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ThinkFast: April 10, 2007

President Bush, the Vice President, Secretary of Defense, and Secretary of State all failed to mention Iraq publicly yesterday on the fourth anniversary of the “liberation” of Baghdad. Instead, “the lead item on the White House Web site, under the heading ‘LATEST NEWS,’ was a photograph of Clifford the Big Red Dog at the annual Easter Egg Roll on the South Lawn.”

MoveOn.org is hosting a “live ‘virtual town hall’ forum about the Iraq war, in what is being billed as the largest and most ambitious experiment yet in harnessing the power of Internet technology to reshape participatory democracy.” Seven Democratic presidential candidates are expected to take part in the event tonight.

Syrian President Bashar al-Assad invited Speaker Nancy Pelosi and others in her delegation that met him in Damascus last week to make a return visit, Rep. Tom Lantos said. “I have every intention of going back,” said Lantos, refusing to back down in the face of heavy criticism from the White House.

“A half-dozen sitting U.S. attorneys also serve as aides to Attorney General Alberto R. Gonzales or are assigned other Washington postings, performing tasks that take them away from regular duties in their districts for months or even years at a time, according to officials and department records.”

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The late Jeane Kirkpatrick, “the godmother of the neoconservative movement,” and former U.N. ambassador who John Bolton sought to emulate, acknowledges in a posthumous memoir that the Iraq war was “something of a mistake.Sen. John McCain (R-AZ) yesterday said that he would have “taken his tour of an Iraqi market last week even if he hadn’t been accompanied by heavily armed U.S. soldiers.” He added that the only reason he walked through Baghdad’s Shorja market with 100 soldiers, three Blackhawks, and two Apache gunships was because “General Petraeus asked” him to do so.

“Public approval for Congress is at its highest level in a year as Democrats mark 100 days in power and step up their confrontation with President Bush over his handling of the Iraq War, the issue that overshadows all others.”

“Millions of dollars of North Korean funds, frozen for two years amid allegations of money laundering, are to be released,” the Bush administration said. “The chief US nuclear envoy said the release of the funds cleared the way for the North — which in October said it had successfully tested a nuclear weapon — to begin shutting down the reactor later this week.”

“Stem cells will be at the top of the agenda for the U.S. Senate” when it returns from recess today. The Senate will consider a bill to expand federal funding of human embryonic stem cell research. President Bush vetoed a similar bill last year.

And finally: Each year, the Thomas Jefferson Center for the Protection of Free Expression gives out Jefferson Muzzle awards to “the most egregious First Amendment violators.” This year’s winners: the Bush administration (for censoring scientists on climate change) and the Defense Department (for its “investigations of organizations that conducted peaceful anti-war protests”).