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CIA's extensive anti-terror program goes largely unchallenged despite increasing criticism of surveillance tactics; Bush is a firm believer in the covert effort. Official: "Everything is done in the name of self-defense, so they can do anything because nothing is forbidden in the war powers act. It's an amazing legal justification that allows them to do anything." [WP]


Bush pardoned 11 people last week; "he seems inclined to show mercy to people who have surmounted their mistakes." [USAT]

Laura Bush "blends private advice with understated public prodding, using her ample popularity as ballast for her husband." [WSJ]

With scrutiny over Jack Abramoff, lawmakers say no to free tickets to sporting events. [WSJ]

New line of succession at the Pentagon ranks the undersecretaries for intelligence, policy and acquisition ahead of the secretaries of the Army, Air Force and Navy. Expert: "Rumsfeld doesn't do things randomly. His inner circle is the key group." [WP]

Gen. Peter Pace clarifies his disagreement with Rumsfeld: it was a non-disagreement. [NYT]

Every port of entry to the country now has US-Visit, "which takes fingerprints and digital photos of many entering foreigners to check them against criminal and terrorist watch lists." [NYT]

Sen. Charles Grassley (R-Iowa) questions whether the leadership of the Red Cross "meets the high level of competence and engagement that Congress and the public should expect." [WP, NYT]

Social workers fear the consequences of new border-security bill that would make it unlawful to help illegal immigrants. [NYT]

Lawmakers are finally ready to end an "obscure interest rate subsidy for providers of student loans." [WP]

Greenpeace, Earthjustice, Friends of the Earth and the National Environmental Trust are lobbying against the nomination of Samuel Alito. [WT]

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