Josh Marshall

Josh Marshall is editor and publisher of TalkingPointsMemo.com.

Articles by Josh

Is that a bulge in your jacket? Or do ya just wanna debate me?

I must say I've never been able to get my head around the idea that the president actually had some wiring device on at the debate. But Salon has a new article with an interview with a NASA imagery analyst who says he was.

They report; you decide.

Game. Set. Match.

They got caught with a screw-up, <$NoAd$>their response was to lie, smear, obfuscate and bamboozle. And now the unimpeachable evidence is out.

It captures the administration's whole record on Iraq, only fast-forwarded and telescoped into four days as opposed to four years.

Here's former weapons inspector David Kay on Aaron Brown this evening delivering the news ...

Aaron Brown: We saw at the top of the program there is new information to factor in. Pretty conclusive to our eye. So we'll sort through this now. Take the politics out of it and try and deal with facts with former head UN weapons inspector, US weapons inspector, David Kay. David, it’s nice to see you.

David Kay: Good to be with you, Aaron.

AB: I don't know how better to do this than to show you some pictures have you explain to me what they are or are not. Okay? First what I’ll just call the seal. And tell me if this is an IAEA seal on that bunker at that munitions dump?

DK: Aaron, about as certain as I can be looking at a picture, not physically holding it which, obviously, I would have preferred to have been there, that is an IAEA seal. I've never seen anything else in Iraq in about 15 years of being in Iraq and around Iraq that was other than an IAEA seal of that shape.

AB: Was there anything else at the facility that would have been under IAEA seal?

DK: Absolutely nothing. It was the HMX, RDX, the two high explosives.

AB: OK now, I’ll take a look at barrels here for a second. You can tell me what they tell you. They, obviously, to us just show us a bunch of barrels. You'll see it somewhat differently.

DK: Well, it's interesting. There were three foreign suppliers to Iraq of this explosive in the 1980s. One of them used barrels like this, and inside the barrels a bag. HMX is in powder form because you actually use it to shape a spherical lens that is used to create the triggering device for nuclear weapons. And particularly on the videotape, which is actually better than the still photos, as the soldier dips into it, that's either HMX or RDX. I don't know of anything else in al Qaqaa that was in that form.

AB: Let me ask you then, David, the question I asked Jamie. In regard to the dispute about whether that stuff was there when the Americans arrived, is it game, set, match? Is that part of the argument now over?

DK: Well, at least with regard to this one bunker, and the film shows one seal, one bunker, one group of soldiers going through, and there were others there that were sealed. With this one, I think it is game, set, and match. There was HMX, RDX in there. The seal was broken. And quite frankly, to me the most frightening thing is not only was the seal broken, lock broken, but the soldiers left after opening it up. I mean, to rephrase the so-called pottery barn rule. If you open an arms bunker, you own it. You have to provide security.

AB: I'm -- that raises a number of questions. Let me throw out one. It suggests that maybe they just didn't know what they had?

DK: I think you're quite likely they didn't know they had HMX, which speaks to lack of intelligence given troops moving through that area, but they certainly knew they had explosives. And to put this in context, I think it's important, this loss of 360 tons, but Iraq is awash with tens of thousands of tons of explosives right now in the hands of insurgents because we did not provide the security when we took over the country.

AB: Could you -- I’m trying to stay out of the realm of politics. I'm not sure you can.

DK: So am I.

AB: I know. It's a little tricky here. But, is there any -- is there any reason not to have anticipated the fact that there would be bunkers like this, explosives like this, and a need to secure them?

DK: Absolutely not. For example, al Qaqaa was a site of Gerald Bull's super gun project. It was a team of mine that discovered the HMX originally in 1991. That was one of the most well-documented explosive sites in all of Iraq. The other 80 or so major ammunition storage points were also well documented. Iraq had, and it's a frightening number, two-thirds of the total conventional explosives that the US has in its entire inventory. The country was an armed camp.

AB: David, as quickly as you can, because this just came up in the last hour, as dangerous as this stuff is, this would not be described as a WMD, correct?

DK: Oh absolutely not.

