ThinkFast: September 6, 2006

Bush said yesterday, “America makes no distinction between those who commit acts of terror, and those that harbor and support them, because they’re equally guilty of murder.” Meanwhile, a Pakistani general said bin Laden “would not be taken into custody” as long as he agreed to live like a “peaceful citizen.” (Pakistan denies the ABC report.)

The Pentagon’s new Army field manual “provides Geneva Convention protections for all detainees and eliminates a secret list of interrogation tactics.” The manual bans several controversial techniques: “forcing prisoners to endure long periods of solitary confinement, using military dogs to threaten prisoners, putting hoods over inmates’ heads” and waterboarding.

“On the eve of his first trip to Washington, former Iranian president Mohammad Khatami warned that U.S. military action in the Middle East has backfired, producing greater terrorism, imperiling the future of Iraq and damaging America’s long-term interests.”

A digital divide still separates whites and minorities. Sixty-seven percent of white students use the Internet, compared with just 44 percent of black students and 47 percent of Hispanic students.

Iraqis are changing their names to protect themselves. “The country’s Sunni-Shiite bloodletting is driving many Iraqis to bury the very essence of their identity: their names. … [W]ith sectarian violence surging, Iraqis fear that the name on an identification card, passport or other document could become an instant death sentence if seen by the wrong people.”

Iraq’s parliament yesterday voted to extend by a month a nationwide state of emergency. “The state of emergency has been extended several times since it was first imposed in 2004” and there “has been no serious move to roll it back.”

Despite an effort by House and Senate Republicans “to focus congressional attention almost exclusively on national security” ahead of the November elections, they are “splintering” over possible legislation to officially sanction the NSA’s warrantless wiretapping program.

Outsourcing military recruiting: The Army is increasingly hiring private companies to recruit enlistees. “The use of contractors for this sensitive purpose, dealing with the lives of young people, is troublesome,” said Rep. Janice D. Schakowsky (D-IL).

Senate makes time for the Paris Hilton Tax Cut. Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist (R-TN) said he may bring up the “trifecta” bill, which ties a minimum wage hike to tax cuts for millionaires, before the end of the month.

And finally: Lynn Swann doesn’t take trash talk from clowns. At an Allentown Fair dunk tank, the former Pittsburgh Steelers star — and candidate for Pennsylvania governor — failed to send a “mouthy” clown into the water. “I hope you do better at the polls, buddy,” the clown joked. “That did it. Swann, who had turned to leave, went back to the tank, throwing ball after ball until he hit the target. As the clown dropped into the water, Swann stuck his fists in the air, beaming in triumph.”

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