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Secret—Even From Congress
Glenn Greenwald of The Guardian, who wrote those earthshaking stories about the National Security Agency and former contractor Edward Snowden, has a new one that everyone would be wise to read regardless of how you feel about surveillance or Snowden.
The Obama administration has been quick to make the point that Congress is apprised of the NSA's surveillance. That may be true of committee chairs and ranking members, but in a new piece Greenwald shows how hard it is for rank-and-file members to get information about America's surveillance programs.
Greenwald chronicles the frustrations of Reps. Morgan Griffith, R-Va., and Alan Grayson, D-Fla. "How can I responsibly vote on a program I know very little about?" Griffith told Greenwald. The article is here. The paper trails of Grayson's efforts are here, and Griffith's here.
OBAMA TAX PUSH REAWAKENS DEBATE FOR SMALL BUSINESSES. President Obama's proposal to lower the tax rate for corporations from 35 percent to 28 percent is reviving a debate in the small-business world that rates should also be lowered for individuals, The Washington Post reports. Echoing arguments made when the president pushed to raise taxes on the wealthy, many small-business advocates are unhappy with Obama's efforts, claiming that their tax rates are directly linked to individual rates. "A corporate-only approach to tax reform will ensure that small business shoulders a much greater tax burden than mega-corporations that have been gaming the system for years," said Dan Danner, president of the National Federation of Independent Business. Read more
Republican governors pushed their fellow party members in Congress to avoid shutting down the government in an ongoing effort to derail funding for the Affordable Care Act, The New York Times reports. Read more
SOME U.S. EMBASSIES, CONSULATES TO REMAIN CLOSED UNTIL SATURDAY. Citing an "abundance of caution" and insisting there was not an emergence of a new threat, the State Department said in a statement Sunday that 19 embassies and consulates in the Middle East and North Africa will remain closed until Saturday, USA Today reports. New diplomatic posts in central and eastern Africa, including in the capitals of Burundi and Rwanda, have joined the list of closed facilities originally announced Friday. "Out of an abundance of caution, we've decided to extend the closure of several embassies and consulates including a small number of additional posts," the statement read. A worldwide travel alert also remains in effect through August. Read more
The travel alert and embassy closures were prompted last week by an intercepted electronic communication from the head of al-Qaida in Pakistan sent to the terrorist organization's affiliate in Yemen that ordered an attack as soon as this past Sunday, The New York Times reports. Read more
CARNEY: U.S. WILLING TO WORK WITH IRAN IF NUCLEAR CONCERNS ADDRESSED. White House press secretary Jay Carney addressed the inauguration of Iranian President Hassan Rouhani on Sunday, The Hill reports. "The inauguration of President Rouhani presents an opportunity for Iran to act quickly to resolve the international community's deep concerns over Iran's nuclear program," Carney said. "Should this new government choose to engage substantively and seriously to meet its international obligations and find a peaceful solution to this issue, it will find a willing partner in the United States." Read more
The Wall Street Journal reports that Iran could start producing weapons-grade plutonium by summer 2014 using a different nuclear technology. Read more
DIVIDED GOP MEMBERS TRADE ATTACKS—WITH EACH OTHER. Bespeaking a fragmented party unsure of where to chart its course after a drubbing in the 2012 presidential election, Republicans are ratcheting up hostilities against one another, the Associated Press reports. "I didn't start this one and I don't plan on starting things by criticizing other Republicans," Sen. Rand Paul of Kentucky said recently, referencing his feud with New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, just one of many lately pitting the GOP against itself. "But if they want to make me the target, they will get it back in spades." Meanwhile, some tea-party loyalists feel many of their former standard-bearers are betraying their cause for a more moderate and electable flavor of conservatism. Read more
EGYPTIAN ISLAMISTS REJECT INTERNATIONAL PRESSURE TO CEASE PROTESTS. The Muslim Brotherhood on Monday scoffed at requests from international envoys to accept that deposed President Mohamed Morsi is gone and will not return to power, Reuters reports. Attempting to calm the political crisis, a military source said the interim government will offer to free some jailed Muslim Brotherhood leaders, unfreeze the Islamist group's assets, and hand the group three ministerial spots. A Cairo court ruled over the weekend that three top officials of the Brotherhood, charged with inciting violence within their group that led to the death of rioters after Morsi's ouster on July 3, will go on trial Aug. 25. Read more
