Josh Marshall

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Okay, a quick update on the NIE calls. Basically, very few members of Congress are even willing to take a position yet -- Republicans or Democrats. Some of this is just a matter of decisions not trickling down to the folks at the phones. But it is also an example of the pretty regrettable fact that most members' offices just aren't in the habit or used to giving straight answers on back questions to the folks who put them in office. And it shows that a lot more pressure is necessary, on everyone.

A lot of folks who've called their Republican reps or senators are getting the brush or getting told lies that it's already out or a bunch of other mumbojumbo. If you can't get a straight answer you can also call your representatives campaign, if they're running this year.

So far, Santorum and Allen seem to be stiffing constituents pretty consistently. Keep at it and we'll share what you find out with the rest of your fellow readers.

TPM Reader TC tries the White House ...

So, on the advice of Senator Voinovich's office I phoned the White House comment line.

I commented that on the advice of my state Senator I was phoning to request that the April National Intelligence Estimate be released to the public.

The operator: "You mean the one leaked to the Post and New York Times this weekend?"

I commented that I had learned of the reports existence over the weekend and I thought that voters have the right to the information before fall elections.

The operator: "They do have the information."

Me: "No, it's not a public report yet."

The (now frustrated) operator: "They have the information because the Times and Post reported it. Once those papers get a hold of it they just do whatever they want with it."

Wanna play too? See this post.

Okay, we're already hearing from TPM Readers who've called their senators and reps about the April Iraq/Terrorism NIE.

The biggest bamboozle so far seems to be from the office of Rep. Jo Ann Davis (R-VA), which is telling constituents that the report has already been released, which hogwash of course. So her office seems to have decided to just lie to constituents.

Sens. DeWine, Warner and Allen all gives no comments.

Sen. Specter's office says he's probably against releasing the NIE to the public. But no straight answer.

But the offices of Sen. Santorum (R) and Rep. Gerlach (R) of Pennsylvania both helpfully say they'll come up with an answer in a few weeks -- which probably means after the election.

The only members of the House or the Senate so far who seem to be giving callers the time of day are the office of Sen. Voinovich (R), which is making helpful sounds but suggesting readers contact the White House directly. Sen. Nelson (D) of Florida's office is saying he'll have a statement on the issue out shortly.

(ed.note: If you don't know what we're talking about, see this post from earlier this morning.)

Rep. Biggert (R) in Illinois: no comment.

Do yourself and your country a favor this morning.

Call up your representative and senators -- Republican or Democrat, it doesn't matter -- and tell them you want the April National Intelligence Estimate ("Trends in Global Terrorism: Implications for the United States") released to the public. Now. Before the election. So the public can know what the White House has been keeping from them.

I know the title is a mouthful. So just to be clear, that is the April National Intelligence Estimate (NIE) widely reported on this weekend, which concludes that the Iraq War is making the threat of terrorism worse, not better.

This issue was knocking around on the Sunday shows yesterday, with folks like Majority Leader Frist insisting it's just not so. But I haven't seen this episode yet called for what it is -- a cover-up.

An NIE isn't some random government white paper. It represents the consensus judgment of the entire US intelligence community, with input from all the different agencies, from CIA and DIA to INR and FBI and all the others. In other words, this is the collaborative judgment of the people actually fighting the War on Terror.

For the last six weeks and, in fact, the last six months, the White House and the president have been engaged in a coordinated campaign to convince the public that despite the setbacks and mistakes, the war in Iraq is a critical component of fighting the War on Terror. Making that argument is their plan for the next six weeks until the election. All the while, they've been sitting on a report that says that's flat wrong, a lie and that precisely the opposite is the case.

That's a cover-up in every meaningful sense of the word, a calculated effort to hide information from and deceive the public. And it's actually a replay of what happened in late 2002, when the White House kept the Iraq WMD NIE's doubts about Iraqi weapons programs away from the public.

