Tuesday, January 29, 2008

ThinkFast: January 29, 2008


Scott Bloch, head of the U.S. Office of Special Counsel, wrote Attorney General Michael B. Mukasey last week, claiming that the Justice Department had repeatedly “impeded” his investigation of the politicization of the department under Alberto Gonzales “by refusing to share documents and provide answers to written questions.”

Former Director of National Intelligence John Negroponte said the United States used waterboarding in terrorism interrogations but no longer does. In prepared remarks for Congress that he will deliver today, Attorney General Michael Mukasey avoids addressing the issue of waterboarding.

In January, there were “twice as many combat casualties” in Iraq “than there were in all of December 2007,” according to analysis from Cybercast News Service. There have been 28 deaths through Jan. 28 in comparison with 14 in December.

The Bush administration’s use of the state secrets privilege to avoid disclosure of classified information in civil lawsuits in increasing, prompting legislation that would provide more congressional oversight of the practice. Rep. Jerold Nadler (D-NY) will hold a hearing on the issue today.

After failing to force the passage of a White House bill, Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) relented yesterday “and said he would offer a short-term extension of an anti-terror surveillance law, set to expire this week.” Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) has sought such an extension, but President Bush issued a veto threat.

Some 9/11 responders were on-hand last night to listen to Bush’s State of the Union. “I’m fed up with how we’re treated,” said said Queens paramedic Marvin Bethea. Ground Zero volunteer John Feal added, “You got $3 billion a month to kill people, uou got $3 billion a year for health care.”

A new report by the Special Inspector General for Iraq Reconstruction found that eight of 11 rebuilding projects assigned to embattled American contracting company Parsons “were terminated by the United States before they were completed.”

Democrats were “elated” last night to listen to President Bush’s final State of the Union speech. “I think everybody is ready to turn the page,” said Rep. Mark Udall (D-CO). “Next year we’ll have a different president, which I look forward to,” added Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV).

Senate Finance Committee Chairman Max Baucus (D-MT) “unveiled a rival plan to stimulate the economy, offering a $500 check to virtually every American — including low-income seniors and rich financiers — in a direct challenge to the bipartisan deal reached last week by President Bush and House leaders.”

And finally: In their “by the numbers” breakdown of the State of the Union, Jeff Dufour and Patrick Gavin note that there were 71 rounds of applause last night. Among the highlights: two Democratic claps against Bush, 3 rounds of laughter with Bush, 1 Democratic chuckle at Bush, and 1 Democratic hiss.

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