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ThinkFast: October 30, 2007

Director of National Intelligence Adm. Mike McConnell will today disclose “that national intelligence activities amounting to roughly 80 percent of all U.S. intelligence spending for the year cost more than $40 billion. … The disclosure means that when military spending is added, aggregate U.S. intelligence spending for fiscal 2007 exceeded $50 billion.”

“The editor of a Baghdad weekly newspaper was murdered” this weekend. “At least 122 journalists and 41 media support staff have been killed in Iraq since the U.S.-led invasion in 2003.” Nearly 85 percent of those killed were Iraqis.

The U.N.’s investigator on human rights in the fight against terrorism, “said in a report released Monday that he’s concerned about U.S. detention practices, military courts and interrogation techniques.” He urged the U.S. to end extraordinary rendition and close Guantanamo.

“Six years after the Bush administration embraced harsh physical tactics for interrogating terrorism suspects, and two years after it reportedly dropped the most extreme of those techniques, the taint of torture clings to American counterterrorism efforts,” writes The New York Times.

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“The growing numbers of foreign fighters in Afghanistan are more violent and extreme than their local allies” and are “helping to change the face of the Taliban from a movement of hard-line Afghan religious students” into a broader network of foreign militants, “disgruntled Afghans,” and drug traffickers. The largest dam in Iraq is “in serious danger of an imminent collapse” that could lead to “as many as 500,000 civilian deaths by drowning Mosul under 65 feet of water.” A “U.S. reconstruction project to help shore up the dam in northern Iraq has been marred by incompetence and mismanagement.

“Despite declining violence in Iraq, the shaky state of security is still impeding the nation’s $100 billion recovery and rebuilding effort,” according to a report from the Special Inspector General for Iraq Reconstruction.

Warren Buffett yesterday told CNBC that he believes there is a “fairly significant” chance that the United States is headed toward a recession.

And finally: Alex Seropian, the co-creator of the video game franchise Halo, is releasing a new game — Hail to the Chimp, a “metaphorical look at the election with 10 animals standing in for the candidates.” A spokeswoman for Seropian said that the game is “nonpartisan,” but has “all the elements of our current administration.” The DC Examiner notes that one chimp also “looks suspiciously like a caricature of President Bush.”