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ThinkFast: December 4, 2007

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"ThinkFast: December 4, 2007"

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When intelligence analysts briefed Bush administration officials on Iran in July, the officials refused to believe that Iran had stopped its weapons program. They “expressed skepticism” about an intercept from “a senior Iranian military official” complaining “that the nuclear program had been shuttered,” believing it was “part of a clever Iranian deception campaign.”

The IAEA says that the new NIE on Iran’s halted nuclear weapons program is “validation of its own long-standing conclusion that there is ‘no evidence‘ of an undeclared nuclear program in Iran.” Glenn Greenwald notes that the IAEA has long been attacked for its conclusions.

Israel publicly challenged the U.S. intelligence consensus that Iran had stopped its nuclear weapons program. “It’s apparently true that in 2003 Iran stopped pursuing its military nuclear program for a time. But in our opinion, since then it has apparently continued that program,” Israeli defense minister Ehud Barak told army radio.

Iran welcomed the U.S. intelligence report and said it was becoming clear the Islamic republic’s plans were peaceful. Manouchehr Mottaki, the Iranian foreign minister, “The condition of Iran’s peaceful nuclear activities is becoming clear to the world.”

“Fifty-two percent of Americans say the economy and health care are most important to them in choosing a president, compared with 34% who cite terrorism and social and moral issues, according to the latest Wall Street Journal/NBC News poll. That is the reverse of the percentages recorded just before the 2004 election.”

20 percent: Number of Americans who are unable to afford health care, according to a report by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Two senior Republican appropriators in the Senate — Sen. Thad Cochran (R-MS) and Sen. Ted Stevens (R-AK) — “have collected more money in earmarks than any other members of Congress.” In the words of one GOP aide, they are “not only the kings of pork, they’re outright hogs.”

U.S. officials in Afghanistan say they “now were considering providing arms to local tribes in Afghanistan, along with training, equipment and other support,” as violence rises in Afghanistan. The effort would be modeled after “efforts in Iraq to empower the locals to police their own neighborhoods.”

A report by the Government Accountability Office said the Defense Department and top military officials including Gen. David Petraeus have sought to show progress in Iraq by citing numbers of Iraqi Security Force units deemed “independent.” “But it is unclear how the Pentagon and its officials have reached those conclusions.”

And finally: Steve Martin and Dan Akroyd famously played “playboy Czech brothers who called themselves ‘two wild and crazy guys‘” in a famous Saturday Night live skit. In a video greeting the Kennedy Center Honors recipients, which included Martin, Bush “said he hoped that Martin and Cheney would have a chance to meet that evening. ‘It’s about time those two wild and crazy guys got together,’ the president joked.”

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