Josh Marshall

Josh Marshall is editor and publisher of TalkingPointsMemo.com.

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TPM Reader BS chimes in on the president calling in the troops: "Just read your morning post about the National Guard and JB’s clever response. It’s obvious I’m sure, but I think the exit strategy is directly tied to exit polls. In other words, the Guard deployment is temporary because they will be brought home sometime in early November 2006. Just as the orange terror alerts in NYC and Washington amazingly disappeared after November 2004. The National Guard is being called in to deal with a political emergency."

I don't know if other news outlets are picking this up or if ABC's Brian Ross is going to do a follow-up to put more flesh on the story. But far and away the most important story out there right now is Ross's report that claims that the administration is scrutinizing journalists' phone records to find out who their sources are.

Only a major news organization will have the clout to do it. But someone needs to run this to ground, either to find out more details or to disprove it. If it's true, it puts us a big notch further down the creeping police state road. And we already passed the toll booth a while ago.

If anybody sees press follow-ups on this or knows anything more about it, please contact me.

Late Update: I'm told there's going to be more on this story tonight on ABC World News Tonight.

TPM Reader JB checks in ...

"The White House is now saying the troops would only be temporary. But temporary until when? I guess just until there aren't any more illegals trying to come across the border from Latin America."

In other words, you're suggesting the White House doesn't have an exit strategy from getting the troops out of ... our own country?

Sounds about right.

I guess it's time once again to restate our policy on paid advertisements. We do not accept or reject ads based on their political content. It's as simple as that. And it's a good policy. For more details, see our original statement of the policy from November 2003 and our restatement of the policy from October 2004.

So I guess the sacking of Porter Goss had nothing to do with Hookergate.

From Newsweek ...

Foggo's troubles may help to explain Porter Goss's sudden departure from the agency earlier this month. According to sources close to Goss and the White House, who would not be named talking about private conversations, administration officials had been pressuring Goss to get rid of Foggo. But Goss resisted. It was a risky stand to take. For months, former and current intel officials had privately complained to the White House that the CIA was suffering under Goss's poor management. Goss's resistance to firing Foggo, despite the investigation closing in on him, made top administration officials, including National Intelligence Director John Negroponte, lose faith in Goss's judgment.

This was obvious on day one, notwithstanding the 'turf war' spin. That's not to say they're aren't struggles over power and institutional precedence in the IC. But Goss went down because of Foggo's role in Hookergate and the Wilkes-Cunningham investigation.

Isn't this the other shoe dropping?

The piece is written in a roundabout sort of way. But if I understand it, Brian Ross is reporting at ABC news that the US government is tracking the calling patterns of political reporters to further their leak investigations.

If that's true, then I think we can set aside any pretense that administration policy on all manner of electronic surveillance isn't being brought to bear on political opponents, media critics, the press, everybody.

I think part of the issue for many people on the administration's various forms of surveillance is not just that some of activities seem to be illegal or unconstitutional on their face. I think many people are probably willing to be open-minded, for better or worse, on pushing the constitutional envelope. But given the people in charge of the executive branch today, you just can't have any confidence that these tools will be restricted to targeting terrorists. Start grabbing up phone records to data-mine for terrorists and then the tools are just too tempting for your leak investigations. Once you do that, why not just keep an eye on your critics too? After all, they're the ones most likely to get the leaks, right? So, same difference. The folks around the president don't recognize any real distinctions among those they consider enemies. So we'd be foolish to think they wouldn't bring these tools to bear on all of them. Once you set aside the law as your guide for action and view the president's will as a source of legitimacy in itself, then everything becomes possible and justifiable.

I guess I'm going to have to write something about the president's -- what is it, the 35th televised prime time address in the last year or so? -- speech on immigration Monday night. But all I can make of this plan to help guard the border with soldiers is that it's one more example that there is simply no gambit too craven or silly for this president not to resort to it.

My reading and reporting attention hasn't been focused on the immigration debate. But am I wrong to think that the president simply couldn't square the circle between the corporate cheap-labor forces who fund his campaigns and the cultural conservatives who supply his voters? Growing out of that failure, this 'militarize the border' hokum is the policy announcement equalivent of crawling under his desk and screaming "Help!"

Shazam! Wonder twin powers ... anything. It's like a primal scream.

The White House is now saying the troops would only be temporary. But temporary until when? I guess just until there aren't any more illegals trying to come across the border from Latin America.

And why are soldiers -- national guard or regular army -- better at managing border patrol than, well, border patrol? In part this is like it was during Katrina -- the president's inability to get anything to work by the normal civilian means leads him to claim that the problem is that there's not a big enough role for the military. But perhaps the truth here is that bringing in the military is the only way his advisors can think of to create an illusion of decisiveness and power in his current state of political impotence.

Mocking this stunt gives it too much credit. I think Atrios is right when he says that this idea is so stupid that it's unlikely there's really even a plan to do it. Just an gimmick to help the president get through whatever new bad news is about to pop.

Andrew Sullivan just published an email from a reader who says it'll be Al Gore in 2008 for the Democrats, not Hillary. I could see it. I could totally see it.

I don't think Hillary is anywhere near as strong as she looks or as people seem to think she is. And Gore would be formidable.


From Isikoff ...

The role of Vice President Dick Cheney in the criminal case stemming from the outing of White House critic Joseph Wilson's CIA wife is likely to get fresh attention as a result of newly disclosed notes showing that Cheney personally asked whether Wilson had been sent by his wife on a "junket" to Africa.

Cheney's notes, written on the margins of a July 6, 2003 New York Times op-ed column by former ambassador Joseph Wilson, were included as part of a filing Friday night by prosecutor Patrick Fitzgerald in the perjury and obstruction case against ex-Cheney chief of staff I. Lewis "Scooter" Libby.

The notes, Fitzgerald said in his filing, show that Cheney and Libby were "acutely focused" on the Wilson column and on rebutting his criticisms of the White House's handling of pre-Iraq war intelligence.


In the margins of the op-ed, Cheney jotted out a series of questions that seemed to challenge many of Wilson's assertions as well as the legitimacy of his CIA sponsored trip to Africa: "Have they done this sort of thing before? Send an Amb. [sic] to answer a question? Do we ordinarily send people out pro bono to work for us? Or did his wife send him on a junket?"

Puts Cheney right in the center of it. No doubt, directing the whole effort, which many of us have long suspected. Right there down to the ridiculousness of his 'wife send[ing] him on a junket'. Did he come up with it? Was he the first one to slip that slop into the rightwing media stream?

Late Update: You can see a copy of Cheney's scribblings here.