy Board, a standing committee charged with evaluating Defense Department readiness, acquisitions, planning, and all manner of defense-wonk big-think. That fact has some bearing on Perle's opinion about the cancellation of a major Navy weapons program.

But apparently, no one told the Washington Post, which quoted Perle thusly in Saturday's paper:

Richard Perle, a missile defense advocate who served in the Pentagon during the Reagan administration, said he wasn't upset by the cancellation. "I'm for missile defenses, but I'm not for bad programs," he said. "I'd rather move cautiously."
P.S. Special thanks to TPM reader CM for the catch.

An important update on the post about John Walker from earlier today. Just because John Walker now says he was buds with Osama bin Laden and a member of Al Qaeda, doesn't mean it's so. But from the perspective of how much mercy he's likely to get from US courts and the American public, the fact that he still seems to be boasting about such things is really as important as whether or not such claims are actually true.

File this away in your connecting-the-dots folder. According to Roll Call, once and future national Democratic ticket contender, Senator Joe Lieberman, has confirmed that he'll begin an investigation of Enron early next year in the Senate Government Affairs Committee.

Why, why, why, why ...

Things just keep going from bad to worse for American mujahid John Walker.

From the beginning I've had the suspicion that at the end of the day Walker would basically get off scot-free. The administration clearly just wanted the issue to go away (it's off message in a big way); after a while most people wouldn't have the stomach for seeing tough punishment meted out to the pitiful goof; and, for various technical reasons, finding a specific crime to indict him with in a civilian court would be difficult. In fact, at a party a couple nights ago I even bet a friend ten bucks that Walker would never serve jail time -- even though I figured this was a bet I'd more than likely lose.

In any case, now it comes out that Walker was actually a member of Al Qaeda, trained at some of the terrorist training camps, and even hung out with bin Laden himself.

One also gets the sense that Walker isn't confessing the error of his ways on that American ship in the Arabian Sea.

Let's remember that, as Talking Points noted in a TOO-LITTLE-NOTED SCOOP about a week and a half ago, the law firm Walker's parents retained to defend him, Morrison & Foerster, was already nervous about just what Walker's post-capture attitude was going to turn out to be. If Walker remained an unrepentant bin-Ladenite, lead attorney James J. Brosnahan told a private meeting a Morrison & Foerster partners and associates on December 5th, he'd likely end up being an ex-Morrison & Foerster client really quick.

So maybe my better bet would have been how many days are left before John Walker's big San Francisco law firm drops him like a stone.

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