ThinkFast: July 12, 2007

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"ThinkFast: July 12, 2007"

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Last November, CIA Director Michael Hayden told the Iraq Study Group in a private briefing that the “inability of the [Iraqi] government to govern seems irreversible.” In the eight months since, “neither Hayden nor any other high-ranking administration official has publicly described the Iraqi government in the uniformly negative terms that the CIA director used in his closed-door briefing.”

“A previously undisclosed Army investigation into an audacious January attack in Karbala that killed five U.S. soldiers concludes that Iraqi police working alongside American troops colluded with insurgents.”

“Undercover Congressional investigators set up a bogus company and obtained a license from the Nuclear Regulatory Commission in March that would have allowed them to buy the radioactive materials needed for a so-called dirty bomb,” demonstrating once again that the security measures “to prevent radioactive materials from getting into the wrong hands are insufficient.”

If “current greenhouse gas emission patterns worldwide continue unabated,” summers in the Northeast could be six to 14 degrees warmer and “cities such as Boston, Atlantic City and New York would be regularly subject to disastrous flooding,” according to a new report.

Some conservatives are rallying behind a weak amendment offered by Sen. Ken Salazar (D-CO) to implement the Iraq Study Group recommendations, rather than set a deadline for withdrawal. Sen. Harry Reid (D-NV) derided the proposal as having “less teeth than a toothless tiger. It won’t change one thing the president does.”

The White House is resisting a congressional effort to commission “independent assessments to rival the upcoming Sept. 15 reports by Gen. David H. Petraeus and Ambassador Ryan C. Crocker.” If you had a serious illness, you would want a second opinion. We are at war. You want to have the best minds looking at a problem,” said Rep. Frank R. Wolf (R-VA).

For thousands of Gulf Coast evacuees, “going home to New Orleans has become a vague and receding dream. Living in bleak circumstances, they cannot afford to go back, or have nothing to go back to. Over the two years since Hurricane Katrina hit, the shock of evacuation has hardened into the grim limbo of exile. ‘We in storage,’ said Ann Picard, 49, … ‘We just in storage.‘”

Yesterday, former White House political director Sara Taylor used a letter from White House counsel Fred Fielding barring her from speaking about certain White House activities “like a shield.” She “invoked Fielding’s name 24 times” and mentioned the letter 35 times: “I have a very clear letter from Mr. Fielding. … Again, I have a letter.”

“The political price of sticking by an embattled Alberto Gonzales is getting higher for President Bush.” The Wall Street Journal notes new intelligence laws have not been passed because lawmakers believe Gonzales “misled them about a separate surveillance program.” Also, “Gonzales was sidelined during the recent immigration debate,” and there has been little movement to replace a half-dozen senior Justice Department officials, some of whom need Senate confirmation.

And finally: The ladies who run the exclusive snack bar for the Democratic members of the House have been praised by Rep. John Dingell (D-MI) for “their ability to deal with ‘some 200 prima donnas.'” For example, Rep. Ed Markey (D-MA) “quietly holds up one finger or two, depending on how many slices of bread he wants with his peanut butter. ‘You never close the bread,’ notes one of the ladies.” “We know what kind of day it’s going to be by the first order,” explained Ella Louise Terry.

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