ThinkFast: December 17, 2007

The Senate is set to begin debate today on a FISA bill that would overhaul the rules for electronic surveillance. Sen. Harry Reid (D-NV) has elected to bring legislation to the Senate floor that would provide retroactive immunity for telecommunications companies that participated in the Bush administration’s illegal spying efforts. Sen. Chris Dodd (D-CT) will reportedly filibuster the bill. FDL has more.

Saudi King Abdullah has pardoned a teenage gang-rape victim who had been sentenced to 200 lashes and a six-month jail term for “being alone with a man unrelated to her.” A Saudi appeals court had punished the rape victim for going to the media with her story.

Pentagon officials are pressuring President Bush to “accelerate a troop drawdown in Iraq and bulk up force levels in Afghanistan. … Senior administration officials now believe Afghanistan may pose a greater longer-term challenge than Iraq.”

“While violence is down in Iraq, Americans continue to die and fall badly wounded, and suffer severe stress and trauma caused by 15-month tours of duty. A remarkable article on Friday in the Army Times is titled: ‘Not us. We’re not going: Soldiers in 2nd Platoon, Charlie 1–26 stage a mutiny that pulls the unit apart.”

Rep. Robert Wexler (D-FL) writes of “the case for impeachment hearings.” Along with fellow House Judiciary Committee members Luis Gutierrez (D-IL) and Tammy Baldwin (D-WI), Wexler is calling for the commencement of impeachment hearings against Vice President Cheney.

Rep. Pete Hoekstra (R-MI), the ranking Republican on the House Intelligence Committee, yesterday promised that he will push forward with “a probe into the destruction of CIA videotapes of detainee interrogations, despite a Justice Department request that congressional inquiries be suspended.”

The House-Senate conference report on the FY 2008 intelligence authorization bill “is heavily focused on the use of private contractors by intelligence agencies,” stating that the intelligence community lacks clear definitions of functions to be performed by contractors and whether contractors are performing tasks “that should be performed by government employees.”

And finally: President Bush has “a regular posse of eight to 10 cyclists” who join him on his 90-minute weekend bike rides. Legislative aide Barrett Karr, who often joins the group, said that Bush “usually takes the lead as the group heads out, but at some point…will say, ‘Let the dogs out’ — and the faster riders will zoom to the front.” Another rider, economic adviser Edward P. Lazear, said, “We ride hard. There’s no question. We ride really hard.”

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