ThinkFast: February 12, 2009

Nearly to two-thirds of Americans believe “there should be investigations into allegations that the Bush team used torture to interrogate terrorism suspects and its program of wiretapping U.S. citizens without getting warrants,” a new USA Today/Gallup poll finds. While 40 percent “favor criminal investigations,” about 25 percent “want investigations without criminal charges.”

The final compromise on the recovery bill agreement in Congress yesterday “was largely shaped by two forces” — GOP Sens. Olympia Snowe (ME), Susan Collins (ME), and Arlen Specter (PA); and White House Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel. Emanuel was on the Hill “at each step of the process, cutting deals and holding hands to keep Democrats together and win enough Republican support.”

John Yoo has found a new home as visiting professor at Chapman University School of Law, on “leave from his tenured post at UC Berkeley to teach foreign relations law.” Right-wing radio host Hugh Hewitt also teaches at Chapman. Yoo said Berkeley is frequently home to “weird people dressed up in costumes.”

Following a November raid of the PMA Group, a lobbying firm with close ties to Rep. Jack Murtha (D-PA), House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) and Democratic leaders are “concerned” by a widening criminal probe that may involve Murtha. “Sources close to the leadership say there’s no move afoot to force him out” as chairman of the Defense Subcommittee of the House Appropriations Committee.

The nation’s oldest civil rights group — the NAACP (National Association for the Advancement of Colored People) — celebrates its 100th birthday today. “President and CEO Benjamin Todd Jealous, 36, says the organization should no longer concentrate solely on equality between black and white people, but on human rights.”

Gov. Bobby Jindal (R-LA) will deliver the national Republican response to President Obama’s first speech to Congress. Obama “plans to speak to a joint session of the House and Senate on Feb. 24 about the problems facing the nation” a speech similar to a State of the Union address. Jindal will give the GOP response in a nationally televised address from Baton Rouge immediately after Obama’s speech.

Yesterday, the Senate Intelligence Committee unanimously agreed on Leon Panetta’s nomination to head the CIA. Also on Wednesday, the full Senate voted 93 to 4 to confirm William Lynn as deputy defense secretary. The “no” votes came from Charles Grassley (R-IA), Tom Coburn (R-OK), John Cornyn (R-TX), and Claire McCaskill (D-MO).

Florida’s disaster management chief Craig Fugate, who has led the state’s response to eight hurricanes over the past two years, is a leading candidate to be appointed new director of FEMA. Fugate acknowledged that he recently spoke with Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano about a “high-level position” at FEMA.

The Department of Homeland Security’s immigration mission “has been undermined by wasteful spending along the southern border,” according to a report by the Migration Policy Institute. The report also faulted “law enforcement efforts that focused on snaring illegal workers rather than high-risk criminals, and an often hostile bureaucracy that discourages people eligible for legal entry from playing by the rules.”

And finally: In the upcoming issue of the New York Times Magazine, former Weather Underground member William Ayers says that he would like to team up with Gov. Sarah Palin (R-AK). During the campaign, Palin famously accused Barack Obama of “palling around with terrorists,” a reference to Ayers. “I did send her a note after the election,” Ayers says of Palin. “I suggested that we have a talk show together called ‘Pallin’ Around With Sarah and Bill.’ I haven’t heard back.”

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