Josh Marshall

Josh Marshall is editor and publisher of TalkingPointsMemo.com.

Articles by Josh

I almost missed this brief, crisp critique of the administration's Iraq policy by Jacob Weisberg. Glad I didn't.

It all reminds me of what one of my best military sources for my first Iraq article kept coming back to, a phrase drilled into all Army officers: Hope is not a plan.

Department of revealing <$NoAd$>projection ...

The United States [i.e., the Bush administration] is deeply frustrated with its hand-picked council members because they have spent more time on their own political or economic interests than in planning for Iraq's political future.

From today's Washington Post on the US rethinking the Interim Governing Council.

Of course, one can project but also be on to something.

See this clip from Tom Friedman's column on Thursday ...

The reason this happened is that the U.S.-appointed Iraqi Governing Council, which is supposed to come up with a plan for forming the constitution-writing committee, is becoming dysfunctional. Several key G.C. members, particularly the Pentagon's favorite son, Ahmad Chalabi, have been absent from Iraq for weeks. Only seven or eight of the 24 G.C. members show up at meetings anymore.

Where's Ahmed? My neocon friend and I came up with a short list of Washington, London or Tehran. But who knows?

The meme at last seems to <$Ad$>be taking flight.

For more than a year I've argued that the Office of the Vice President operates in the Bush White House as a sort of rogue operation, free from the bureaucratic and organizational constraints and responsibilities imposed on the normal agencies and departments of the executive branch.

(Also, almost everything Cheney touches goes bad.)

This from the new 'how Cheney sold us the Iraq war' piece in Newsweek ...

Cheney has long been regarded as a Washington wise man. He has a dry, deliberate manner; a penetrating, if somewhat wintry, wit, and a historian’s long-view sensibility. He is far to the right politically, but in no way wild-eyed; in private conversation he seems moderate, thoughtful, cautious. Yet when it comes to terrorist plots, he seems to have given credence to the views of some fairly flaky ideologues and charlatans.

And this ...

Nonetheless, it appears that Cheney has been susceptible to “cherry-picking,” embracing those snippets of intelligence that support his dark prognosis while discarding others that don’t. He is widely regarded in the intelligence community as an outlier, as a man who always goes for the worst-case —scenario and sometimes overlooks less alarming or at least ambiguous signs. Top intelligence officials reject the suggestion that Cheney has somehow bullied lower-level CIA or Defense Intelligence Agency analysts into telling him what he wants to hear. But they do describe the Office of the Vice President, with its large and assertive staff, as a kind of free-floating power base that at times brushes aside the normal policymaking machinery under national-security adviser Condoleezza Rice. On the road to war, Cheney in effect created a parallel government that became the real power center.

Compare this name-brand product to the lower-cost generic versions from September 2002 and January 2003.

One other thing: It's become conventional wisdom that the Pentagon, or rather the civilians at the Pentagon, muscled out the State Department on key issues of planning for Iraq. My recent reporting tells me it's much more a matter of Cheney and the Office of the Vice President. Much more.

Sullivanus Laughibalis. I’d heard that Andrew Sullivan was preparing a “counterblast” to my recent writings on the ‘imminent threat’ ridiculousness. Well, now it’s up. And you can see it here: "Marshall Comes Up Empty".

Most revealing nugget: Sullivan found the direct quotations chosen by TPM readers so weak, skewerable, and unconvincing that he fails to quote, mention or even make reference to any of them.

Imagine that.

(Also note the funny-business with the Rumsfeld quote.)

Do you reap what you sow?

From Dick Cheney on the hustings on Friday ...

In Iraq, a ruthless dictator cultivated weapons of mass destruction and the means to deliver them. He gave support to terrorists, had an established relationship with al Qaeda -- and his regime is no more. (italics added)

One can only imagine where they're going with this one.

The Republicans are puffing themselves up with a lot of mock outrage over this Democratic draft memo. And the White House is about to get into the act too.

I’ve got an idea, a proposal, shall we say, that I’m going to float on behalf of the Democrats to get us past all this acrimony and suspicion.

The Democrats will turn over all their memos and work product on everything to do with intelligence and investigations into intelligence. Everything back to September 1st, 2001.

And I mean everything --- every staff memo, every planning memo, minutes from brainstorming sessions, memos from each senator's staff, communications with the White House and the CIA, and planning and strategizing with regards to both. All the work product. Everything. They’ll package it all together and give one copy to the majority and one copy to the White House.

In exchange, the majority will hand over the same range of documents to the minority and the White House.

And the White House and the rest of the national security-related departments and agencies in the executive branch will hand over the same to the majority and the minority in the Senate.


"The U.S. military swept through Iraqi neighborhoods early Saturday, firing at houses suspected to be harboring hostile forces in the wake of an apparent attack on a Black Hawk helicopter that killed six U.S. soldiers."

That's the lede of a piece Fox News is running on the aftermath of today's helicopter downing.

We all know how this works.

Two guys walk into a ring for a fight. One knows he’s about to get creamed. But he can’t bear the shame and humiliation of walking away from a fight. So at the very last moment he whips out some phony claim that the other guy’s cheating.

He puffs himself up with forced indignation. And huffily storms off.

Everybody knows it was bogus --- the accused, the accuser, everyone else. But it gives the coward just enough of an angle, just enough of a smokescreen to get out of the place without having a glove laid on him and with a bit of his dignity intact.

This is of course more or less exactly what the Republicans are doing with the hullabaloo over this unsent Democratic staff memo.

Precisely the same.

(The actual memo bears reading because, though Jay Rockefeller has said he never authorized it and it was never sent, it's much more tame than the hyper-ventilating coverage would suggest. The 'plot' is essentially a plot to have a real investigation.)

As I said in this earlier post, the Republicans are trying to use this memo ridiculousness to shut down any scrutiny of the intelligence related bad-acts in the lead-up to the war.

And they’re already starting. According to Newsmax, Newt Gingrich said yesterday that the president should refuse to cooperate with the committee altogether.

“I don't see how the White House can cooperate with an intelligence committee which has this level of partisanship,” he told Sean Hannity on Thursday.

See where they’re going with this?