McCONNELL RETURNS TO FARM TO WARD OFF ATTACKS FROM BOTH SIDES. Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell was caught at an annual weekend picnic gathering in Fancy Farm, Ky., fending off challenges from both Democrats and a conservative Republican, The Courier-Journal reports. His likely Democratic challenger, Kentucky Secretary of State Alison Lundergan Grimes, accused McConnell of contributing to Washington gridlock, while Republican businessman Matt Bevin charged the five-term incumbent with failing to stand up against Obama. "I don't intend to run to the right of Mitch McConnell. I don't intend to run to the left of Mitch McConnell. I intend to run straight over the top of Mitch McConnell and right into the U.S. Senate," Bevin said. Read more
The election is still 15 months away, but the Fancy Farm picnic shows the Kentucky race for Senate is going to be long, drawn out, and contentious, BuzzFeed's Kate Nocera writes. Read more
SUMMER RECESS? NOT FOR LOBBYING GROUPS. Though lawmakers have fled town during the August recess to vacation in exotic locales or interface with voters back home, many interest groups are refusing to indulge in the annual summer siesta, instead using the break to push their causes in different ways, The Washington Post reports. "If you're going to get anything to move, you have to appeal to the lawmakers back at home," said a veteran Republican communications strategist. Liberal groups in particular are seeing the month as a unique opportunity in the ongoing political messaging wars, and Obama has even asked supporters to speak out on a wide array of issues as part of an "Action August" campaign. Read more
DSCC ADVERTISING FOCUSING ON GOP PRIMARIES DURING RECESS. The Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee is launching an online ad campaign today to draw attention to competitive Republican primaries in 2014, Roll Call reports. The "GOP Tea Party Primary-Palooza" will run during the August recess, and Democrats hope that it will help prevent the GOP from claiming the net gain of six seats it needs to win a majority in the Senate. Democrats think that an unstable GOP field in Georgia and the emergence of Matt Bevin in the race for Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell's Kentucky seat might improve the chance that Democratic candidates will win election by weakening GOP candidates for the general election. Read more
IS THE 2016 PRESIDENTIAL FIELD A FIELD OF DREAMS? Governors, senators, and representatives are all making moves in preparation for the 2016 presidential race. Democratic Gov. Martin O'Malley of Maryland told reporters on Saturday that he is laying the "framework of a candidacy for 2016." Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, will deliver the keynote address at a major party event in Iowa come October, and Rep. Peter King, R-N.Y., started a two-day tour of New Hampshire this morning, in the first sign of his presidential ambitions. Also, the National Governors Association's summer meeting drew a slew of potential candidates to Milwaukee over the weekend, including the normally gregarious New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, who kept a low profile during the meetings.
OBAMA TRAVELING TO ARIZONA TO DISCUSS HOMEOWNERSHIP. Obama on Tuesday will travel to Desert Vista High School in Phoenix, where he will deliver the latest in a series of economic policy addresses. According to the White House, the president will "lay out his plan to continue to help responsible homeowners and those Americans who seek to own their own homes as another cornerstone of how we strengthen the middle class." Obama will also attend a fundraiser. Read more
"Let's tell it like it is. If the doctors told Sen. McConnell he had a kidney stone, he wouldn't pass it." -- Kentucky Secretary of State Alison Lundergan Grimes, a Democrat (The Hill)
DON'T MESS WITH TEXAS? In mid-2008, attorneys Tim Garrigan and David Guillory filed a class-action lawsuit against officials in the town of Tenaha, Texas, and in surrounding Shelby County, for a civil forfeiture program that in its first six months netted $1.3 million, The New Yorker's Sarah Stillman reports. Barry Washington, a former Texas state trooper, started the program, which, Stillman writes, left drivers "stripped of cash, valuables, and, in at least one case, an infant child, without clear evidence of contraband." Though town, state, and county officials decided to settle the lawsuit, the agreement doesn't ease the return of already-seized property. Vanita Gupta, the deputy legal director of the American Civil Liberties Union, said "there's no telling" how many other towns have similar practices. Read more
FOUR-YEAR-OLD BOY WINS SECOND MAYORAL TERM. Four-year-old Bobby Tufts was reelected Sunday as mayor of Dorset, Minn., "which bills itself as the Restaurant Capital of the World," the Associated Press reports. Bobby, who was first named mayor at age 3, was selected during a drawing at the Taste of Dorset festival. The town lacks a formal government, and its population ranges from 22 to 28, "depending on whether the minister and his family are in town." Read more
TODAY'S PHOTO GALLERY
WHAT TO GET THE LEADER OF THE FREE WORLD ON HIS BIRTHDAY. Obama turned 52 on Sunday, and celebrated the occasion by playing a round of golf at Joint Base Andrews with White House aides and friends from Chicago and Hawaii. In honor of the milestone, BuzzFeed has compiled a list of "33 Things Obama Really Wants For His Birthday." Highlights include "a traveling masseuse," "Will.i.am's hat," and "some privacy." See it here