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ThinkFast: October 9, 2007

A private intelligence company, SITE Intelligence Group, is claiming that intel officials inside the administration prematurely leaked a tape of bin Laden that the company obtained off a secret al Qaeda communications system. The leak has caused al Qaeda’s system to suddenly “go dark.”

“Two months after vowing to roll back broad new wiretapping powers won by the Bush administration,” the NYT writes, “Congressional Democrats appear ready to make concessions that could extend some of the key powers granted to the National Security Agency.” Glenn Greenwald suggests “the picture is more complicated and less depressing than this NYT article suggests.”

In a new report, the Iraqi government wants the U.S. to “to sever all contracts in Iraq with Blackwater USA within six months and pay $8 million in compensation to each of the families of 17 people killed when the firm’s guards” opened fire in a Baghdad last month. The Iraqis also want the U.S. to hand over the guards involved in the incident for possible trial in Iraqi court.

Gen. George Casey, the Army chief of staff, said the Army “will need three or four years to recover from the strains of repeated deployments to Iraq even with a planned drawdown of US forces next year.”

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“Almost 40% of the people displaced from New Orleans by Hurricane Katrina” lived “below the poverty line last year,” according to a Census Bureau survey. The survey also found that “nearly a third of those who fled the hurricane could not find jobs last year, and thousands more weren’t trying.”

President Bush’s SCHIP veto has caused “fresh divisions” among Senate Republicans. “Because the president and Republican leaders are not pushing a positive health care agenda, a lot of people are not comfortable opposing anything that has children in it,” Sen. Jim DeMint (R-S.C.) told Roll Call that the “lack of a forceful positive agenda” has “sort of split our caucus.”

“Americans are hearing much less from the Bush administration about democracy for the Middle East than they did a year ago. As Shiite Iran rises, the White House has muted its calls for reform in the region as it redirects policy to reembrace Sunni Arab allies — who run, to varying degrees, authoritarian regimes.”

Six years after 9/11, “the ‘war on terror’ is failing and instead fueling an increase in support for extremist Islamist movements,” according to the Oxford Research Group, a British think tank. The group stated that a “fundamental re-think is required” if al Qaeda is to be rendered ineffective.

And finally: In the introduction of his new book, “I Am America (And So Can You!),” Stephen Colbert writes, “I AM NO FAN OF BOOKS. AND CHANCES ARE, IF YOU’RE READING THIS, YOU AND I SHARE A HEALTHY SKEPTICISM ABOUT THE PRINTED WORD. WELL, I WANT YOU TO KNOW THAT THIS IS THE FIRST BOOK I’VE EVER WRITTEN, AND I HOPE IT’S THE FIRST BOOK YOU’VE EVER READ. DON’T MAKE A HABIT OF IT.”

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