Political Web, page A1 … for 3:00 PM ET, December 21, 2005
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Top Items:

John Schmidt / Chicago Tribune:
President had legal authority to OK taps  —  President Bush's post- Sept. 11, 2001, authorization to the National Security Agency to carry out electronic surveillance into private phone calls and e-mails is consistent with court decisions and with the positions of the Justice Department under prior presidents.
Marty Lederman / Balkinization:
Judge Posner and "Ad Hoc Initiatives" (i.e., Presidentially Sanctioned Felonies)  —  Judge Posner has an Op-Ed in the Washington Post this morning that is understandably receiving a lot of attention.  His argument is that the latest scandal reveals a serious gap in the legal intelligence-gathering laws.
Judd / Think Progress:
The 2002 Appeals Court Myth
Daniel J. Solove / Concurring Opinions:
Judge Posner's Troubling Call for Massive Surveillance
Washington Post:
Spy Court Judge Quits In Protest  —  Jurist Concerned Bush Order Tainted Work of Secret Panel  —  A federal judge has resigned from the court that oversees government surveillance in intelligence cases in protest of President Bush's secret authorization of a domestic spying program, according to two sources.
New York Times:
Spying Program Snared U.S. Calls  —  WASHINGTON, Dec. 20 - A surveillance program approved by President Bush to conduct eavesdropping without warrants has captured what are purely domestic communications in some cases, despite a requirement by the White House that one end of the intercepted conversations …
Hindrocket / Power Line:
Discussion: Sadly, No! and THE ASTUTE BLOGGER
Washington Post:
With Cheney's Vote, Senate Passes Budget Bill  —  Legislation Would Trim $40 Billion Over 5 Years  —  The Senate narrowly passed a $40 billion budget-cutting bill today, with Vice President Cheney casting the deciding vote after the chamber split 50-50 on the measure.
Andrew Taylor / Associated Press:
Cheney Breaks Senate Tie on Spending Cuts  —  WASHINGTON - The Republican-controlled Senate passed legislation to cut federal deficits by $39.7 billion on Wednesday by the narrowest of margins, 51-50, with Vice President Dick Cheney casting the deciding vote.
Discussion: The Left Coaster
H. Josef Hebert / Associated Press:
Senate Blocks Alaska Refuge Drilling  —  WASHINGTON - The Senate blocked an attempt to open an Alaska wildlife refuge to oil drilling Wednesday, foiling an attempt by drilling backers to force the measure through Congress as part of a must-have defense spending bill.
Discussion: The Left Coaster
Associated Press:
Senate rejects drilling in Alaska wildlife refuge  —  Republicans fail to garner enough support to avoid threat of filibuster  —  WASHINGTON - The Senate blocked oil drilling in an Alaska wildlife refuge Wednesday, rejecting a measure that had been put into a must-pass defense spending bill in an attempt to garner wider support.
Carl Hulse / New York Times:
In Still-Busy Senate, Showdown Is Today
Susan Schmidt / Washington Post:
Abramoff Reportedly Negotiating a Deal in Which He Would Plead Guilty, Testify  —  Former lobbyist Jack Abramoff, facing trial on fraud charges Jan. 9 in Florida, is negotiating a possible deal with the Justice Department, in which he would agree to plead guilty and cooperate …
TQA / The Questionable Authority:
Kitzcarnival  —  As most of you are undoubtedly aware, Judge Jones has handed down his anxiously-awaited decision in the Kitzmiller v. Dover lawsuit.  This post is (I hope) a one-stop for those interested in commentary on the ruling.  I've done my best to incorporate a wide range of blog posts and some more conventional news articles.
Laurie Goodstein / New York Times:
Judge Rejects Teaching Intelligent Design
Discussion: Althouse and Big Lizards
Howard Kurtz / Washington Post:
Barking Up Every Tree  —  I'm sleeping better at night.  —  Our federal authorities have things under control.  —  FBI counterterrorism agents are on the case, looking into any nefarious plots by People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals.  —  Documents obtained by the ACLU shows …
Rowan Scarborough / Washington Times:
Times faulted by 9/11panel
Max Boot / Los Angeles Times:
'Plame Platoon' is AWOL on new leaks  —  Highly classified programs have been revealed, which could provide real aid to our enemies.  So where's all that outrage now?  —  IT SEEMS like only yesterday that every high-minded politician, pundit and professional activist was in high dudgeon …
Richard Morin / Washington Post:
Majority of Americans Support Alito Nomination  —  A majority of Americans now support the confirmation of U.S. Appeals Court Judge Samuel A. Alito to the Supreme Court to fill the seat of retiring Associate Justice Sandra Day O'Connor, according to a new Washington Post-ABC News poll.
Phil Hirschkorn / CNN:
Officials: Sen. Clinton's GOP challenger to quit race  —  Adviser: Pirro plans to run for New York state attorney general  —  NEW YORK (CNN) — Jeanine Pirro, the longtime prosecutor who had been set to run against Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton next year, has decided to drop out of the U.S. Senate race …
Discussion: Wonkette
David Ignatius / Washington Post:
Revolt of the Professionals  —  The national security structure that the Bush administration created after Sept. 11, 2001, began to crumble this month because of a bipartisan revolt on Capitol Hill.  Newly emboldened legislators forced the administration to accept new rules for the interrogation …

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More Items:

Jason Leopold /
Leak probe not seen to end with Rove, lawyers say
Martin Crutsinger / Associated Press:
Economy Grows at Fastest Pace in 1 1/2 Years
Emanuele Ottolenghi / National Review:
The Light of the World  —  Let's embarrass Iran's evil regime.
Discussion: Atlas Shrugs and Solomonia
Gateway Pundit:
Hong Kong Democracy Advocates Win Legislative Showdown
Teen Guilty Of Manslaughter After Online Confession
Hotline On Call:
'02 Redux?  —  The most common comparison made to the upcoming …
Discussion: TAPPED
Chris Kromm / Facing South:
Why did people die in New Orleans?
Devlin Barrett / Associated Press:
Hillary Clinton says GOP deficit bill will increase abortions
Discussion: Slant Point

Earlier Picks:

Larry Neumeister / Seattle Post-Intelligencer:
Anti-terror squad created prosecution plan
Discussion: Kesher Talk
Tyler Kepner / New York Times:
Yanks Add Centerpiece in Damon
La Shawn / La Shawn Barber's Corner:
Do You Hate Black People?
Washington Post:
Clash Is Latest Chapter in Bush Effort to Widen Executive Power
Josh Meyer / Los Angeles Times:
Officials Fault Case Bush Cited
Discussion: Ezra Klein and War and Piece
Evan Hansen / Wired News:
Wikipedia Founder Edits Own Bio
Patrick Cockburn / Independent:
Iraq's election result: a divided nation
White House:
Press Briefing by Scott McClellan
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