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Former Justice Department lawyer says Bush’s domestic spying program is illegal

By PETE YOST

A former top national security lawyer at the Justice Department questions the Bush administration’s legal rationale for its warrantless eavesdropping program, newly released documents show.

David Kris, now the chief ethics and compliance officer at Time Warner Inc., said in a Jan. 19 e-mail that administration legal arguments put forth a month after the program was publicly disclosed had "a slightly after-the-fact quality or feeling to them."

Americans fear government is too secretive

By THOMAS HARGROVE and GUIDO H. STEMPEL III

Most Americans think the federal government operates with "too much secrecy" and overwhelmingly believe that public access to official records is critical to democracy, according to a Scripps Howard News Service poll.

First Amendment advocates hailed the findings of the survey of 1,007 adult residents of the United States conducted at the request of the American Society of Newspaper Editors as part of its observance of National Sunshine Week, which starts Sunday.

Better late than never?

By DALE McFEATTERS

It’s rather late in the game for President Bush to get tough on federal spending, which has risen by nearly half on his watch, but the president, as promised, has proposed a useful approach – the line-item veto.

He has asked Congress for this authority before, but this time his proposal is in the form of specific legislation and it has the support, however sincerely or insincerely, of the Republican congressional leadership.

Abramoff says Bush is lying about not knowing him

Convicted lobbyist Jack Abramoff says President Bush knew him well enough to joke with him about weightlifting. "What are you benching, buff guy?" Abramoff said Bush asked him. The president has said he doesn’t know Abramoff.

Abramoff said he finds it hard to believe Bush doesn’t remember the 10 or so photos he and members of his family had snapped with the president and first lady.

Judge rules U.S. violates alternative fuel laws

A federal judge ruled that the Bush administration is violating a 1992 law aimed at increasing the country’s use of alternative fuel vehicles.

The Department of Energy has ignored a requirement to set long-range goals for converting a percentage of the nation’s cars and light trucks to natural gas, ethanol, hydrogen and other nonpetroleum fuels, U.S District Judge William Alsup said in a ruling this week.

Congress wants age info on sex scenes on TV, film

The U.S. House of Representatives has approved child-safety legislation that includes a provision bringing some legitimate film and TV productions under the same federal-reporting requirements as X-rated films.

Under a provision inserted in the Children’s Safety and Violent Crime Reduction Act, the legislation would require "any book, magazine, periodical, film, videotape or other matter" that contains a simulated sex scene to come under the same government-filing requirements that adult films have to meet.

The ‘ex’ factor

By MARTIN SCHRAM

There may be hope for Washington yet. We may have found a solution for reversing the partisan politics of hate that has crippled governance in the nation’s capital.

Call it the X Factor. Or more accurately, the “Ex” Factor.

States provide battlefield for abortion war

By MARGARET TALEV
McClatchy Newspapers

First a celebration, then a fight over strategy, now a campaign on two fronts.

That’s how the nation’s anti-abortion movement has reacted since South Dakota last month became the first state among 10 contenders to pass a ban on abortion in order to test a shifting U.S. Supreme Court.

Patriot Act barely passes in House

By LAURIE KELLMAN

Law enforcement officials get to keep their antiterror tools, but with some new curbs, under the USA Patriot Act renewal passed by the House in a cliffhanger vote.

The 280-138 vote Tuesday evening passed by just two votes more than needed under House rules requiring a two-thirds majority for legislation handled on an expedited basis.

DeLay an easy winner in Texas GOP primary

Scandal-scarred U.S. Rep. Tom DeLay won handily in the Republican primary for his congressional seat on Tuesday, taking 61 percent of the votes against three opponents.

The race had been seen as a barometer of his political strength since he resigned as House majority leader following indictment in Texas on campaign finance charges and his friendlobbyist Jack Abramoff was indicted in a Washington corruption scandal.