ThinkFast: April 28, 2006

A pair of Bush administration terrorism reports are due out today. The State Department’s annual terrorism report finds that Iraq has become a safe haven for terrorists and has attracted a “foreign fighter pipeline” linked to terrorist plots, cells and attacks throughout the world. Meanwhile, a National Counterterrorism Threat Center report finds that terrorist incidents and deaths more than doubled in 2005.

$1.2 million: The collective debt owed by almost 900 battle-injured soldiers to the Department of Defense. These debts have “resulted in significant hardships” to the soldiers and their families, according to a new Government Accountability Office (GAO) report.

Senate trims the pork”¦err, seafood, out of the emergency supplemental bill. Senators succeeded yesterday in “killing funding for a seafood promotion program that had been tucked inside a bill for the Iraq war and further hurricane relief for the Gulf Coast.”

Jack Abramoff’s lawyers claim the lobbyist is “broke.” But this month, Abramoff and his family spent a week at the oceanfront Turnberry Isle Resort and Country Club in Aventura, Florida, which charges a “minimum of $3,600 per adult for a nine-night Passover package.” Abramoff’s lawyers said the trip was paid for by “extended family.”


Facing a surge of anti-American sentiment in his country, Pakistan President Pervez Musharraf insisted yesterday that he was not George Bush’s poodle. “When you are talking about fighting terrorism or extremism, I’m not doing that for the US or Britain. I’m doing it for Pakistan,” he said. “It’s not a question of being a poodle. I’m nobody’s poodle. I have enough strength of my own to lead.”The United States has violated the Convention Against Torture at home and abroad, according to a new American Civil Liberties Union report.

Rice and Rumsfeld stumped by a reporter’s excellent question: “A full 10 seconds of silence passed after a reporter asked Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice and Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld what the intense secrecy and security surrounding their visit to Iraq signified about the stability of the country three years after the U.S.-led invasion. Rice turned to Rumsfeld to provide the answer. Rumsfeld glared at the reporter.”

Iraqi National Security Adviser Mowaffak Rubaie said the Iraqi government was working to formalize a “conditions-based transition agreement” for U.S. military withdrawal from the country. “Certainly at the end of the year there is going to be a sizable gross reduction in U.S. troops,” Mr. Rubaie said as he stood beside Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld.

“As international pressure and attention focuses squarely on Iran and the increasingly worrisome statements of the country’s president,” says Foreign Policy magazine’s blog, “it’s easy to forget about another threat to regional stability: Bashar al-Assad. Syria’s feared president is counting on this global attention deficit disorder and increasingly cracking down on his people, according to several experts in the region.”

And finally: Send in the clowns. In honor of “Bring Our Daughters and Sons to Work Day,” a troupe of “entertainers from Ringling Brothers & Barnum and Bailey was brought in to entertain the kids at the Pentagon’s courtyard for an afternoon performance. Ringmaster Jonathan Lee Iverson served as master of ceremonies as acrobat Liliu and the clowns delighted the crowd.” “I’m going to be a clown at the Pentagon,” exclaimed one clown after learning about her assignment. “Are you for real?

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