ThinkFast: September 26, 2007

U.S. military officials are pressing the State Department to “assert more control over” Blackwater USA, “which operates under the department’s authority.” “This is a nightmare,” said a senior military official of the recent incident involving Blackwater. “This is going to hurt us badly. It may be worse than Abu Ghraib.”

While expressing his support for international human rights yesterday at the U.N., “Bush didn’t mention the U.S. prisons in Afghanistan or at Abu Ghraib and Guantanamo Bay, the U.S. practice of holding detainees for years without legal charges or access to lawyers, or the CIA’s ‘rendition’ kidnappings of suspects abroad, all issues of concern to human rights activists around the world.”

Negotiators from the United Auto Workers union and General Motors reached a tentative agreement on a groundbreaking deal early Wednesday to end a two-day old strike by 73,000 workers. The agreement “includes a historic restructuring of GM’s obligations for UAW retiree health care.”

Rep. Henry A. Waxman (D-CA) accused Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice of “interfering with the committee’s work and preventing administration and Blackwater officials from providing pertinent information.” Congress has a “constitutional prerogative” to look into the issues, he wrote, and she is “wrong to interfere with the Committee’s inquiry.”


“Sunni Arab extremists have begun a systematic campaign to assassinate police chiefs, police officers, other Interior Ministry officials and tribal leaders throughout Iraq, staging at least 10 attacks in 48 hours.” Iraqi officials said that the attacks might well have been intended to blunt the administration’s message that “surge” has succeeded in establishing security.

More than 2,000 people in Iraq are suffering from cholera, which is spreading across the country, the World Health Organization said. The spread of the disease has been accelerated by chlorine restrictions imposed on Iraq due to security concerns.

“Senate Democrats moved Tuesday to add an expanded hate-crimes ban to the defense authorization, giving them more time to court GOP votes for a new Iraq withdrawal plan but dimming the must-pass bill’s chances for passage this week.”

House Judiciary Committee Chairman John Conyers (D-MI) said he will “press the government for the release of a black teenager held in the ‘Jena 6’ case that spurred one of the biggest civil-rights demonstrations in years.” “Our first responsibility is to get young Mychal Bell out of prison,” he said.

And finally: The Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine has released an ad showcasing the “disturbing relationship between agribusiness contributions” and pork-barrel funding projects. In the ad, a suited man walks into a men’s room with a briefcase, begins tapping his foot, and is handed cash from underneath a neighboring stall. “The next stall occupant? A giant pig, squealing.” Watch it here.