David Kurtz

David Kurtz is Managing Editor and Washington Bureau Chief of Talking Points Memo where he oversees the news operations of TPM and its sister sites.

Articles by David

All indications at this point are that the North Koreans have conducted a nuclear weapons test. According to CNN:

Late Sunday in Washington, the U.S. military told CNN it believed the report to be true, but was working to fully confirm it.

Senior U.S. officials said they also believed the test took place.

This is a strategic disaster of the first order.

Well, Foley may get pushed off the front page.

North Korea claims it has successfully completed its first nuclear test.

And some South Korean officials say there are signs it's true.

Developing . . .

Update: From the AP:

North Korea said Monday it has performed its first-ever nuclear weapons test. The country's official Korean Central News Agency said the test was performed successfully and there was no radioactive leakage from the site.

"The nuclear test is a historic event that brought happiness to the our military and people," KCNA said.

South Korea's Yonhap news agency is reporting that government officials said North Korea performed its first-ever nuclear weapons test Monday.

South Korean officials could not immediately confirm the report.

South Korean President Roh Moo-hyun convened an urgent meeting of security advisers over the issue, Yonhap reported.

Late update: AP reporting that the test occurred 9:36 p.m. EDT Sunday. You can't very well hide a nuclear test, so American officials already know whether it occurred. Any unusual activity at State or Pentagon tonight?

This is big:

A Republican congressman knew of disgraced former representative Mark Foley's inappropriate Internet exchanges as far back as 2000 and personally confronted Foley about his communications.

A spokeswoman for Rep. Jim Kolbe (R-Ariz.) confirmed yesterday that a former page showed the congressman Internet messages that had made the youth feel uncomfortable with the direction Foley (R-Fla.) was taking their e-mail relationship. . . .

The revelation pushes back by at least five years the date when a member of Congress has acknowledged learning of Foley's behavior with former pages.

That's not the other shoe dropping, that's Imelda Marcos' whole closet.

TPM Reader MA checks in:

If only Democrats could plan a bit more than a half-step ahead, they'd pay close attention to what Baker is cooking up, as it were.

The emerging plan for the next couple of years seems to be to attempt to pile on Democrats with the accusation of "cut and run" prior to the midterm elections and then to shift gears, declare limited victory in Iraq and propose a timetable for withdrawal AFTER the midterm elections and before the next general election.

The Iraqi people want a timetable for us to get out of there as do the American people. The only other option is to ramp up the forces there to the half-million or more necessary to secure the country -- a plan that, with the deteriorating situation in Afghanistan and other potential threats -- would almost surely entail reinstating the draft, something that the GOP will NEVER do in the leadup to a presidential election.

Democrats need to see what's coming -- and advocate for what they believe. I suspect that they will almost always be losers in the war debate since they were dumb enough to back Bush in the first place and they'll always be the ones who didn't have the guts to say what they knew was the right thing to say WHEN it needed to be said. If there charge against Bush is that he got it all wrong -- that just makes them look like the idiots they were for jumping on his bandwagon.

Still, they need to tell the public what's going on, that even as the GOP numbly repeat their "cut and run" charge, they are plotting to announce a plan for troop withdrawals after the elections, and they need to take the initiative to come up with a least-worst withdrawal plan and make that an issue NOW before Republicans steal it from them.

I think MA is correct on the GOP plans for Iraq, and I touched on this a while back. But the larger issue he is getting at applies well beyond Iraq.

The Democrats have to make sure that they frame the election in the next few weeks in such a way that they can convert the political momentum of victory into a strong post-election political position on a range of issues.

For example, prior to the Foley scandal, I think it would have been difficult for the Democrats to persuasively argue that their victory was a mandate for fundamental political reform. But now the issue of scandal and corruption has been clearly framed, and Democratic victory would carry with it a strong mandate to clean up public corruption.

Winning the election must of course be the first priority, but it's time to be thinking ahead.

Remember our good friend Dusty Foggo? Former No. 3 at CIA. Buddy of Brent Wilkes. Under federal criminal investigation.

Colorful little piece in tomorrow's Washington Post unrelated to any of the above, except that it hints at the politicization of the Agency under Porter Goss:

Foggo, according to Berntsen, stated flatly that Goss wanted no more books published by current or former CIA officials. Actually, according to a statement Berntsen filed last week in his ongoing lawsuit against the agency, Foggo's language was a little more colorful: "Mr. Foggo stated 'we will have no more books. I will redact the [expletive] out of your book so no one will want to read it.' "

The CIA's offical review board redacted 5 pages of the 400-page manuscript, then sent it on to the Directorate of Operations, which redacted 70 pages.

Wolf goes and gets all journalistic on us--pugilistic even. The victim? The very deserving Rep. Patrick McHenry (R-NC), who has been making baseless charges about Democratic involvement in the Foley scandal. See the video here.

Update: Atrios comes to McHenry's defense. Sort of.

So now we know that the triggering event for that 2002 or 2003 meeting between Kirk Fordham and Scott Palmer was Mark Foley's showing up drunk at the page dorm. You would think that might get the Speaker's attention, no?

Six months to stabilize Afghanistan, says the NATO commander there, or 70 percent of the population will switch sides to the Taliban.

I've always thought of Rep. Ray Lahood (R-IL) as a moderate Bob Michel Republican. Desperate times call for desperate measures, I suppose, and apparently that means everyone in the GOP has to drink the Kool-Aid.

Lahood, appearing on Face the Nation this morning, lauded Denny Hastert as an paragon of ethics and good government:

He took care of Tom DeLay, his best friend. When Tom was having ethical problems, the speaker went to him and asked him to leave. When he appointed Duke Cunningham to the Intelligence Committee, he went to Duke and made sure he wasn't on the Intelligence Committee after it was disclosed he took $2.3 million. And when Bob Ney was appointed chairman of the House Administration Committee, he was appointed by Speaker Hastert. Speaker Hastert went to him and told him to step down from that committee after the Abramoff disclosures.

Setting aside Hastert's obviously bad record of appointing good people (or is it good record of appointing bad people?), Lahood knows this version of events isn't accurate. Not even close.

Delay hung on for months, years even, under an ethical cloud. Just this weekend it was reported that Hastert's staff was instrumental in passage of the Delay Rule, which would have permitted Delay to remain as majority leader even after a felony indictment against him, until public outcry forced the GOP caucus to rescind the rule change.

Duke was gone from Congress so fast it made your head spin. I can't find any record of Cunningham stepping down from the Intel Committee before he resigned from Congress, which he didn't do until he entered his guilty plea to the corruption charges. The Duke story broke in June 2005. He announced in July 2005 that he wouldn't seek re-election. In November 2005, he entered his guilty plea and announced his resignation from Congress. In December 2005, the Intel Committee announced a shuffle of positions resulting from Duke's departure. In April 2006, Hastert announced Duke's replacement on the committee. Nothing in that timeline suggests early intervention by Hastert.

As for Ney, there is some truth to Lahood's assertion, but an incomplete half truth at best. Hastert did push him to resign his chairmanship, but not until after Jack Abramoff's guilty plea. In bears noting that as of right now Ney is still a Member of Congress.

Hastert has stonewalled, resisted, enabled, ignored, participated--well, you get the idea. He is the longest serving GOP Speaker in history. One of the most corrupt Congresses in history is his legacy. He built it. He owns it.