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!

Dec 20, 2013

  • A Legacy in the Balance on Surveillance Policies

    By Peter Baker, The New York Times

    For President Obama, the proposed overhaul of the American surveillance state confronts him with a fundamental choice: Will he become the commander in chief many expected in 2008 or remain the one he became in 2009? Or is there a balance in between?

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  • Analysis - U.S. surveillance case: Tech may clash with 18th Century right

    By David Ingram and Joan Biskupic, Reuters

    A judge's bid this week to stop the U.S. government from collecting Americans' phone records raises a question that the U.S. Supreme Court has confronted before: at what point should modern technology force judges to revisit legal precedents?

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  • Lew sends letter to Congress warning of debt limit

    With Eamon Javers, CNBC

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  • Congress approves reforms to address sexual assault, rape in military

    By Ed O’Keefe, The Washington Post

    Congress passed a broad set of changes to U.S. military personnel policy late Thursday, forcing the Pentagon to revamp how it deals with cases of sexual assault and rape in the ranks.

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  • 13 Unlikely Congressional Newsmakers of 2013

    By Fawn Johnson, National Journal

    We all knew coming into 2013 that Sen. Patty Murray and Rep. Paul Ryan would be important in the ongoing budget squabble. We also knew that Sens. Marco Rubio, Rand Paul, and Ted Cruz would be worth watching.

    But there are several lawmakers who made the spotlight this year, even if only briefly, that we didn't anticipate. Here are 13 of our favorite unlikely newsmakers.

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  • Step Away From The 2016 Polls

    By Amy Walter, Cook Political Report

    I don't hate polls. I am not all that bothered by talk of a 2016 presidential campaign that is almost three years away. What does make me apoplectic, however, is watching political commentators seriously analyze a poll taken in 2013 about potential 2016 presidential candidates.

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Dec 19, 2013

  • Officials want to limit controversial NSA program

    With Pete Williams, NBC News

    A report commissioned by President Obama recommends tighter legal control over the way an NSA data gathering program collects and use information it collects.

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  • Obama Is Urged to Sharply Curb N.S.A. Data Mining

    By David E. Sanger and Charlie Savage, The New York Times

    A panel of outside advisers urged President Obama on Wednesday to impose major oversight and some restrictions on the National Security Agency, arguing that in the past dozen years its powers had been enhanced at the expense of personal privacy.

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  • Obama Is Urged to Sharply Curb N.S.A. Data Mining

    By David E. Sanger and Charlie Savage, The New York Times

    A panel of outside advisers urged President Obama on Wednesday to impose major oversight and some restrictions on the National Security Agency, arguing that in the past dozen years its powers had been enhanced at the expense of personal privacy.

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  • What Edward Snowden started

    By Doyle McManus, Los Angeles Times

    Edward Snowden should be proud.

    Until this week, the National Security Agency could argue that its massive effort to collect every American's telephone records had been approved, at least tacitly, by all three branches of government.

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  • Senate passes bipartisan budget agreement

    By Lori Montgomery, The Washington Post

    Congress declared a holiday truce in the budget wars Wednesday, sending President Obama a blueprint for funding the government through 2015. But the next skirmish was already on the horizon: an election-year fight over the national debt.

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  • Tea-Party Candidates Shunned by Senate Idols

    By Beth Reinhard, National Journal

    Chris McDaniel sits atop a wave of conservative Republicans challenging sitting U.S senators from their own party, wielding a tea-party trifecta of endorsements from the Club for Growth, Senate Conservatives Fund, and FreedomWorks.

    Yet McDaniel is unlikely to receive support from any of his tea-party idols in the Senate who, in part, owe their own elections to those same groups.

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  • David Wessel: Fed Has Pulled Off Its Goal

    With David Wessel, Wall Street Journal

    WSJ Global Economics Editor David Wessel joins our post coverage of the Fed's decision on interest rates to give his take on Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke's final press conference.

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Dec 18, 2013

  • Budget Deal Offers a Reprieve From Washington Paralysis

    By Peter Baker and Jonathan Weisman, The New York Times

    Something odd happened here on Tuesday. The Senate advanced a two-year bipartisan budget deal that will now surely be sent to the president for his signature later this week without waiting for a cliff, a chasm, a deadline or a shutdown to force its hand.

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  • Note to Selfie

    By John Dickerson, Slate Magazine

    Some of my favorite memories and best ideas from last year are gone. I wrote them in a notebook I carried in my back pocket, and a few months ago, I left the notebook on a plane. Observations about my kids, story ideas, and thoughts about the world around me were lost. I replaced the notebook, and then last week, left the replacement notebook on a plane. This should win me some sort of prize.

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  • Senate vote clears budget deal for passage this week

    By Susan Davis, USA Today

    The Senate on Tuesday cleared a key procedural hurdle for final passage of a two-year, bipartisan budget deal before the end of the week.

    By a vote of 67-33, Senate Democrats easily surpassed the 60-vote threshold required to end debate and move toward approving the legislation, which is expected by Wednesday.

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  • Tech Leaders and Obama Find Shared Problem: Fading Public Trust

    By Jackie Calmes and Nick Wingfield, The New York Times

    President Obama met with top technology industry executives on Tuesday to discuss two seemingly distinct controversies: a faulty health care website, and the digital surveillance practices of the National Security Agency.

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  • Snowden's Document Leaks Shocked The NSA, And More May Be On The Way

    With Tom Gjelten and Melissa Block, NPR

    In the six months since leaks about NSA surveillance began, the intelligence community has struggled to cope with the ramifications of the unauthorized disclosures. With the scandal still reverberating, we take a year-end look at how NSA contractor Edward Snowden got the documents, the scale of what he took, what other categories of documents might still be revealed.

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  • Majority of Americans want minimum wage to be increased, poll finds

    By Michael A. Fletcher and Peyton M. Craighill, Washington POST

    A large majority of Americans want Congress to substantially increase the minimum wage as part of an effort to reduce the nation’s expanding economic inequality, according to a new Washington Post-ABC News poll.

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Dec 17, 2013

  • Federal judge says NSA program appears to violate Constitution

    By Pete Williams, NBC News

    A federal judge ruled Monday that the National Security Agency’s gathering of data on all telephone calls made in the United States appears to violate the Constitution’s protection against unreasonable searches.

    The judge, Richard Leon of U.S. District Court in Washington, said that the NSA relied on “almost-Orwellian technology” that would have been unimaginable a generation ago, at the time of a landmark Supreme Court decision on phone records.

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