Josh Marshall

Josh Marshall is editor and publisher of TalkingPointsMemo.com.

Articles by Josh

A Few Thoughts on a Terrible Day

First a thought, or perhaps an affirmation. The only response to acts of indiscriminate murder such as those today in London is implacable resistance -- and such resistance means not only retaliation against those responsible and guarding against all possible similar acts, but implacable resistance to terrorists' desire and aim to disrupt the rhythm of our daily lives and our civilization itself.

Today we've had a reminder of what we face. But let's be clear what we're seeing. In more venues than I'd care to admit I've seen posts and speechifying which say, in so many words: 'For all those who've gone wobbly on Iraq, see, you got complacent! But terrorism is real!'

The real threat we face isn't in Iraq. And being in Iraq isn't diminishing it. The real threat is painfully low-tech but yet highly-lethal acts of terror committed -- in most cases -- in the great metropoles of the West. And I suspect we'll find, as we did in 9/11, that the immediate perpetrators were neither people who were minding their own business before we invaded Iraq nor even people who have their main base in the core countries of the Arab Middle East, but rather recruits from the disaffected and deracinated diaspora of Muslim immigrants in the West -- a tiny fraction out of the millions who are making their homes in our country and in those of Europe.

Certainly, it's no accident that the two acts of terror in Europe in the last three years happened in America's two main Iraq war allies, though I agree with Ed Kilgore's point that the proximate message here is to the G8. That notwithstanding, what I take from all this is the fundamental irrelevance of Iraq to what happened today.

The threat of terrorism is very real, especially in major cities. But with respect to the folks who want to lasso this into a pillar of support for a disastrous policy in Iraq, frankly, we already knew terrorism was real. Most people are sick to death of our bumbling in Iraq because it's distracted us from actually defending ourselves.

The immediate answer to this is to hunt down the people immediately responsible, root out the primarily-non-state terror networks that support, plan and make these attacks possible and start getting about serious homeland defense -- port security, rail security, nuclear power plant security.

On that last count, what we've accomplished in the US over the last few years has been painfully inadequate, largely because of our focus on nation-states that have only a tenuous connection to this threat -- a lot of lies, mumbojumbo, and scurrilous and dark motives by the usual suspects notwithstanding.

Finally, I think we should look very closely at what actually happened today. It took a lot of coordination and it took a lot of lives. But it was extremely low-tech. It didn't take mad scientists or proliferated technology. And in a way that makes it all the harder to prevent.

Beside the threat we face from the bacillus of Islamic terror, President Bush has created a great running wound on the whole country in the form of the mess he's created in Iraq -- a wound bleeding blood, treasure and a scourge of national division which is now impossible to ignore but which we can ill-afford. Even now his cheerleaders are trying to enlist this outrage in the battle to prop up their folly in Iraq. If anything our folly in Iraq has made the immediacy and intensity of this basic threat worse. But let's not be blinded by our outrage at that folly or distracted from thinking concretely, together and resolutely, how we defend our innocents from such religious fanaticism and the violence it spawns.

(ed.note: It's not normally policy. But since the problems with the site mentioned below have kept me from posting until now, I've cross-posted this entry to TPMCafe as well.)

This is just a brief update on why -- among other things -- there are no posts on TPM this morning, particularly on the coordinated terror attacks today in London.

As you might have expected, the news out of London generated a wave of traffic to this and other sites. And that surge was particularly large at our sister site, TPMCafe. The site's been hard to access since roughly 10 AM this morning. And I've been busy since then working with our tech folks to deal with that -- thus the lack of posts here.

We're adding more server capacity over at TPMCafe. And we'll keep you posted on developments there.

More soon.

Remember, this isn't the first time Patrick Fitzgerald has tangled with Judy Miller in a leaks investigation of the Bush White House. I've posted more details at TPMCafe.

"A special grand jury indicted three of [Kentucky] Gov. Ernie Fletcher's subordinates Wednesday, including his deputy chief of staff, on various misdemeanor charges, including criminal conspiracy and political discrimination."

More here.

As I've noted a few times now I'm not convinced -- though none of us have enough information -- that Judy Miller is in prison right now because of things she did as a journalist, properly speaking. In various chapters of the war and intelligence drama we've all witnessed over the last four years, Miller has been an actor as much as a journalist, often acting in close coordination with the folks who figure as prime suspects in this caper.

That said, there is a line of thinking that's become fairly widespread among the president's critics and many Democrats that says that journalistic privilege is meant to protect whistleblowers and sources exposing wrong-doing not sources who are the wrongdoers themselves.

