ThinkFast: May 23, 2008

Gen. David Petraeus said he expects to recommend additional cuts in U.S. troop levels in Iraq this fall. The WSJ states that the move “could boost the electoral prospects” of John McCain “if voters perceive the war is winding down.”

Three-time melanoma survivor John McCain is apparently cancer-free and otherwise healthy, according to an AP review of his medical records. Today’s release comes after a three-month delay and at least three prior refusals to make the records public.

The Senate passed a bill yesterday “prohibiting federal contractors from avoiding Social Security and Medicare taxes by hiring workers through offshore shell companies.” Earlier this week, the House “also voted unanimously to ban the practice, used by former Halliburton subsidiary KBR” and others to avoid payroll taxes for thousands of American workers in Iraq.

In order to justify the Bush administration’s warrantless wiretapping program in 2001, then-Justice Department lawyer John Yoo argued that FISA was not the “exclusive means” by which the U.S. conducts electronic surveillance. “The statute must be construed to avoid [such] a reading,” wrote Yoo, claiming that Congress had not “made a clear statement,” despite the “exclusive” language in the bill.


Last night, the House overwhelmingly approved an amendment introduced by Rep. Paul Hodes (D-NH) that forbids “the Defense Department from engaging in ‘a concerted effort to propagandize’ the American people over the war.” The move comes after revelations that the Pentagon sought to use military officials as media mouthpieces for the administration.

“In her most extensive public comments” on the matter, Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice “defended tough interrogation techniques for terrorism suspects.” “The fact is that after Sept. 11…we were in an environment in which saving America from the next attack was paramount,” Rice said. She “said America was safer because of interrogation conducted on al-Qaeda detainees.”

Former Alabama governor Don Siegelman “asked the 11th Circuit Court of Appeals on Thursday to toss out his conviction, saying prosecutors confused campaign contributions for bribes.” Siegelman also “argued that the trial judge improperly sentenced him to more prison time because Siegelman publicly declared that Republicans were behind his prosecution.”

According to projections the Department of Energy issued yesterday, “crude oil prices would probably drop by an average of only 75 cents a barrel” if Congress were to allow drilling in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge. The report found that ANWR oil production “is not projected to have a large impact on world oil prices.”

And finally: “Barack Obama wags the dog.” In a forthcoming book entitled “A Rare Breed of Love,” which offers advice on how to “raise awareness, make a difference, and stop animal suffering,” Obama appears holding a three-legged poodle rescued from a puppy mill. “Lest his presidential campaign ever end up in the doghouse, Sen. Barack Obama has decided to go ahead and appeal to the mutts,” writes the Washington Examiner.

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