ThinkFast: February 14, 2008


Steven Bradbury, the acting head of the Justice Department’s Office of Legal Counsel, will testify today that, “The set of interrogation methods authorized for current use is narrower than before, and it does not today include waterboarding.” In 2005, Bradbury signed two secret legal memos that authorized the CIA to use waterboarding when questioning terror detainees.

“Rush Limbaugh, Sean Hannity and Michael Savage are the top three ‘most important’ talk radio hosts in the country, according to the annual ‘Heavy Hundred’ list released yesterday by Talkers magazine.”

Imad Mugniyah, a top Hezbollah commander that killed hundreds of Americans in the 1980s, died Tuesday night in Damascus, Syria, when a bomb detonated under the vehicle he was in. America and Israel are now preparing for the prospect of a Hezbollah counterstrike. Spencer Ackerman has more.

A new report by the Taxpayers for Common Sense states that the average House member secured $4 million in earmarks in 2007. Members of the Appropriations Committee “fetched, on average, more than five times that amount — $22 million.” Members of the Senate Appropriations averaged $88.7 million in earmarks, while non-Appropriations Members secured $10.4 million.

Rep. Jerry Lewis (R-CA), “under investigation for his ties to a lobbyist whose clients have benefited” from earmarks, defended the practice and “asked Pentagon officials to embrace some pet projects in a defense bill.” Lewis has secured $137 million in earmarks, “more than eight times the average secured by a member of Congress.”

“Waves of new Iraqi detainees” have inundated “the country‘s already overburdened prisons and courts” since the U.S. troop increase last year, American officials say. Iraq’s “justice system does not have enough prison beds, investigative judges or lawyers to absorb the thousands of suspects that have been detained since last summer.”

In a 229-191 vote yesterday, the House rejected a 21-day extension of the Protect America Act yesterday. The “broad spying powers temporarily approved” in August now “appear likely to lapse this week.”

Lawyers for detainees at Guantanamo Bay say the government may have “violated a federal court order by losing or erasing several years’ worth of digital video recordings” of interrogations at the prison. Gitmo’s commander, Rear Adm. Mark H. Buzby, admitted recently that “recordings in several areas of the facility have been automatically overwritten and no longer exist.”

And finally: Supreme Court Justice Sam Alito convicts “The Sopranos”. He said the hit HBO show spreads “stereotypes about Italian-Americans,” arguing that the show “not only associated Italian-Americans with the Mafia, but New Jerseyans, as well.” “You have a trifecta — gangsters, Italian-Americans, New Jersey — wedded in the popular American imagination,” Alito said.

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