ThinkFast: September 29, 2006

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"ThinkFast: September 29, 2006"

The White House ignored an urgent warning in September 2003 from a top Iraq adviser who said that thousands of additional American troops were desperately needed to quell the insurgency there,” according to Bob Woodward’s new book.

Woodward also claims “Bush’s top advisers were often at odds among themselves, and sometimes were barely on speaking terms,” and that Bush said as recently as November 2003, “I don’t want anyone in the cabinet to say it is an insurgency. I don’t think we are there yet.”

Kazakh President Nursultan Nazarbayev, the authoritarian Central Asian ruler who has cracked down on human rights and quashed other political freedoms in his country, will meet with President Bush at the White House today. Nazarbayev also was hosted at the Kennebunkport estate of former President George H.W. Bush. “Nazarbayev has suffered no consequences for his rejection of the democracy agenda.”

“Under a broad new set of laws criminalizing speech that ridicules the government or its officials, some resurrected verbatim from Saddam Hussein’s penal code, roughly a dozen Iraqi journalists have been charged with offending public officials in the past year.”

$16 billion: The amount Iraq has lost in potential foreign oil sales “over two years to insurgent attacks, criminals and bad equipment.” Special Inspector General for Iraq Reconstruction Stuart Bowen found “Iraq also is paying billions of dollars to import refined petroleum products it needs.”

“The Belgian-based consortium known as Swift…violated European privacy regulations when it turned over confidential transaction information to the Central Intelligence Agency and other American agencies,” Belgium’s privacy protection commission has concluded.

A federal judge ruled that “Halliburton employees working in Iraq and Kuwait are not entitled to overtime pay, even though a contract between the company and the U.S. Army called for it.” Between 20,000 and 40,000 overseas truck drivers, cooks, mechanics and others were promised the overtime pay. The ruling said “federal wage-and-hour laws don’t extend to work done outside the U.S.

Forty-one percent of National Guardsmen and reservists “raised concerns about their mental health” three to six months after combat in Iraq and Afghanistan, compared to 32 percent of active-duty soldiers. Meanwhile, a new GAO report found the Veteran Affairs Department “failed to fully spend a promised $300 million since 2005 to fill critical gaps in mental health services for returning troops and others.”

“A quarter of a million Iraqis have fled sectarian violence and registered as refugees in the past seven months, data released on Thursday showed, amid an upsurge in attacks that has accompanied the Ramadan holy month.”

And finally: The CIA has launched a wacky new online “personality quiz.”
The site asks you questions “about your favorite leisure activities” and “what super power you’d like to have,” then gives you titles like “Daring Thrill Seeker” or “Impressive Mastermind.” For example, “If you prefer shopping on Rodeo Drive and sunbathing on a yacht, that means you’re a ‘Innovative Pioneer.'” Sounds like a slam-dunk.

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

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