ThinkFast: October 9, 2008


A draft version of the new National Intelligence Estimate “concludes that Afghanistan is in a ‘downward spiral’ and casts serious doubt on the ability of the Afghan government to stem the rise in the Taliban’s influence there.” The CIA has documented the worsening violence for nearly 2 years and “some in the agency say they believe that it has taken the White House too long to respond to the warnings.”

Negotiations with some members of the Taliban could provide a way to reduce violence in sections of Afghanistan gripped by an intensifying insurgency,” Gen. David Petreaus said yesterday. He noted how Britain had helped reduce violence in Iraq through negotiations, remarking, “They’ve sat down with thugs throughout their history, including us in our early days.”

“Todd Palin talked with over a dozen state officials, many of them repeatedly, in his crusade to get a state trooper fired whom he considered to be a bad cop, a dishonest person and a threat to the Palin family, according to his sworn statement given Wednesday to a legislative investigator.” Andrew Halcro has a thorough analysis of Palin’s deposition here.

63.2 million: Number of U.S. viewers who watched the second presidential debate, easily surpassing the audience of the first debate (52.4 million). Forty-two percent of households in the top U.S. television markets tuned in to Tuesday’s match-up.

On the trail today: Barack Obama stops in the Ohio cities of Dayton, Cincinnati, and Portsmouth. Joe Biden campaigns in the Missouri cities of St. Joseph, Liberty, and Jefferson City. John McCain and Sarah Palin hold a town hall meeting in Waukesha, WI. McCain later holds an event in Mosinee, WI, while Palin talks to voters in Wilmington, OH.

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) yesterday recommended a new $150 billion economic stimulus plan and said “she may call the House into session after the election to pass it.” Pelosi said “the stock market meltdown…was a factor in her recommendation.

After already doling out an $85 billion bridge loan in September, the Federal Reserve Board announced yesterday “that it would provide up to $37.8 billion to the embattled insurer the American International Group to help it deal with a rapidly dwindling supply of cash.” A Fed spokesman said “the new assistance was intended to keep the company from having to draw down the Fed loan so quickly.”

A federal appeals court panel on Wednesday issued a temporary stay of a federal judge’s order that had directed the Bush administration to free 17 Guantánamo detainees by releasing them in the United States on Friday.” The court will review arguments by the Justice Department, which opposes freeing the detainees.

Delivering “a sharp blow” to the prosecution’s case against Sen. Ted Stevens (R-AK), a judge threw out two key pieces of evidence against Stevens yesterday. The judge presiding over the case faulted prosecutors for knowingly introducing false documents relating to work done on Stevens home. “There’s just no excuse for that whatsoever,” he said.

“Tens of thousands of eligible voters in at least six swing states have been removed from the rolls or have been blocked from registering in ways that appear to violate federal law,” the New York Times reports today. The blocked voters “are apparently the result of mistakes in the handling of the registrations and voter files as the states tried to comply with a 2002 federal law.”

And finally: Congress is all a-Twitter. More than three dozen federal lawmakers now use the micro-blogging site, writing on everything from what press conferences they’re holding to more mundane topics, such as Rep. Chris Shays’s (R-CT) tale of getting stuck in traffic. The Sunlight Foundation has created a tool to track all of Congress’s tweets, and Congresspedia has a full list of twittering lawmakers here.

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