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 15, 2013

  • Obama’s Second Term Clouded By Controversies

    By Dan Balz, The Washington Post

    After answering questions Monday morning about two of the controversies that have undermined his administration, President Obama flew off to New York to raise money for the Democratic Party. There, before partisan donors, he reflected on his second term and said he will continue to reach out to Republicans. “I sure want to do some governing,” he explained.

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  • Justifiable Cause

    By John Dickerson, Slate Magazine

    It must get confusing in the IT department at the Associated Press: Are you talking about the hackers who hacked our Twitter account or the Justice Department hackers who hacked our phones? Monday, the Associated Press reported that the Justice Department had secretly obtained two months of records of phone conversations by its reporters. Meanwhile, the Washington Post revealed that the Internal Revenue Service’s targeting of conservative groups was more widespread than first reported. Someone at the IRS also leaked information about conservative groups to ProPublica. The Environmental Protection Agency may also have made it easier for environmental groups to file Freedom of Information Act requests than conservative organizations.

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  • Energized by Washington Scandals, the Tea Party Is on a Roll

    By Beth Reinhard, National Journal

    The tea party is back.

    Just months after President Obama's reelection deflated conservative activists, a slew of rapidly unfolding scandals involving government malfeasance is giving the movement new life.

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  • Analysis: Once a Beacon, Obama Under Fire Over Civil Liberties

    By Joan Biskupic and David Ingram, Reuters

    He may have been the first African-American president of the Harvard Law Review and taught constitutional law at the University of Chicago. He may have written a book extolling constitutional values in a democracy. And he may have run for president on a civil liberties banner, pledging to reverse the legacy of George W. Bush.

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  • Ambassador Stevens Twice said No to Military Offers of More Security, U.S. Officials Say

    By Nancy A. Youssef, McClatchy Newspapers

    In the month before attackers stormed U.S. facilities in Benghazi and killed four Americans, U.S. Ambassador Christopher Stevens twice turned down offers of security assistance made by the senior U.S. military official in the region in response to concerns that Stevens had raised in a still secret memorandum, two government officials told McClatchy.

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May 14, 2013

  • IRS Officials in Washington Were Involved in Targeting of Conservative Groups

    By Juliet Eilperin and Zachary A. Goldfarb, Washington Post

    Internal Revenue Service officials in Washington and at least two other offices were involved with investigating conservative groups seeking tax-exempt status, making clear that the effort reached well beyond the branch in Cincinnati that was initially blamed, according to documents obtained by The Washington Post.

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  • Did Political Spin Hide the Truth of Benghazi?

    By Gloria Borger, CNN

    Ever since Watergate became the shorthand for a government run amok, the political cliché of our time has been about the political lesson of that era: That the coverup can be worse than the crime.

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  • Under Sweeping Subpoenas, Justice Department Obtained AP Phone Records in Leak Investigation

    By Sari Horwitz, Washington Post

    In a sweeping and unusual move, the Justice Department secretly obtained two months’ worth of telephone records of journalists working for the Associated Press as part of a year-long investigation into the disclosure of classified information about a failed al-Qaeda plot last year.

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  • Obama Dismisses Benghazi Claims

    By Janet Hook and Peter Nicholas, Wall Street Journal

    President Barack Obama sought to quell a partisan uproar over his administration's response to last year's terrorist assault in Benghazi, Libya, charging that Republican lawmakers are creating a "political circus" partly to raise campaign cash.

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  • How Benghazi, IRS controversies Killed Hope for Bipartisanship

    By John Dickerson, Slate Magazine

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  • IRS, Benghazi, AP: The Problems Pile Up for Obama

    By Alexis Simendinger, Real Clear Politics

    Sometimes when it rains on second-term presidents, they need more than an umbrella.

    President Obama tried Monday to dismiss as “political games” persistent questions about how the White House handled last year’s attacks in Benghazi, Libya, while at the same time a new uproar about IRS scrutiny of conservative advocacy organizations ignited on Capitol Hill. Obama said if IRS agents willfully exercised political bias, responsible personnel must be “held accountable.”

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  • Obama Hopes to ‘Break Fever’ of GOP in Tough Week

    With Julianna Goldman, Bloomberg News Watch more

May 13, 2013

  • Benghazi, IRS, immigration and repealing ‘Obamacare’ (again): The week to come in Congress

    By Ed O'Keefe, The Washington Post

    Scandal, not legislation, could dominate Congress this week as lawmakers in both parties continue to respond to revelations that the Internal Revenue Service gave extra scrutiny to conservative groups seeking tax-exempt status and continue to accuse the opposing party of playing politics with the attack at a U.S. diplomatic outpost in Benghazi, Libya.

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  • IRS Targeted Groups Critical of Government, Documents from Agency Probe Show

    By Juliet Eilperin, Washington Post

    At various points over the past two years, Internal Revenue Service officials singled out for scrutiny not only groups with “tea party” or “patriot” in their names but also nonprofit groups that criticized the government and sought to educate Americans about the U.S. Constitution, according to documents in an audit conducted by the agency’s inspector general.

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  • Did IRS Target Tea Party Groups?

    With John Harwood, CNBC

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  • Chairman of Benghazi Board Defends Its Decision Not to Question Clinton

    By Peter Baker, The New York Times

    The State Department board that reviewed last year’s attack on a diplomatic outpost in Libya never questioned Hillary Rodham Clinton, the secretary of state at the time, because it had already decided responsibility lay below her level, the board’s chairman said Sunday.

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  • Cyberattacks Against U.S. Corporations Are on the Rise

    By David E. Sanger and Nicole Perlroth, The New York Times

    A new wave of cyberattacks is striking American corporations, prompting warnings from federal officials, including a vague one issued last week by the Department of Homeland Security. This time, officials say, the attackers’ aim is not espionage but sabotage, and the source seems to be somewhere in the Middle East.

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  • House to Tackle Student-Loan Rates

    By Fawn Johnson, National Journal

    Last year they were blindsided. This year they are ready. House Republicans are preparing to pass legislation that would remedy, once and for all, the looming problem of student-loan interest rates. The fixed rate for need-based loans of 3.4 percent is set to double on July 1 unless Congress acts.

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May 10, 2013

  • Obama to Invoke Moms in Pitch for Health Exchanges

    By Alexis Simendinger, Real Clear Politics

    At the White House Friday, President Obama will help celebrate Mother’s Day with an event touting the benefits of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, while encouraging moms to cajole the young, healthy and uninsured members of their families to buy health coverage through new marketplaces that will be available to them after Oct. 1.

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  • Obamacare Déjà Vu: Yet Another House Vote Set

    By Jeff Zeleny, The New York Times

    Congress is poised to take a vote–again–to repeal the nation’s new health care law next week.

    It will be the 37th time, according to Congressional officials, that such a vote has taken place. It is not only a symbolic effort by House Republicans, it’s also a case of political déjà vu.

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