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!

Jun 05, 2014

  • Behind P.O.W.’s Release: Urgency and Opportunity

    By Eric Schmitt, Mark Mazzetti, David E. Sanger and Helene Cooper, The New York Times

    Weeks before a Black Hawk helicopter lifted off in the dying light of eastern Afghanistan, carrying with it an American soldier who had spent five years in the hands of the Taliban, American officials grew increasingly worried that Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl’s life might be in jeopardy.

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  • Obama, Seeking Unity on Russia, Meets Obstacles

    By Peter Baker, The New York Times

    President Obama started his day in Warsaw struggling to convince his friends in Central and Eastern Europe that the United States is being tough enough with Russia. He ended his day in Brussels, still struggling, but this time to persuade America’s core Western allies to stay tough with Russia.

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  • Senators working on new bipartisan deal to fix VA

    By Ed O’Keefe, The Washington Post

    Senior senators are working on a new plan to address concerns at the Department of Veterans Affairs with hopes of striking a bipartisan deal in the coming days that would help address long wait times for veterans seeking medical care at government-run facilities.

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  • Mississippi Mud

    By John Dickerson, Slate Magazine

    The candidate who boasted she had castrated hogs won the Republican Senate primary in Iowa Tuesday, and in the bitter Mississippi GOP primary race, it might just come to that. The fight in the Magnolia State has been ugly, weird, full of old grudges and fault lines, and new national rancor over the soul of the Republican Party. Now the contest has been thrown into a three-week runoff.

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Jun 04, 2014

  • Tuesday’s primaries: The winners ... and more

    By Charles Babington, Associated Press

    On a day with primary elections in eight states, the marquee race in Mississippi, where six-term GOP Sen. Thad Cochran faced his toughest re-election fight ever, remained too close to call hours after the polls closed. The state’s Republican establishment backed Cochran against state Sen. Chris McDaniel, a favorite of the tea party.

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  • In Show of Support, Obama Meets With Ukraine Leader

    By Peter Baker, The New York Times

    President Obama met on Wednesday for the first time with the newly elected president of Ukraine and pledged American support for efforts to stabilize a country torn by corruption, economic turmoil and a violent pro-Russian insurgency broadly believed to be fomented by Moscow.

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  • Bowe Bergdahl: Terrorist Hostage or POW?

    By Michael Crowley, TIME Magazine

    The freed American soldier was held by an officially designated terror group. But a White House official tells TIME, "We did not negotiate with the Haqqanis."

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  • Taliban release video of Bergdahl handoff to U.S.

    By Christi Parsons and Kathleen Hennessey, Los Angeles Times

    A Pentagon spokesman said Wednesday that American defense officials "have no reason to doubt" the authenticity of a newly released video that appears to show the calm and peaceful handoff of Army Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl by his Taliban captors to U.S. custody last weekend.

  • Critics Are Questioning American Military Credo of Leaving No One Behind

    By Eric Schmitt, Mark Mazzetti and Peter Baker, The New York Times

    The deadly rescue mission in Afghanistan in 2002 began when Petty Officer First Class Neil C. Roberts, a member of the Navy’s classified SEAL Team Six, fell out of a helicopter that came under enemy fire as it tried to land on the snowy ridge line of an 11,000-foot mountain.

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  • White House first discussed Bergdahl prisoner exchange with lawmakers in 2011

    By Ed O’Keefe, The Washington Post

    Obama administration officials first discussed with senior House Republicans the possibility of swapping five terrorism detainees from the U.S. detention facility at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, in exchange for the release of Army Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl in late November 2011, according to senior GOP aides.

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Jun 03, 2014

  • Obama, in Warsaw, Pledges Solidarity With Eastern Europe

    By Peter Baker, The New York Times

    As he began a four-day trip to Europe, President Obama announced new measures intended to bolster security in Central and Eastern Europe in response to Russia’s intervention in the crisis in Ukraine, including its annexation of Crimea.

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  • Obama defends swap of Taliban detainees for Army Sgt. Bergdahl

    By Christi Parsons and Kathleen Hennessey, Los Angeles Times

    President Obama defended his administration’s decision to trade Taliban detainees for the release of Army Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl on Tuesday, saying there wasn’t time to consult with Congress as he followed the “pretty sacred rule” that Americans don’t leave men and women in uniform behind on the field of battle.

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  • Military brass wades into POW desertion debate

    By Hannah Alam, McClatchy News

    After three days of sidestepping the issue, U.S. military leaders are tentatively addressing the desertion controversy surrounding a freed American prisoner of war whose case has sparked a tide of anger from service members and war veterans who question the circumstances of Army Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl's capture by the Taliban five years ago.

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  • Poll: Americans back Afghan pullout, deeply concerned by VA scandal

    By Dan Balz and Scott Clement, The Washington Post

    President Obama enjoys widespread support for his decision to withdraw U.S. forces from Afghanistan by the end of 2016, but the aftermath of more than a decade of wars has left him with a scandal at the Department of Veterans Affairs that has united the entire country in its alarm over the problems, according to a new Washington Post-ABC News poll.

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  • Mississippi Senate race tops Tuesday's 8 primaries

    By Charles Babington, Associated Press

    Strange, unsavory twists in Mississippi's Senate Republican race are grabbing the most attention of Tuesday's primary elections in eight states.

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  • America’s Next Decider

    By John Dickerson, Slate Magazine

    T-minus 12 days and counting until June 10, when Hillary Clinton launches her campaign. That’s the date of the release of her book, Hard Choices, though the campaign has really already begun. On Wednesday a video was posted to the book’s Facebook page in which Clinton explained what she was trying to say. The day before, her publisher released the Author’s Note. Last week Simon & Schuster released a video in which Clinton discussed the writing process. Two weeks ago an excerpt ran in Vogue in which Clinton talked about her mother. The day before Clinton’s book hits stores, Diane Sawyer will sit down to interview the former secretary of state. And on and on the caravan will go. (Modern Dog magazine may have rights to the canine passages.)

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Jun 02, 2014

  • Unveiling New Carbon Plan, E.P.A. Focuses on Flexibility

    By Coral Davenport, The New York Times

    The Obama administration on Monday announced one of the strongest actions ever taken by the United States government to fight climate change, a proposed Environmental Protection Agency regulation to cut carbon pollution from the nation’s power plants 30 percent from 2005 levels by 2030, according to people briefed on the plan.

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  • Hagel Celebrates U.S. Soldier’s Release With a Surprise Afghan Visit

    By Helene Cooper, The New York Times

    Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl had departed for Landstuhl Medical Center in Germany eight hours before, but that did not stop Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel from taking a figurative victory lap around this base to celebrate the release of the lone remaining American prisoner of war in the Afghan conflict.

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  • Bergdahl release arrangement could threaten the safety of Americans, Republicans say

    By Karen Tumulty, The Washington Post

    Amid jubilation Saturday over the release of U.S. Army Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl from captivity by the Taliban, senior Republicans on Capitol Hill said they were troubled by the means by which it was accomplished, which was a deal to release five Afghan detainees from the military prison in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba.

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  • THE OBAMA PARADOX

    By Carrie Budoff Brown and Jennifer Epstein, Politico

    The ritual started in earnest last fall in the midst of the biggest humiliation of Barack Obama’s presidency, the failure of the health care website. Anytime he heard a sliver of good news, the president reacted the same way: He knocked on the polished cherry wood table in the Roosevelt Room.

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