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 04, 2014

  • 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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    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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  • Senate Veterans’ Affairs Committee chairman introduces proposal to overhaul VA

    By Ed O’Keefe, The Washington Post

    Senate Veterans’ Affairs Committee Chairman Bernard Sanders (I-Vt.) introduced a far-reaching proposal Sunday to overhaul health care for the nation’s veterans that would make it easier for the beleaguered Department of Veterans Affairs to hire and fire employees, lease new space for clinics and hospitals, and send veterans to outside providers if care isn’t available within 30 days.

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  • At Republican Leadership Conference, the struggle over the GOP’s future continues

    By Dan Balz, Washington Post

    There was plenty of strong rhetoric coming from the stage at the Republican Leadership Conference here this weekend. From “Duck Dynasty’s” Phil Robertson to Sen. Ted Cruz of Texas to a succession of others, the call for a return to first principles and strict adherence to conservative convictions was loud and clear.

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May 30, 2014

  • Shinseki Resigns as Veterans Affairs Chief Amid Furor Over Hospitals

    By Michael D. Shear, The New York Times

    Eric Shinseki resigned as secretary of the Veterans Affairs Department Friday after meeting face-to-face with President Obama about mounting evidence of widespread misconduct and mismanagement at the agency’s vast network of medical facilities.

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  • Calls for VA Secretary Eric Shinseki to resign intensify following watchdog report

    By Greg Jaffe and Ed O’Keefe, The Washington Post

    Veterans Affairs Secretary Eric K. Shinseki made an impassioned case Thursday to Democratic lawmakers and veterans groups that he can repair the Department of Veterans Affairs, even as calls for his resignation mounted and support from the White House appeared to wane.

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  • Lawmakers to Obama: Shinseki must go

    By Susan Davis, USA Today

    Confidence in Veterans Affairs Secretary Eric Shinseki disintegrated further Thursday on Capitol Hill, where a rising chorus of lawmakers in both parties said he should resign and let new leadership address systemic problems at VA medical centers.

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  • Critics Trash Obama’s Big Foreign Policy Address

    By Michael Crowley, TIME Magazine

    At West Point on Wednesday, President Barack Obama took his latest stab at defining a foreign policy vision he has spelled out many times before. His speech was less a grand intellectual exercise than a political gambit — meant to stanch a recent torrent of criticism about his foreign policy woes.

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  • Bush and Obama at West Point: Bookends of a Foreign Policy Era

    By Karen Tumulty, The Washington Post

    Two presidents. One stage. A dozen years apart.

    One was speaking to the West Point graduating class that would be the first to go off to a kind of war this country had never fought before. In that June 1, 2002, commencement address, George W. Bush made the case that in the post 9/11 era, " If we wait for threats to fully materialize, we will have waited too long. ... Our security will require all Americans to be forward-looking and resolute, to be ready for preemptive action when necessary to defend our liberty and to defend our lives."

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  • Obama says sports must take concussions more seriously

    By Christi Parsons, Tribune Newspapers

    President Obama said Thursday that he may have suffered a mild concussion more than once while playing football as a child, recalling a "ringing sensation" in his head that he simply shook off.

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May 29, 2014

  • Rebutting Critics, Obama Seeks Higher Bar for Military Action

    By Peter Baker, The New York Times

    As President Obama listens to assessments of his foreign policy these days, he grows deeply frustrated. Syria? Ukraine? Afghanistan? What more do his critics want him to do? Get into another war? Keep fighting one that has already become America’s longest?

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