Josh Marshall

Josh Marshall is editor and publisher of

Articles by Josh

When I look at the federal investigation being launched into the Janet Jackson boob incident, I realize what I like about this administration: they believe in accountability.

And speaking of accountability, the signs from the president's 'independent' inquiry aren't looking too good either.

According to this article on the front page of today's Post (I've started reading the paper paper again) the president seems inclined to take full advantage of his self-appointed power to appoint all the members of the commission (safe Dems, Republican ringers and militant Iraq hawks). And while there's no mention that the panel will be given any brief to look at White House's use of intelligence data, it will be instructed to look at CIA's intelligence shortcomings on Iran, North Korea, Libya and India -- perhaps they'll take another look at that whole Pearl Harbor thing too.

When we actually eyeball the executive order I fully expect we'll see it contains instructions to get to the bottom of why Joe Wilson has been making so many press appearances.

This commission may not quite fail the laugh test. But, boy, is it lousy with giggles. When do some of the press bigs call out this Potemkin Panel for the joke that it seems likely to be?

If these exit poll numbers from hold up, John Kerry is set to have some smashing victories tonight. But John Edwards may have some life left in him after all.

Why didn't this get reported more widely? And is it related to what happened yesterday on the Hill?

From a January 9th report from CBS and the AP ...

The FBI on Thursday offered a reward of up to $100,000 for information leading to an arrest of anyone responsible for leaving a package containing the deadly poison ricin at a post office in October.

A letter inside the package said the author could make much more ricin and will "start dumping" large quantities of the poison if new federal trucking rules went in effect, according to information released by the FBI and other federal agencies Thursday.

The letter, which was found at a post office in South Carolina, was signed "fallen angel" and the sender identified himself as "a fleet owner of a tanker company."

A nice little detail about the quality of the numbers in the new budget.

This from Knight Ridder ...

Noticeably absent from next year's [budget] request is money for military operations in Iraq and Afghanistan. White House budget director Joshua Bolten estimated that another $50 billion would be needed to cover those costs next year. The White House expects to cover the war costs with supplemental funds after next fall's elections.

And why isn't that fifty billion included in the deficit number?

Finally the Democrats start getting a sense of how this works. After various Democratic candidates and their surrogates have pressed the issue of the president's blowing off his military service in the early 1970s, The Washington Post puts together a piece reviewing what we know about the president's time in the Texas Air National Guard.

The Post piece bends over backwards to give plenty of benefits of the doubt. But it makes clear that the president jumped to the head of the line to get into the Guard because of political connections. And then, after he'd been given a comparatively easy way to get out of getting shot at or killed in Vietnam, he proceeded to blow off his service for substantial periods of time while in the Guard.

The Post points out that there is no definitive proof of Bush's non-attendance. But there is an utter lack of any documentation for his showing up for service and the officer he was supposed to report to during the key period in question continues to insist that he never laid eyes on him.

In the president's defense are a) the president's word, b) the memory of some friends who say "they recalled Bush leaving for Guard duty on occasion", and c) the fact that the aforementioned officer, when contacted yesterday by the Post, couldn't specifically remember how often he was on the base at the time.

I strongly recommend reading the article because there are various ins-and-outs that I've just summarized here. And the details are important. But the long and the short of it is that all the strong evidence points to the conclusion that the president blew off a lot of his service in the Guard, while there's enough flimsy and self-serving evidence to believe that he might have actually been there if you really, really, really want to believe he did.

A couple weeks shy of turning thirty-five myself, I'm old enough to understand that the president was pretty much a kid when at least some of this stuff happened -- 22 when he signed up. But if the president is going to run this campaign covering himself in martial glory then this stuff is more than fair game -- especially if he's not coming clean about it.

And the probable Democratic nominee was a kid too -- and he took a different path.

Sometimes you're left zigging when word comes down from <$NoAd$> headquarters that it's time to zag.

Here's a clip from the liner notes of Bush vs. the Beltway: How the CIA and the State Department Tried to Stop the War on Terror by Laurie Mylroie, chief ideologist and intel maven of the Iraq hawks ...

Combining important new research with an insider's grasp of Beltway politics, Mylroie describes how the CIA and the State Department have systematically discredited critical intelligence about Saddam's regime, including indisputable evidence of its possession of weapons of mass destruction. She reveals how major elements of the case against Iraq -- including information about possible links to al Qaeda and evidence of potential Iraqi involvement in the fall 2001 anthrax attacks -- were prematurely dismissed by these agencies for cynical reasons.

The Agency made them do it? Let's get our stories straight, shall we?

David Brooks' column in tomorrow's Times has a more nuanced and literary version of the 'CIA sold the president a bill of goods' line.

What we need, says Brooks, isn't less nudging and hammering from politicians, but more. Game-theory, bureaucratic thinking, and hyper-rationalism aren't the answer to the nimble, quick-on-its-feet, lickety-split irrationalism and nihilist violence of the early 21st century terrorist threat.

There's probably a lot of truth in that (though if you read histories of the early CIA you'll see that quite a number of the luminaries were, shall we say, more than a bit in touch with the irrational.)

But I don't know how Brooks gets past the fact that these politicians were pushing for conclusions (and putting them in the president's speeches) three or four times more erroneous than those offered up by the latter-day Von Neumanns at Langley.

And, after reading his column, I don't think Brooks does either.

A question. Going back over the last decade, name me the Democratic president, presidential nominee, or primary frontrunner whom my friend Mickey Kaus has not diagnosed with a ‘character problem’?

A pearl. Lapidary. As Churchill might have said, hypocrisy wrapped in mendacity, bundled up in ridiculousness. A true gem. Richard Perle tells the Times that the CIA did indeed sell the president a bill of goods. “The president is a consumer of intelligence, not a producer of it," Perle told the Times. "I have long thought our intelligence in the gulf has been woefully inadequate."

Right. Perle has long been a staunch critic of the CIA. His argument was that they understated the scope of Saddam’s WMD programs, naively discounted his ties to terrorist organizations and had an overly pessimistic vision of post-war Iraq.

In other words, if the CIA is all wet, Perle is all wet squared. Or probably even cubed.

The skeptical voices in the Intelligence Community --- the ones who are now vindicated in spades --- were the objects of his greatest derision. And his solution was to give even more credence to the unreliable defector testimony which played such a key role in our bamboozlement.