ThinkFast: September 25, 2006

In an “unprecedented” move, Army chief of staff Peter Schoomaker signaled his dismay over the Army’s lack of funding by withholding a “required 2008 budget plan from Pentagon leaders last month.” Without significant troop withdrawals from Iraq, the Army does not believe it can maintain its current level of activity “without billions in additional funding.”

Do-Nothing Congress update. Much is left undone with only one week to go before Congress recesses for the November elections. “At best, it appears that just 2 of the 11 required spending bills will pass, and not one has been approved so far, forcing a stopgap measure to keep the federal government open. No budget was enacted.” Rep. Jack Kingston (R-GA) said, “We have not accomplished what we need to accomplish.”

Sen. Arlen Specter (R-PA) indicated that he vigorously disagrees with the “compromise” bill on military tribunals struck last week. He took issue with a provision that would limit legal counsel and a day in court to only those detainees selected by the Pentagon for prosecution.

Sen. John McCain (R-AZ) yesterday named several specific techniques — extreme sleep deprivation, forced hypothermia and waterboarding — that he says would be banned under his “compromise” bill on detainee policy. Sen. Bill Frist (R-TN) said McCain’s disclosure “helps the terrorists.”

The Democratic Policy Committee will hold a hearing today on the planning and conduct of the Iraq war, taking the testimony of retired generals who have criticized Rumsfeld. Maj. Gen. Paul Eaton is expected to assess Rumsfeld as “incompetent strategically, operationally and tactically.” Despite his numerous failures, Rumsfeld is expected to soon become the longest-serving Secretary of Defense.

Liberal bloggers in New Hampshire busted an aide to Rep. Charles Bass (R-N.H.) who was posing as a liberal blogger on such blogs as Blue Granite, NH-02 Progressive and others.” Bass’s office said the staffer would be “appropriately disciplined.”

Wal-Mart is going green. The discount retailer has launched an “aggressive program to encourage ‘sustainability’ of the world’s fisheries, forests and farmlands, to slash energy use and reduce waste, [and] to push its 60,000 suppliers to produce goods that don’t harm the environment.” Scott Burns of the World Wildlife Fund said, “They’re sending a very powerful signal that already is having effects on the way people produce products for them.”

Iraq moved a step closer to federalism as its parliament agreed Sunday “to consider amending the constitution and debate a bill establishing a federal state.”

Safia Amajan, a leading Afghan official working on women’s rights, has been killed. The BBC reports, “She may have been targeted by Taleban militants because of their opposition to women taking part in politics and education.”

And finally: Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld plays hardball on the squash court. “He hits the ball well, but he doesn’t play by the rules,” said a fellow squash player and Pentagon employee. Rumsfeld has also suggested that “his ideas about transforming the military…were influenced by his squash playing.”

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