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ThinkFast: September 27, 2007

During his Senate testimony, Defense Secretary Robert Gates said that despite his “intent” to move towards closing Guantanamo Bay, he has run “into several obstacles put up by lawyers within the executive branch.”

Gates also asked Congress yesterday for “an additional $42.3 billion for the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan,” bringing the total request for 2008 to $190 billion — “the largest single-year total for the wars so far.”

A federal judge ruled yesterday that “two provisions of the USA Patriot Act are unconstitutional” because they allowed federal surveillance and searches of Americans without demonstrating probable cause.

Verizon Wireless is refusing to allow Naral Pro-Choice America “to make Verizon’s mobile network available for a text-message program,” claiming it has “the right to block ‘controversial or unsavory’ text messages.”

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3,801: the number of American soldiers who have died in Iraq as of today. One of the most recent casualties, Sgt. Zachary Tomczak, 24, of Huron, Okla., was on his fourth tour of duty in Iraq.

Yesterday kicked off the third annual Clinton Global Initiative, drawing more than 50 current and former world leaders and 1,300 other attendees. Commitments included “150 million to provide health services to 30 million women and children” and $2.4 billion for a Florida clean energy program. Make your own commitment HERE and follow the event’s activities at the CGI blog.

Insurgents in Iraq staged six car bombings across the country yesterday, killing at least 30 people and wounding dozens. “We have seen an upturn in levels of violence in the last few days,” said Brig. Gen. Kevin J. Bergner.

“Seven months after a major investigation spelt out Europe’s involvement in a murky U.S. torture and kidnapping programme, the EU’s governments have claimed they are powerless to prevent such human rights abuses in the future.”

And finally: Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas and his protege, columnist Armstrong Williams, are bonded by “storms” in their lives. “For Thomas, it was [his] contentious confirmation process. For Williams, it was his government contract promoting President Bush’s No Child Left Behind Act, which triggered a Justice Department investigation.” “That is a bond for us,” says Williams.

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