ThinkFast: May 22, 2008


The 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ruled yesterday that “the military cannot automatically discharge people because they’re gay.” The court “did not strike down the military’s ‘don’t ask, don’t tell’ policy” but reinstated a lawsuit from a “decorated flight nurse who sued the Air Force over her dismissal.”

On Wednesday, President Bush “found himself in opposition to the Veterans of Foreign Wars, a group that has generally supported him. The group’s national commander, George Lisicki, emerged from a meeting with the president expressing strong support” for the 21st Century GI Bill, which Bush has threatened to veto.

When Gen. David Petraeus and Lt. Gen. Raymond Odierno testify before the Senate Armed Services Committee today they will defend a pause in troop reductions in Iraq, saying that “the U.S. must be careful not to withdraw forces from Iraq too quickly because security gains could be lost.” Petraeus has been nominated to be chief of U.S. Central Command and Odierno has been nominated to replace Petraeus in Iraq.

Today, the New York Times’s Helene Cooper writes that the “Bush administration’s own policies appear to be at odds” with the President’s recent pronouncement that talking to enemies is “appeasement.” Many State Department officials “concede that the United States does not hew to one policy on engaging its enemies. ‘I’d rather be right than consistent,’ a senior Bush administration official said.”

Career FBI agent Bassem Youssef told Congress yesterday that “counter-terrorism agents and managers at FBI headquarters often lack basic knowledge about Middle Eastern culture, language and terrorists’ ideology.” “The FBI counter-terrorism division is ill-equipped to handle the terrorist threat we are facing,” Youssef told the House Judiciary Committee.

Mohammed Kamin, an Afghan detainee, “joined a growing detainee boycott of the war-crimes trials at the Guantanamo Bay.” Kamin was “dragged from his cell to his first pretrial hearing at Guantanamo Wednesday, then refused to participate, telling the judge he felt ‘helpless.'”

Department of Veterans Affairs officials yesterday said that they oppose much of Sen. Patty Murray’s (D-WA) bill to “improve care for female veterans even as the number of women seeking VA medical services is expected to double within the next five years.” Some of the objectionable provisions include special training on how to care for “female victims of military sexual trauma and post traumatic stress disorder.”

The Energy Information Administration reports that “U.S. carbon dioxide emissions from burning fossil fuels increased by 1.6 percent in 2007. … Factors that drove the emissions increase included … a higher carbon intensity of electricity supply.” Climate Progress notes that CO2 emissions would have grown faster under Bush if not for “two economic slowdowns, 9/11…and a rapidly growing trade deficit with China.”

And finally: At a hearing with EPA administrator Stephen Johnson this week, Rep. Henry Waxman (D-CA) went over his allotted time while grilling Johnson. Rep. Darrell Issa (R-CA) angrily accused Waxman of breaking the rules, but as chairman, Waxman “banged the gavel six times in Issa’s face.” Yesterday, House Minority Leader John Boehner (R-OH) called Waxman and complained about his “outrageous threats and intimidation.” Waxman, however, is laughing about “Boehner’s suggestion that he was a threatening force.” “Just look at me,” he said. “How can you not quake in my presence?”

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