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ThinkFast: April 17, 2009

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"ThinkFast: April 17, 2009"

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An anonymous Bush official blasted President Obama for releasing the torture memos yesterday. “It’s damaging because these are techniques that work, and by Obama’s action today, we are telling the terrorists what they are,” the official told Politico’s Mike Allen. “We have laid it all out for our enemies. This is totally unnecessary.”

Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-CA), the chair of the Senate Intelligence Committee, said yesterday that “she would hold a hearing to examine the National Security Agency’s interception of domestic communications after new reports that recent wiretapping went beyond what Congress has authorized.” “These are serious allegations, and we will make sure we get the facts,” said Feinstein in a statement.

“I have not backed off at all from my belief that the assault weapons ban makes sense,” President Obama said in Mexico City yesterday, knocking down signals from the White House that it would scuttle efforts to revive the ban. He added, however, that he is not “under any illusions that reinstating that ban would be easy.”

Following the loss of roughly 5,900 jobs in 2008, “the number of newsroom jobs is now at a level last seen during the early 1980s.” 2008 saw “the biggest drop” in jobs that the American Society of News Editors “has recorded since it first started conducing its newsroom employment survey in 1978″ as job losses doubled from 2007 when the industry shed 2,400 jobs.

According to a report from the Office of Congressional Ethics, the new independent ethics panel created by House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) last year “has started 10 reviews of lawmaker misconduct.” But the panel “hasn’t gotten to the point of deciding whether to refer any matters to the House ethics committee.”

The Texas Senate yesterday offered a “sharp rebuke” to Gov. Rick Perry (R) by tentatively voting 22-9 to “accept $555 million in unemployment aid from the federal economic stimulus plan. … A final vote will be needed before the measure goes to the House, where support is considered strong.”

In South Carolina, high school senior Casey Edwards has “filed a lawsuit asking the S.C. Supreme Court to decide who — Gov. Mark Sanford or the Legislaturecontrols $700 million in disputed federal stimulus money.” Edwards believes that state schools need the funds, and there are indications that the court will “act swiftly” on the case.

Top executives from “14 of the nation’s largest credit card companies are heading to the White House on Thursday for a meeting with senior administration officials” to discuss “efforts to increase transparency and help the economy.” New and stricter regulations governing credit card companies will take affect in July 2010, but several members of congress are now working to “accelerate that time line.”

While speaking at the Army War College yesterday, Secretary of Defense Robert Gates “stressed he is not yet taking a position about whether gay troops should be open about their sexuality.” Last month, Gates said he wanted to push the decision “down the road a little bit.”

Cindy and Meghan McCain will make an appearance at Log Cabin Republican’s convention in Washington this weekend. Former McCain campaign chief Steve Schmidt will also make a speech urging “conservative Republicans to drop their opposition to same-sex marriage.”

And finally: When Arne Duncan joined the Obama administration as Education Secretary, he and presidential aide Reggie Love were looking forward to shooting some hoops. (Duncan played pro basketball in Australia and Love was a football and basketball star at Duke.) But because they’ve had a “busy first three months of the new administration, there apparently hasn’t been much presidential ball.” “We keep saying we want to do more, but we are struggling to sort of figure it out,” said Duncan.

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