ThinkFast: July 3, 2008


“Declaring that there will not be ‘another colonization of Iraq,’ Iraq’s foreign minister” indicated yesterday it was unlikely a security deal with the U.S. would be reached this year, “and that if one was, it would be a short-term pact.” American officials are no longer optimistic about reaching a quick agreement.

A federal judge said yesterday that the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act established by Congress “was the ‘exclusive’ means for the president to eavesdrop on Americans.” Judge Vaughn R. Walker, the chief judge for the Northern District of California, “rejected the government’s claim that the president’s constitutional authority as commander in chief trumped that law.”

The Justice Department is currently considering “letting the FBI investigate Americans without any evidence of wrongdoing, relying instead on a terrorist profile that could single out Muslims, Arabs or other racial and ethnic groups.” The ACLU criticized the announcement, saying that the FBI could begin investigations simply “by assuming that everyone’s a suspect, and then you weed out the innocent.”

The Bush administration and the two major presidential campaigns are beginning “an unprecedented attempt to prevent the transfer of power in January from disrupting defense and counterterrorism efforts.” The Obama and McCain campaigns are compiling lists of potential nominees for counterterrorism positions so that they “can be vetted and confirmed as quickly as possible.”

On the trail today: Sen. Barack Obama (D-IL) plans to hold a conversation with veterans in Fargo, ND, followed by a “family fun day” in Montana with his wife and daughters to celebrate July Fourth and his daughter Malia’s 10th birthday. Sen. John McCain (R-AZ) is in Mexico to discuss free trade and the eradication of illegal drugs.

Sen. John McCain’s (R-AZ) conservative allies have found “new loopholes in the campaign-finance law he helped write.” For instance, the Republican Governors Association, which can accept unlimited donations, is telling donors it’s “the best way to help McCain.” But Democrats “question the legality” of this method while even the McCain campaign “questions the accuracy of the group’s pitch.”

ABC News reports that in the past week, high-level discussions amongst senior administration officials about the status of Guantanamo Bay have “escalated,” and President Bush is expected to soon decide whether to close the prison.

According to the G8 Climate Scorecards 2008, “the U.S. has done the least among the world’s eight biggest economies to address global warming.” The study also found that none of the G8 nations has taken enough steps to prevent catastrophic temperature changes.

“High levels of formaldehyde found in trailers provided to Hurricane Katrina evacuees on the Gulf Coast probably resulted from cheap wood and poor ventilation in designs used by manufacturers.” The revelations confirm “the role that manufacturers’ practices and weak federal regulation played in the public health disaster after” the hurricane.

Joint Chiefs of Staff Chairman Adm. Mike Mullen warned Wednesday that an Israeli air strike against Iran would make the Middle East more unstable. “Opening up a third front right now would be extremely stressful for us,” he said. “This is a very unstable part of the world, and I don’t need it to be more unstable.”

And finally: Long before he wanted to join government, former House Speaker Newt Gingrich wanted to be…a zookeeper. In the introduction to “America’s Best Zoos: A Travel Guide for Fans and Families,” Gingrich writes that he “fell in love with seeing animals in all their glory and diversity.” Guidebook co-author Allen Nyhuis said his publisher was initially “skeptical” of allowing Gingrich to write the introduction “because of the image that conservatives don’t like the environment.”

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