ThinkFast: September 21, 2006

Attorney General Gonzales defended U.S. actions that led to a Canadian citizen being falsely imprisoned, rendered to Syria, and tortured. “Well, we were not responsible for his removal to Syria,” Gonzales said. “I’m not aware that he was tortured.” In an “embarrassing turnabout,” a Justice Dept. official later “backed away” from Gonzales’ remarks.

“The number of civilians slain in Iraq reached an unprecedented level in July and August, which saw 6,599 violent deaths,” a new U.N. report shows. Researchers also noted “the growth of sectarian militias and death squads, and a rise in ‘honor killings’ of women.”

25: Percentage of Americans who approve of the job Congress is doing. “[M]ost said they could not name a single major piece of legislation that cleared this Congress.”

Rep. Bob Ney (R-OH), who has pled guilty to selling his votes for tens of thousands of dollars, “will be eligible to receive his congressional pension after he serves his prison sentence.” Congress has failed to pass a measure proposed this summer to deny pensions to members convicted of a felony.

“Despite the firm opposition of the Pentagon and ecumenical chaplain groups,” right-wing members of Congress are trying to include a provision in a defense spending bill that would “license zealot chaplains to violate policies of religious tolerance at secular ceremonies.”

“An Army of None”: Senior Army and Marine Corps officers are warning “that without a reduction in Iraq, the present schedule of combat tours would be difficult to sustain without an increase in the number of forces.” “You can start seeing the [effect of deployments] on the leadership of the active force,” one official said.

CIA officials say President Bush had to empty the agency’s secret prison network this month “because interrogators had refused to continue their work until the legal situation was clarified because they were concerned they could be prosecuted for using illegal techniques.”

“Four government auditors who monitor leases for oil and gas on federal property say the Interior Department suppressed their efforts” to recover more than $30 million from energy companies they said were cheating the government.

And finally: Everyone’s a critic, including the FBI. A new documentary reveals FBI informants who conducted extensive surveillance on John Lennon often took notes on the “artistic merits” of his new music. “Lacking Lennon’s usual standards,” one agent reported. “Yoko can’t even remain on key.

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