ThinkFast: February 22, 2006

ThinkFast is a new feature of ThinkProgress. Coffee and donuts not included. (It’s still a work in progress — let us know what you think.)Human Rights First is set to release a report today charging that 98 prisoners have died in US custody in Iraq and Afghanistan since August 2002. Thirty-four of the deaths were suspected or confirmed homicides. Also: Actors from a new film Road to Guantanamo were held and interrogated at UK airport.

In a recently unsealed court document, Bush administration lawyers argued “journalists can be prosecuted under current espionage laws for receiving and publishing classified information.” Secrecy expert Steven Aftergood said the Bush position “is one that characterizes authoritarian societies, not mature democracies.” Also: “Why We Need Leakers

On the heels of a car bomb that killed 21 people, Iraqi insurgents yesterday blew up the gold-domed shrine in Samarra that houses two important Shiite imams.

More: “Turf battles in Iraq delay government’s formation”

. . .

Alito’s America: Supreme Court agrees to decide whether a vaguely-worded ban on so-called “partial-birth abortion” is constitutional.


Three appeals courts found the ban unconstitutional and ordered the government not to enforce it, primarily because it lacks an exception for a woman’s health. Pro-choice groups charge its language is “so vague and overbroad that it gives doctors insufficient notice of what medical conduct is prohibited and what is legal.”

“Though more seniors are enrolling” in the new Medicare prescription drug plan each month, they’re liking it less and less. Some 45 percent of seniors view the plan unfavorably today compared to 32 percent last August, according to the Kaiser Foundation. Also: Health care spending on track to consume 20 percent of U.S. GDP.

In 2000, Rep. Tom DeLay (R-TX) opposed a bill banning Internet gambling. Now, he supports the ban. The difference? One of his “closest and dearest friends,” Jack Abramoff, isn’t around now to convince him to support it.

Conservative Senate Ethics Committee Chairman George Voinovich (R-OH) indicates a growing enthusiasm for public financing of campaigns. Voinovich says politicians spend too much time “dialing for dollars,” something Brent Wilkes knows about all too well.

Right-wing supporters argued earlier this year that the Constitution is a technicality, and a clerical error in the Senate budget reconciliation bill making it different than the House version was no big deal. But three years ago, the leadership authorized $221,000 to update “How Our Laws Made,” a report which clearly states, “A bill cannot become a law of the land until it has been approved in identical form by both Houses of Congress.”

. . .

“How important is a war-on-terror intelligence asset — important enough that his clear complicity in genocide should be overlooked?” A confidential UN document identifying “the 17 individuals most responsible for war crimes in Darfur” lists Salah Gosh, the head of Sudanese intelligence who was flown into the United States by the CIA last year in an effort to foster a “close intelligence partnership” between the two countries.

“The Secretary of Defense thinks like a futurist and acts like a Neanderthal.”

David Cole writes in the New York Review of Books: “Are We Safer?

Instability and violence continue just 600 miles off the Florida shores where Haitians are still attempting to establish a viable government and the rule of law. The way forward? President-elect Preval needs to put the national interest ahead of his own interests, and the U.S. needs to offer its support.


Police are investigating why 70 percent of a Hell’s Angels biker gang chapter were certified as depressed and found qualified to receive state sickness benefits — all by the same doctor.

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