ThinkFast AM: June 6, 2006

The Defense Department’s quarterly report to Congress on Iraq claims the “Iraqis have confidence the new Baghdad government will improve the situation.” But the poll the Pentagon used to prove this point “is described as a ‘nationwide survey’ with no explanation of who was polled and how.”

The Supreme Court has agreed to rule on two cases that will determine the role of affirmative action in elementary and secondary schools, a move that could ultimately “spell the end of official efforts to maintain racial integration in U.S. public schools.” “It’s bad news for desegregation advocates,” said Goodwin Liu of the University of California at Berkeley. “It looks like the more conservative justices see they have a fifth vote to reverse these cases.”

“A lawyer for terror suspect Jose Padilla has filed a motion to suppress evidence” he claims the FBI obtained illegally from two sources, one of whom was allegedly tortured after U.S. rendition. The informant, a Pakistani, says he was hung by leather straps in his cell and “tortured by means of a razor being used to make incisions on his chest and his genitals.”

Nearly 1,400 Iraqi civilians were killed across Baghdad in May, the largest number of deaths in one month since the U.S.-led invasion three years ago.

The U.S. military has cut the number of Iraqi civilians killed at checkpoints or shot by U.S. convoys to about one a week today from about seven a week in July. The statistics indicate hundreds of Iraqi civilians were killed at checkpoints or on Iraqi highways during the first two years of the war, a period when statistics were not recorded. The killings are “are almost always the result of mistakes.”

While the Senate debates a gay marriage amendment and Paris Hilton Tax repeal, Congress has yet to approve funds for spending in Iraq and the Gulf Coast. “This supplemental [spending bill] went up in February,” said Pentagon spokesman Bryan Whitman. “It’s now June.” Because of the delay, “the Army will impose a civilian hiring freeze Tuesday and has cut spending on spare parts, transportation and travel.”

U.S. officials fear a domestic terror attack is likely before the end of the year, as activity by “homegrown” cells is increasing. “The next attack here, officials predict, will bear no resemblance to Sept. 11. The casualty toll will not be that high, the target probably not that big.”

California State Attorney General Bill Lockyear “has begun hauling the CEOs of major oil companies into his office – demanding, in closed door sessions, that those executives tell him, under oath, why gas prices are higher in California than almost anywhere else in the nation.”

The Security and Peace Initiative (SPI), which is co-sponsored by the Center for American Progress, is hosting a major foreign policy conference today in New York called “Power and Superpower: Global Leadership for the 21st Century.” Democracy Arsenal, the official SPI blog, will be live-blogging the event all day.

And finally: When asked by a reporter if he would see Al Gore’s global warming documentary, “An Inconvenient Truth,” Jeb Bush said, “No, I’m not going to be doing that.” (He did see the latest X-Men movie, which he described as “excellent.”)

What did we miss? Let us know in the comments section.