ThinkFast: June 3, 2009

Dick Cheney, The Angler

Vice President Cheney personally oversaw at least four secret briefings with senior members of Congress in 2005 in an effort to forcefully defend the Bush administration’s torture program. The briefings “came at some of the most critical moments for the program, as congressional oversight committees were threatening to investigate or even terminate the techniques.”

Former U.S. attorney Chris Christie won New Jersey’s Republican gubernatorial primary yesterday, beating back conservative Steve Lonegan with 55 percent of the vote. Christie will go on to face Democratic Gov. Jon Corzine in the general election.

Supreme Court nominee Sonia Sotomayor has been criticized as an “anti-gun radical” for a ruling in which she concluded that “the Second Amendment does not prevent state and local governments from restricting arms ownership.” Yesterday, however, “a panel of conservative luminaries on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 7th Circuit reached the same conclusion.”

Meeting with Senate Democrats yesterday, President Obama “affirmed his support for the creation of a government-sponsored health insurance plan,” which he said would “help control health costs.” Obama also said “that he is willing to consider taxing employer-sponsored health benefits to help pay for a broad expansion of coverage,” despite campaign rhetoric criticizing such a move.

Sen. Patrick Leahy (D-VT) has “offered a bill that would allow American citizens and legal immigrants to seek residency in the United States for their same-sex partners, just as spouses now petition for foreign-born husbands and wives.” Leahy said the bill — the Uniting American Families Act — “should be part of any broad immigration legislation that Congress considers.”

Lt. Gen. Stanley McChrystal, the commander of the war in Afghanistan, said yesterday that “violence and combat deaths will intensify as more U.S. troops surge into Taliban-held areas,” but added that his new strategy would put safeguarding Afghan civilians ahead of “killing insurgents.”

“A military investigation has concluded that American personnel made significant errors in carrying out some of the airstrikes in western Afghanistan on May 4 that killed dozens of Afghan civilians.” A senior American military official “said the civilian death toll would probably have been reduced if American air crews and forces on the ground had followed strict rules devised to prevent civilian casualties.”

Adm. Michael G. Mullen, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, said yesterday that the nation must do more for the mental health of American soldiers, warning that statistics show “there are going to be more [troop] suicides this year than last.” Mullen said that “the military lacks the number of mental health professionals necessary to help returning or soon-to-deploy troops deal with the high stress of war.”

And finally: Center for American Progress speechwriter Grant Ginder released his debut novel, This Is How It Starts. “Adultery, booze, gossip, name-dropping — it’s all just part of the game,” Roll Call writes of the book.

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