The president has made very clear he wants the next six weeks to be about Iraq and the War on Terror. By all means, let's do it. But first the president has to come clean about what he's keeping hidden from the public -- the fact that the people he has fighting the War on Terror are telling him that what he's telling the public about Iraq and the War on Terror flat isn't true.

Late word from the White House is that the Times report is "not representative of the complete document." Well, then, by all means, let's get a look at the whole thing so the public can get the big picture and find out who's telling the truth.

So pick up the phone and tell your reps and senators what you think. Then ask them whether they support releasing the April Iraq/Terrorism NIE to the public before the November election. Yes, or no. You may hear excuses that it can't be released because it's classified. But that's plain bull. Reports like this are routinely and without much difficulty released in redacted versions which remove any specific information that might reveal what intel types call 'sources and methods'.

Let us know what you hear. And in particular let us know your rep or senator's answer. Do they support releasing the NIE or not? We'll share it with the rest of our readers.

Salon ...

Three former college football teammates of Sen. George Allen say that the Virginia Republican repeatedly used an inflammatory racial epithet and demonstrated racist attitudes toward blacks during the early 1970s.

"Allen said he came to Virginia because he wanted to play football in a place where 'blacks knew their place,'" said Dr. Ken Shelton, a white radiologist in North Carolina who played tight end for the University of Virginia football team when Allen was quarterback. "He used the N-word on a regular basis back then."

A second white teammate, who spoke on the condition of anonymity because he feared retribution from the Allen campaign, separately claimed that Allen used the word "nigger" to describe blacks. "It was so common with George when he was among his white friends. This is the terminology he used," the teammate said.

A third white teammate contacted separately, who also spoke on condition of anonymity out of fear of being attacked by the Virginia senator, said he too remembers Allen using the word "nigger," though he said he could not recall a specific conversation in which Allen used the term. "My impression of him was that he was a racist," the third teammate said.

Shocked, right?

I was all ready to have some fun with David Broder when he had to take stock of the torture cave-in by the senators he was so wildly lionizing last week. But before I do that, take a look at his Sunday column. It's like he's lost his mind. He's become almost messianic in his adulation of this 'independence movement' that as far as I can tell doesn't even exist.

I know that sounds like trash talk, insult over analysis. But seriously, read the column and tell me whether you think I'm so far off the mark.

But back to the torture question. Last week the confrontation over torture and kangaroo courts was the critical turning point in the battle between the lawless Bush presidency and the 'independents', a moment with a truly "epic dimension".

By now I think it is fair to say that there is a consensus not only on both sides of the aisle but both among policy experts and political analysts that the three senators caved. Perhaps not abjectly, though I would argue they did. But President Bush got what he needed on this epic question of "both constitutional and international law."

With all that gushing I was more than a little eager to see what Broder made of the come-down.

But he seems to have decided that brevity is the soul of wisdom. Or rather, sub-brevity.

He doesn't mention it at all. The word 'torture', the whole topic, go wholly unmentioned in the Dean's second paean to independence. Epic last week, old hat this week.

How can we think that there's anything more here than a long twilight struggle to make politics safe for those willing to stand up for and cater to insiderism?

Sound and fury, David.

TPM Reader SS writes in to tell me he's skeptical about reports of OBL's death.

Yeah, me too.

To put a slightly different spin on the jargon of the rule of law debate we're having in this country: show me the body.

You do remember how OBL had kidney disease, right? And how he had kidney failure? And at one point he even died of kidney failure before he got better and turned out not to have any kidney disease at all.

Given how many interested parties have stuff to gain by stoking these tales, like I said: show me the body.

Have your own thoughts? We're discussing it over in this thread at TPMCafe.

Lovely. The Swift Boat 2.0 Group set up by Texas GOP moneyman Bob Perry is now suing the state of Indiana for infringing on the group's constitutional right to bombard the state's residents with smear-laden push-polls. Actually, to be precise, the robo-call chop shop they hired to do the push-polls -- the oddly named -- is suing on their behalf. It's, well, all very complicated.