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ThinkFast: February 7, 2007

On grand jury audiotapes played at his trial yesterday, Scooter Libby claimed he learned about Valerie Plame’s CIA identity from Vice President Cheney, “forgot it, then learned it again” from Tim Russert “a month later.”

Deputy Attorney General Paul McNulty testified yesterday that a senior federal prosecutor in Arkansas was removed for political reasons to make room for a former aide to Karl Rove. McNulty claimed that at least six other U.S. attorneys were fired for “performance-related” issues, including Carol Lam, who oversaw the prosecution of former Rep. Duke Cunningham (R-CA).

Rep. Jan Schakowsky (D-IL) has introduced legislation to raise the “veil of secrecy” on the work of military contractors. The bill requires several departments to report the number of contractors and subcontractors employed in Iraq and Afghanistan, a description of their work, and the total costs of contracts there.

Lawmakers are unhappy about the 110th Congress’s five-day work week. A “visibly annoyed” Sen. Pat Roberts (R-KS) said, “I just told [Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid] I won’t be back by 4:30” for the vote Monday, “even though I’m catching a 1:55 flight.” Both Reid and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) have said they will keep the full work week, despite the complaints.

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“Rep. Rush Holt (D-NJ) says he’s optimistic about achieving his longstanding legislative priority this year — requiring electronic voting machines to have paper backups so election results can be verified.” Hold reintroduced his paper trail bill on Monday, and it is “widely expected to become law.”Tourism is in Crawford, TX — President Bush’s hometown — is lagging. Some residents say the hard times reflect “the president’s sinking popularity over the war in Iraq and a daunting influx of anti-war protesters.”

“The biggest sexual discrimination case in U.S. history advanced against Wal-Mart Stores Inc. on Tuesday when a top court ruled that more than a million women could join a suit charging bias in pay and promotions.”

“After 10 years and $1.7 billion, this is what the Marines Corps got for its investment in a new amphibious vehicle: A craft that breaks down about an average of once every 4 1/2 hours, leaks and sometimes veers off course,” the Washington Post reports, “And for that, the contractor, General Dynamics of Falls Church, received $80 million in bonuses.”

“The growing number of immigrant entrepreneurs in major U.S. cities is giving a huge lift to urban economies and even outpacing self-employed native-born Americans,” according to a new report..

And finally: “Why did Rep. Dan Burton (R-IN) miss 19 House votes over four days in mid-January? Where was he?” As it turned out, Burton took a week off from work to play golf at the Bob Hope Chrysler Classic in Palm Springs, CA. In 2000, Burton “scheduled a panel field hearing in nearby Los Angeles the same week as the Bob Hope event,” purportedly to “study whether Soviet agents had ever hidden secret stashes of weapons in the United States in case World War III broke out.” “It’s my understanding that there are many potential targets for Russian sabotage in California,” Burton said at the time.

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