Josh Marshall

Josh Marshall is editor and publisher of TalkingPointsMemo.com.

Articles by Josh

Like many of you I've been curious just what it's like right now in the White House. So I asked Paul Begala if he could share some of his thoughts on how it feels in a White House under siege, in a special counsel's cross-hairs. Profoundly different as the situations are (Clinton Fall '98 and Bush Fall '05), some of the workplace and emotional dynamics must be the same.

Well, he really hit this one out of the park: the hardest-boiled aides cracking under the pressure, a president paying the price for the toady-fication he's surrounded himself with. Check it out here at TPMCafe; Paul just posted.

Silvio's comin' to town?

Eagle-eyed TPM Reader PP sent me this ABC News political calendar which includes this detail ...

Oct. 31, 2005: President Bush hosts Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi at the White House for a meeting and lunch, Washington, DC.

So let's see. President Bush is engulfed in a firestorm originally ignited by the administration's use of the phony Niger uranium documents. A flurry of press reports in Italy have just implicated Berlusconi's government in being behind the forgeries themselves.

Can I come to lunch too?

Joint press conference? Press questions before the meeting?

More on today's installment of the La Repubblica series. This is a very rough translation of one passage from today's piece. The reference to the 'Atlantic Monthly' actually refers to two reporters from the Washington Monthly (that's small magazine publicity for you), then pursuing the Niger forgeries story ...

Pollari makes his move in the summer of 2004. Usually discreet, he suddenly becomes eloquent. He sits down at his desk behind a pile of papers and documents. As he tells Repubblica (on August 5, 2004): ”I don’t trust anybody. I want to read the documents by myself”. He looks like he’s having a difficult time. He feels the American reporters of the Atlantic Monthly on his neck. He reads a request for an interview posted by the American network CBS at the Italian embassy in Washington. “What do they want from me? Who’s informing them? The CIA? The FBI?”. He knows that Rocco Martino was approached by the producers at 60 Minutes and he fears, as a personal catastrophe, what the man could tell in front of their microphones.

Now Pollari needs a way out of that mess, and he thinks he’s found it. He tells Repubblica ”It was the French of the DGSE to cheat the Americans. We have nothing to do with it”. He takes out a power-point document that should prove the involvement of the French in the Niger affair. It never looks convincing. And time will prove that the French lead was completely unfounded.

To review the original Italian, see the article here at the La Repubblica website.

Just following up on our earlier post about SISMI Chief Nicolo Pollari, there are already a few US news organizations snooping around over in Rome about this story. But, really, they needn't go so far afield.

According to La Repubblica, a key role in the Italo-American Niger uranium back channel was played by a man named Giovanni Castellaneta.

He was then a key foreign policy advisor to Silvio Berlusconi.

He is now the Italian Ambassador to the United States.

I placed a call to the press office at the Italian Embassy in Washington this afternoon. The man who took the call told me the embassy is being deluged by requests to discuss the Repubblica allegations with Castellaneta. He took my number and said I could expect a call back from the press attache.

They won!

Rep. George Miller (D-CA) played a pivotal role in organizing cosponsors for a bill to overturn the president's Gulf Coast Wage Cut. Later, he found a way to force a vote on the legislation. Unwilling to face that prospect, today the White House caved in and revoked the wage cut on their own.

Rep. Miller explains what happened here at TPMCafe.

Pollari on the ropes?

Patrick Fitzgerald's investigation may not be the only game in town when it comes to the now-quickly-evolving Plame/Niger/uranium forgeries story.

As we discussed with you at the time, last year the Italian government and its intelligence agency SISMI mounted an extended disinformation campaign, using articles fed to Italian and British publications, in an effort to discredit or prevent further revelations about SISMI's complicity in the Niger uranium forgeries scandal.

Those bogus stories came in response to the as yet-unpublished-interviews that Rocco Martino was then giving, in which he detailed the involvement of SISMI officer Antonio Nucera and a SISMI asset, a female Italian national, who works in the Nigerien embassy in Rome in the promulgation of the forgeries.

Repubblica now seems to be delving into that cover-up effort that was taking place through much of last year.

More soon.

David Rieff questions the premises of establishment Democratic foreign policy thinking and the assumptions of the authors of TPMCafe's America Abroad blog.