FUBAR

Another mess in the nation’s capital

Just in case you are returning from a long Thanksgiving vacation on Mars, let me catch you up on what may be one of the worst municipal corruption scandals in American history, at least in the sheer audacity, duration, and amount of money stolen.

Iran ended nuke program years ago

Iran halted its secret effort to develop a nuclear weapon four years ago and doesn’t appear to have restarted the project, a comprehensive new U.S. intelligence report said Monday.

Iran’s decision to stop the program in mid-2003 indicates that it’s “less determined” to acquire nuclear weapons and “more vulnerable” to international pressure than U.S. intelligence agencies had previously believed, the U.S. intelligence community said.

Don Imus back on the air

Don Imus returned to the airwaves Monday — eight months after his firing for racist and sexist remarks about the Rutgers women’s basketball team — by introducing a new, diverse cast that included a black woman.

As he did several times in the days after the episode, Imus called his remarks “reprehensible” and said the women were “innocent people” who didn’t deserve to be made fun of.

U.S. used Jordan to grill detainees

The US Central Intelligence Agency has reportedly used its ties with its Jordanian counterparts to detain and interrogate at least 12 terrorism suspects in Jordan.

Citing unnamed documents, former prisoners and human rights advocates, The Washington Post said the detention center located on the outskirts on Amman was mostly used as a covert transit point for CIA prisoners captured elsewhere.

Some were detained during stopovers at Amman International Airport, the report said.

Speaking out for gay rights

Military opponents of the US “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” policy banning openly gay soldiers from serving in the military spoke out this week in Washington, in the latest criticism of the legislation.

Coinciding with the law’s 14th anniversary Friday, 28 retired generals and admirals put their names to a letter to Congress, demanding that the controversial legislation be scrapped.

“We respectfully urge Congress to repeal the ‘Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell’ policy,” the letter said.

A troubled man in troubled times

Leeland Eisenberg was already in trouble before he walked into one of Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton’s campaign offices. Three days earlier, his wife had filed for divorce; he was due to appear in court with her for a domestic violence hearing in about half an hour.

Then, the nicely dressed, gray-haired man peeled open his jacket to reveal what looked like dynamite strapped to his chest, authorities said, and things got much worse.

So much for the war on terror

Local intelligence-sharing centers set up after the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks have had their anti-terrorism mission diluted by a focus on run-of-the-mill street crime and hazards such as hurricanes, a government report concludes.

Of the 43 “fusion centers” already established, only two focus exclusively on preventing terrorism, the Government Accountability Office found in a national survey obtained by The Associated Press. Center directors complain they were hampered by lack of guidance from Washington and were flooded by often redundant information from multiple computer systems.

The old man’s last gasp

Fidel Castro was calling by cell phone during Hugo Chavez’s final remarks at the National Stadium in Santiago, Chile, after King Juan Carlos of Spain had told Chavez, Venezuela’s president, to shut up.

The convalescing Cuban dictator wanted to tell Chavez he was thinking about the Chilean volunteers who had gone off to fight against Nicaraguan dictator Anastasio Somoza in the 1960s.

Is Castro’s reminiscence of consequence? You decide.

Witnesses describe Blackwater horrors

A federal grand jury investigating Blackwater Worldwide heard witnesses Tuesday as a private lawsuit accused the government contractor’s bodyguards of ignoring orders and abandoning their posts shortly before taking part in a Baghdad shooting that left 17 Iraqi civilians dead.

Filed this week in U.S. District Court in Washington, the civil complaint also accuses North Carolina-based Blackwater of failing to give drug tests to its guards in Baghdad — even though an estimated one in four of them was using steroids or other “judgment altering substances.”

A Blackwater spokeswoman said Tuesday its employees are banned from using steroids or other enhancement drugs but declined to comment on the other charges detailed in the 18-page lawsuit.

Just say we won and leave Iraq

The Democratic presidential pack is desperate. Five senators, a governor and a representative are seeking one surefire way to capture hearts, minds and votes whenever they are asked what should be done about Iraq now that post-surge statistics show violence there has at least temporarily declined.

Their quandary is based on a false perception that many think and no one speaks: The misguided notion that good news for the U.S. military is bad news for Democratic presidential prospects.