Essential Reads

Essential Reads is your one-stop source for the top stories of the day as reported by your favorite Washington Week panelists. It's a simple way to save time and stay informed about the news you need to know. Check it out every day!

May 24, 2013

  • Obama Puts Restrictions on Drone Program

    By Christi Parsons and Ken Dilanian, Los Angeles Times

    Reining back the aggressive counter-terrorism strategy he has embraced for five years, President Obama declared clear, public restrictions for the first time on using unmanned aircraft to kill terrorists, a shift likely to significantly reduce U.S. drone strikes in Pakistan and elsewhere.

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  • C.I.A. to Focus More on Spying, a Difficult Shift

    By Mark Mazzetti, The New York Times

    For more than seven years, Mike — a lean, chain-smoking officer at the Central Intelligence Agency’s headquarters in Virginia — has managed the agency’s deadly campaign of armed drone strikes. As the head of the C.I.A.’s Counterterrorism Center, Mike wielded tremendous power in hundreds of decisions over who lived and died in far-off lands.

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  • Obama Bully Pulpit Bullied With Congress Probes Obscuring Agenda

    By Julianna Goldman, Bloomberg News

    President Barack Obama renewed his oath of office in January vowing to use the bully pulpit to rally the American people around his second-term agenda.

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  • Tea Party vs. Old Guard in GOP Senate Rift

    By Charles Babington and Andrew Taylor, Associated Press

    A long-simmering feud between establishment Republicans and tea partyers broke into full view, with Sen. John McCain accusing younger colleagues of overplaying their hands and tempting Democrats to change Senate rules that protect the minority party.

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  • IRS Official Lois Lerner Placed on Leave Amid Scandal

    By Ed O’Keefe and Juliet Eilperin, Washington Post

    The Internal Revenue Service official responsible for the office that targeted certain organizations seeking tax-exempt status was placed on paid administrative leave Thursday, making her the second senior official to be disciplined in the wake of the scandal.

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May 23, 2013

  • Obama, in a Shift, to Limit Targets of Drone Strikes

    By Peter Baker and Charlie Savage, The New York Times

    President Obama plans to open a new phase in the nation’s long struggle with terrorism on Thursday by restricting the use of unmanned drone strikes that have been at the heart of his national security strategy and shifting control of them away from the C.I.A. to the military.

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  • Holder Acknowledges U.S. Citizens Killed In Drone Strikes

    By Carrie Johnson, NPR

    For the first time, the U.S. government has acknowledged killing four American citizens in lethal drone strikes far outside traditional battlefields, confirming information that had been widely known but has only recently been unclassified under orders of the president.

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  • Poll: Most Back ‘Path to Citizenship,’ Setting Up Tough Choice for GOP Lawmakers

    By Dan Balz and Jon Cohen, The Washington Post

    Comprehensive immigration reform will now move to the Senate floor in June with solid overall support from the public. But a bare majority of Republican voters oppose a path to legal status for undocumented immigrants. Most of those against the idea say they won’t back congressional candidates who are supportive of the plan, highlighting conflicting pressures on GOP lawmakers as they consider the politics of their votes.

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  • Ted Cruz's Path From George W. Bush Adviser to Immigration Reform Opponent

    By Beth Reinhard, National Journal

    In 2000, Ted Cruz was known as a Texas-raised, Harvard-trained domestic policy adviser to the George W. Bush campaign. Bush was a two-term governor from a border state who was determined to fix what he saw as a broken, inhumane immigration system.

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  • Analysis: In Any Scandal, Lying to Congress is Tough to Prove

    By Joan Biskupic and Kim Dixon, Reuters

    When embattled Internal Revenue Service official Lois Lerner was called before a congressional committee Wednesday, she declared that she had done nothing wrong - but said she did not intend to testify. Her defiance only turned up the heat from Republicans who have threatened to take her to court for misleading Congress.

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  • The IRS Hearings: Winners and Losers

    By Ed O’Keefe and Aaron Blake, Washington Post

    Everyone wants a piece of the Internal Revenue Service these days, which is why agency officials have been subjected to three congressional hearings over the past week.

    So now that the dust has settled, who came out on top? Who didn’t?

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May 22, 2013

  • Storm Renews Debate About How to Pay for Disaster Aid

    By Susan Davis, USA Today

    Lawmakers publicly assured Oklahoma tornado victims on Tuesday that the federal government stands ready to assist in the recovery effort, but a potential financial aid package renewed debate Tuesday over how to pay for disaster relief.

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  • IRS Scandal Focus of Senate Hearing

    By Ed O'Keefe, The Washington Post

    The Bush administration appointee who led the Internal Revenue Service during President Obama’s first term told Congress on Tuesday that he was saddened by some of the agency’s actions regarding applications for tax-exempt status during his tenure.

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  • First Hurdle Cleared in Immigration, but Bigger Ones Remain

    By Fawn Johnson, National Journal

    The first step in passing major immigration legislation went pretty smoothly, all things considered. The Senate Judiciary Committee late Tuesday approved a bill that would give 11 million undocumented immigrants a path to citizenship and require employers to electronically verify all new hires.

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  • White House Says Journalists Should Not Be Subject to Criminal Action in Leak Cases

    By Peter Baker, The New York Times

    The White House said on Tuesday that it did not think the Justice Department should threaten criminal action against journalists who report on sensitive national security matters, distancing itself from a recent case in which a television correspondent was targeted as a possible “co-conspirator” in a leak investigation.

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  • The White House To-Do List

    By John Dickerson, Slate Magazine

    When White House Chief of Staff Denis McDonough told his colleagues last week to spend no more than 10 percent of their time responding to scandals, he didn’t know a tornado would devastate entire stretches of Oklahoma. He knew something like it would happen though. A chief of staff knows that White House plans are always being upset, so he reminds his staff: Don’t get too distracted, bigger distractions are always on the horizon.

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  • Republican Divisions May Hinder Party's Momentum

    By Charles Babington, Associated Press

    A string of unrelated events is highlighting divisions among Republicans just when they'd like to show a united front and take full advantage of President Barack Obama's latest political problems.

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May 21, 2013

  • White House Says It Didn’t Loop Obama In on I.R.S. Inquiry

    By Peter Baker and Jonathan Weisman, The New York Times

    White House officials were first notified on April 16 about an investigation into Internal Revenue Service scrutiny of conservative groups and discussed its potential findings with the Treasury Department but never told President Obama, the White House said Monday.

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  • Congress Expands Inquiry into IRS Handling of Conservative Groups

    By Christi Parsons and Matea Gold, Los Angeles Times

    Congressional investigators are broadening their inquiry into the Internal Revenue Service's mishandling of groups seeking tax-exempt status, indicating that they plan to examine how the agency dealt with a wide swath of nonprofit applications during the last three years.

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  • Letter to a Young Scandalmonger

    By John Dickerson, Slate Magazine

    My Dear Protégé:

    I note in your most recent correspondence that you have used the term “Watergate” in connection with the recent troubles facing The Administration. You take a view popular among our kind that raising the specter of this famous scandal will convince your prey to turn against The One. I would like to counsel you against walking this path.

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