AB: Thank you.

DK: And, in fact, the loss of it is not a proliferation issue.

AB: Okay. It's just dangerous and its out there and by your thinking it should have been secured.

DK: Well look, it was used to bring the Pan Am flight down. It's a very dangerous explosive, particularly in the hands of terrorists.

AB: David, thank you for walking me through this. I appreciate it, David Kay the former head US weapons inspector in Iraq.

Game. Set. Match

Still more problems with Larry Di Rita's endless spinning on al Qaqaa? Globalsecurity.org seems to think so. The satellite imagery Di Rita's handing out to the press doesn't seem to match up with where the explosives were.

Of course, videotape of the explosives still on-site about three weeks later seems pretty revealing too.

Like I said last night, Di Rita's like Rather and Mapes rolled into one, crashing through all the records, looking for anything, anything, to salvage his story.

Let's see how quickly, or if at all, CNN, <$NoAd$>MSNBC and (who knows?) even Fox pick up ABC's report which shows about as conclusively as you're ever going to be shown that the al Qaqaa explosives were there after the war. I'll be much obliged if brave souls watching these operations can send me word about what they're seeing.

And remember this passage from the piece on looters at al Qaqaa from this morning's Times?

The accounts do not directly address the question of when 380 tons of powerful conventional explosives vanished from the site sometime after early March, the last time international inspectors checked the seals on the bunkers where the material was stored. It is possible that Iraqi forces removed some explosives before the invasion.

Though the Times was there going out of its way to give the benefit of the doubt to the White House, does that caveat survive the tapes unearthed today by ABC?

Video editors get slotted for CIA fall-guy role in latest Bush cooked up evidence flap ...

Reed Dickens, spokesman for the Bush-Cheney campaign, acknowledged the image had been adjusted but said it was done during the editing process and had not been ordered by the campaign.

"It was completely unintentional," he said. "The ad has already been replaced."


The latest video tape of al Qaqaa <$NoAd$>unnearthed by a local ABC affiliate and now picked up nationally seems like pretty much game, set, match.

Those corrugated barrels that look like what the IAEA described as the containers for the explosives? Turns out that's exactly what they are. So say at least two former weapons inspectors.

And what about the IAEA seals that were supposed to be there? Turns out those are in the video too.

The only question now, it seems, is why the president and his advisors spent four days spinning out increasingly far-fetched excuses and tall-tales about this, hoping to brazen it out through November 2nd without fessing up.

Even CNN should be convinced. Maybe Wolf can ask the question above?

AP: "The FBI has begun investigating whether the Pentagon improperly awarded no-bid contracts to Halliburton Co., seeking an interview with a top Army contracting officer and collecting documents from several government offices. The line of inquiry expands an earlier FBI investigation into whether Halliburton overcharged taxpayers for fuel in Iraq, and it elevates to a criminal matter the election-year question of whether the Bush administration showed favoritism to Vice President Dick Cheney's former company."

Now the FBI's part of the international anti-Bush conspiracy.

In President Bush’s 2000 convention acceptance speech, he hit the issue of troop readiness hard.

“Our military is low on parts, pay and morale,” he said. “If called on by the commander-in-chief today, two entire divisions of the Army would have to report ... Not ready for duty, sir. This administration had its moment. They had their chance. They have not led. We will.”

Back on December 6th of last year, you’ll remember, the Washington Post reported that in 2004, four of ten Army divisions would not be combat ready for up to six months. Specifically, they would be rated at C-3 or C-4, the Army’s two lowest readiness levels.

Since then, Army internal reporting and a classified Government Accounting Office study of the combat readiness of all US ground forces have further underscored the problem. The Secretary of the Army and others were briefed on the GAO study, which is still under review, earlier this month. Senior uniformed Army officials are, of course, also receiving regular briefings on the situation.

The picture this reporting paints for Guard readiness is, I’m told, considerably more bleak than the December news about readiness in the Army.

Readiness in stateside Guard brigades is so poor because those brigades are essentially being cannibalized – for both men and materiel – to keep afloat brigades that are currently stationed in Iraq.