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 17, 2013

  • Obama, Syria and the Aspin Doctrine

    By Doyle McManus. Los Angeles Times

    As President Obama contemplates his many bad options in Syria, he may want to consider the Aspin Doctrine, an argument for intervention abroad made by President Clinton's first secretary of Defense, Les Aspin.

    In 1993, the Clinton administration was wrestling with a seemingly insoluble conflict in Bosnia, where Serbian-backed troops were besieging cities and slaughtering civilians.

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Jun 14, 2013

  • U.S. Is Said to Plan to Send Weapons to Syrian Rebels

    By Mark Mazzetti, Michael R. Gordon and Mark Landler, The New York Times

    The Obama administration, concluding that the troops of President Bashar al-Assad of Syria have used chemical weapons against rebel forces in his country’s civil war, has decided to begin supplying the rebels for the first time with small arms and ammunition, according to American officials.

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  • U.S. to Provide Syrian Rebels Military Support

    By Alexis Simendinger, Real Clear Politics

    The United States is confident the brutal regime of Syria’s Bashar al-Assad used chemical weapons against his own people multiple times “in the last year,” contributing to President Obama’s latest decision to dispatch direct military support to the rebels while continuing to pursue a negotiated political settlement in consultation with allies, the United Nations and Congress, the White House announced Thursday evening.

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  • GOP Border Security Plan Rejected in Senate

    By Alan Gomez, USA Today

    The battle over border security started on the Senate floor Thursday with a defeat for Republicans looking to ensure that the southwest border with Mexico is locked down before any of the nation's 11 million unauthorized immigrants can gain legal status.

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  • Strange Bedfellows: Why Marco Rubio and Rand Paul Need Each Other

    By Beth Reinhard, National Journal

    Rand Paul and Marco Rubio may go head-to-head in a fierce competition for the Republican presidential nomination in 2016. But a funny thing is happening on the way to the White House: The would-be rivals have found themselves in a light bromance, each needing to bask in the other's glow for their own political purposes.

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  • Confidence in Congress drops to historic low

    By Ed O'Keefe, The Washington Post

    Lawmakers looking to become more popular with Americans should consider working at a bank. Or for a newspaper.

    Americans’ confidence in the House and Senate has dropped so low that it now ranks as the least popular societal institution in U.S. history, according to a Gallup poll released Thursday.

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  • The Post Office: First-Class Dilemma for Taxpayers

    With David Wessel, Wall Street Journal

    Would you invest the Post Office? Sales volume and revenue has shrunk, and it lost $15 billion last year. But if you’re an American taxpayer, you own it. Economics editor David Wessel reports.

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  • A Hollow Military Again?

    By James Kitfield, National Journal

    Even in the best of times, U.S. leaders have stumbled trying to manage the tricky transition between war and what comes after. Following every “war to end all wars,” the American people demand a “peace dividend” that often cuts defense spending too deep for too long, eroding military preparedness. Congress resists shuttering unneeded bases, stopping unnecessary weapons production, or decommissioning excess reserve units that represent jobs in home districts. The result is military forces that are unbalanced and inefficient. The Pentagon plans to fight the last war, only with a smaller force, rather than adjusting adequately to new limitations and threats on the horizon.

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Jun 13, 2013

  • Analysis: Top Court's Gay Marriage Ruling Won't Be Last Word

    By Joan Biskupic, Reuters

    Whatever the U.S. Supreme Court decides this month, gay marriage appears destined to face several more years of legal debate and at least one more round of argument at the high court.

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  • Republicans Walk Immigration Tightrope

    By Reid Wilson, National Journal's Hotline

    As the Senate begins debate on a sweeping overhaul to the nation's immigration system, some Republicans worry they'll find themselves stuck between a rock and border fence.

    And they have good reason to be anxious. The bill presents political opportunities for the Republican Party as a whole, and its efforts to refresh a conversation with the rapidly-growing population of Hispanic voters. It also presents a field of landmines for individual members who face competing interests at home, from business communities that support the bill and conservative activists who oppose it.

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  • After gun bill’s defeat, it’s Democrats, not Republicans, paying the political price

    By Ed O'Keefe and Paul Kane, The Washington Post

    When Congress in April defeated an effort to strengthen the national background-check system for gun sales, it was mostly on the strength of Republican opposition. Less than two months later, proponents of stricter gun laws have decided that a small number of Democrats will make more productive targets.

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  • With Focus on Middle Class, Plan Aims to Recharge Economy

    By Jim Tankersley, The Washington Post

    The liberal Center for American Progress will release an extensive plan on Thursday aimed at ­recharging the U.S. economy through a barrage of education, trade and other policies meant to boost beleagured middle-class workers.

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  • Pay to Play (Before Everyone Else)

    With Eamon Javers, CNBC

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Jun 12, 2013

  • Booz Allen's Snowden Fired

    With Eamon Javers, CNBC

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  • The Obama Surveillance Revelations Are Pushing Liberals Over the Edge

    By Molly Ball, The Atlantic

    The email went out shortly after midnight Thursday, a few hours after the news broke about the Obama administration's large-scale monitoring of Americans' cell-phone records: "You are being spied on." 

    It was sent by the Progressive Change Campaign Committee, a leading liberal organization, to its list of supporters, and it asked them to sign a petition demanding an investigation of the cell-phone surveillance. "It's simply unacceptable," the email said.

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  • 'Gang of Eight' Immigration Bill Clears Senate hurdle

    By Alan Gomez and Susan Davis, USA Today

    The Senate overcame a critical hurdle on Tuesday toward advancing the first immigration overhaul in a generation that would affect the nation's 11 million unauthorized immigrants, all U.S. employers and future legal immigrants.

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  • Which Senators Voted to Debate the Immigration Bill? (And Who Didn’t)

    By Ed O'keefe, The Washington Post

    The Senate voted 82 to15 on Tuesday to bring up a comprehensive immigration reform bill for a debate that is expected to last weeks.

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  • A Presidential Tease

    By john Dickerson, Slate Magazine

    Hillary Clinton is now on Twitter. Yesterday she unlocked her account and unveiled a cheeky and impish personality. In her 160-character biography written under a thumbnail of her riding on a military transport plane as secretary of state, she referred to her various jobs—from first lady of Arkansas (FLOAR) to senator and secretary of state—and then called herself a "hair icon," "pantsuit aficionado," and “glass ceiling cracker.” It could have ended there on a note of winning self-deprecation, but it didn't. Referring to her future, it simply said "TBD …"


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Jun 11, 2013

  • Cryptic Overtures and a Clandestine Meeting Gave Birth to a Blockbuster Story

    By Charlie Savage and Mark Mazzetti, The New York Times

    The source had instructed his media contacts to come to Hong Kong, visit a particular out-of-the-way corner of a certain hotel, and ask — loudly — for directions to another part of the hotel. If all seemed well, the source would walk past holding a Rubik’s Cube.

    So three people — Glenn Greenwald, a civil-liberties writer who recently moved his blog to The Guardian; Laura Poitras, a documentary filmmaker who specializes in surveillance; and Ewen MacAskill, a Guardian reporter — flew from New York to Hong Kong about 12 days ago. They followed the directions. A man with a Rubik’s Cube appeared.

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  • Whistleblower Snowden Last Seen in Hong Kong

    With Eamon Javers, CNBC

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