There's a certain moral economy to this reasoning. But in practice, in the real world journalists operate in, that reasoning just doesn't hold water. It's a specious reasoning that allows people to have their civil libertarian cake and eat it too.

(I'll try to elaborate on why I think this in a subsequent post.)

Finally, in such a swirl of ethical and political uncertainty, perhaps we can take some heart from the editorialists at the Washington Post. They seem fairly clear that there's little chance that a crime was committed, and that whatever may have happened wasn't such a big deal in the first place.

Good to know they've got this one squared away.

A TPM Reader informs me that Tucker Carlson, and apparently other scofflaw Republicans, are out there again making the claims that Valerie Plame wasn't a covert agent at CIA after all and that, apparently, there's no crime at the bottom of the whole thing.

I'm hoping maybe I can speak to Tucker or maybe that he'll go directly to Langley and also to speak to Mr. Fitzgerald because he seems to know stuff no one else is aware of, perhaps vouchsafed to him through a special revelation.

As we noted almost two years ago, the statute that started this whole gangling cavalcade in motion only applies to covert agents. The Justice Department investigation began in response to a CIA 'referral'. Presumably the people at the CIA know Plame's status. Such a referral is made when the referring agency believes that a crime may have been committed that the Justice Department should investigate. If she wasn't covert, a crime could not have been committed. And yet they sent the referral because they think a crime may well have been committed. Ergo, the CIA must believe she is covert. Carlson says, no. But that's their story and they're stickin' to it.

Perhaps she wasn't covert enough for Carlson. But I'll leave that to Carlson, Angleton, Donovan and whatever other worthies he regularly communes with.

As for Fitzgerald and the current investigation, he seems out of the Carlson loop too.

As we noted a few days ago, DOJ guidelines are pretty clear on just how and when prosecutors should even try to compel testimony from journalists, let alone try to throw them in jail. It's not to be done for idle curiosity or to tie up loose ends, but only when the prosecutor believes he's zeroing in on a crime. And even then they're not supposed to do it unless all other alternatives have been exhausted. So unless Fitzgerald's not following the procedures he should be, it seems Fitzgerald is pretty confident there is a significant crime at the bottom of all this.

In sum, Carlson seems like the only fellow in Washington who's really got the goods on this whole case. If he could just lay it out for us, maybe Cooper, Miller, Fitzgerald and all those good souls at the White House could finally put this regrettable saga behind them.

Ahhh, the intricacies of Aqua-Duke. This from Roll Call ..<$NoAd$>.

Sure, now it’s called the “Duke-Stir.” But the 42-foot Carver boat — yeah, the one that was raided by federal agents on Friday, a fact first reported by Roll Call — had a different name when Rep. Duke Cunningham (R-Calif.) became its unofficial helmsman. The yacht used to be called “Bouy Toy,” so named by its former owners, a gay couple, according to sources at the Capitol Yacht Club.

Apparently, the fellas down at the marina kind of razzed ol’ Duke, a former “top gun” fighter pilot, about the gay-themed name. And apparently, Cunningham couldn’t take it. He changed the boat’s name from the sweet-and-saucy Bouy Toy to the mucho macho Duke-Stir in December 2004, according to Coast Guard records.

Aqua-Duke ...

So Matt Cooper agrees to testify ...

I'll be curious to see what turn of events led to this or whether it was just the approaching prospect of a long stint in prison. In Cooper's case I'll give a strong benefit of the doubt till I hear otherwise, since he's one of the few people who's held his head high through this whole sordid and long-drawn-out affair.

Of equal interest to me is Judith Miller.

As we suggested a few days ago, it's not clear to me that Miller is in this jam for the same reasons as Cooper is.

And in the Post this morning comes this hint: "Fitzgerald may learn more details from Cooper's notes. Sources close to the investigation say there is evidence in some instances that some reporters may have told government officials -- not the other way around -- that Wilson was married to Plame, a CIA employee."

Go figure ...

Like to discuss and share your thoughts? We've opened a special discussion thread on this breaking news at TPMCafe.

As near as I can tell, there's no major new Duke Cunningham scandal in the news today. And yet, it's still pretty early.

On the other hand, this gives me an opportunity to highlight the chart Bob Brigham posted yesterday over at the Swing State Project. Particularly if you're just getting started, it can help clear up all the players.

It includes a column each for each bagman/shark, organized vertically with the relevant yacht, how much Duke scored from the given bagman, which house he helped with, and so forth.

"We're going to fight this through to the end," says Duke Cunningham. Those were Rep. Randy "Duke" Cunningham's (R-Wade) words before ducking into a no-press speech before the Escondido Rotary Club.

Does he plan to seek a ninth term? "Absolutely."