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Friday, June 7, 2013

Daily Political Wire

George Wenschhof

Chris Christe and Jeffrey Chiesa
Christie Appoints Chiesa to New Jersey Senate Seat - On Thursday, Chris Christie announced the appointment of a close ally, New Jersey Attorney General Jeffrey Chiesa, to serve as an interim replacement for the late Democratic Sen. Frank Lautenberg. Citing his family, Chiesa, who will be sworn in Monday, said he will not run in the special election to hold the seat beyond the fall. Chiesa is not an especially well-known figure, even within the Garden State, but he and the governor have a relationship that goes back over two decades.

Christie has scheduled the election to permanently fill Lautenberg’s Senate seat for Oct. 16. However, critics, have accused the governor of holding the Senate vote separately from November’s general election, which includes his own re-election race, to improve his positioning in the gubernatorial campaign. Opponents of the decision, including Democratic legislators and Christie’s opponent in the governor’s race, state Sen. Barbara Buono, may attempt to challenge the current election schedule. has more here.


The NY Times Critical of Obama's Use of Phone Taps - Based on an article in The Guardian published Wednesday night, we now know that the Federal Bureau of Investigation and the National Security Agency used the Patriot Act to obtain a secret warrant to compel Verizon’s business services division to turn over data on every single call that went through its system. We know that this particular order was a routine extension of surveillance that has been going on for years, and it seems very likely that it extends beyond Verizon’s business division. There is every reason to believe the federal government has been collecting every bit of information about every American’s phone calls except the words actually exchanged in those calls.

The administration has now lost all credibility on this issue. Mr. Obama is proving the truism that the executive branch will use any power it is given and very likely abuse it. That is one reason we have long argued that the Patriot Act, enacted in the heat of fear after the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks by members of Congress who mostly had not even read it, was reckless in its assignment of unnecessary and overbroad surveillance powers.  The NY Times has more here.


NSA Also Spies on Internet Users - The National Security Agency and the FBI are tapping directly into the central servers of nine leading U.S. Internet companies, extracting audio and video chats, photographs, e-mails, documents, and connection logs that enable analysts to track foreign targets, according to a top-secret document obtained by The Washington Post.
The program, code-named PRISM, has not been made public until now. It may be the first of its kind. The NSA prides itself on stealing secrets and breaking codes, and it is accustomed to corporate partnerships that help it divert data traffic or sidestep barriers. But there has never been a Google or Facebook before, and it is unlikely that there are richer troves of valuable intelligence than the ones in Silicon Valley.  The Washington Post has more here.


Obama To Meet with Chinese President Xi Today in California - President Barack Obama will complain to Chinese President Xi Jinping at a summit on Friday about alleged Chinese hacking of U.S. secrets, even as the White House faces growing questions at home over American government surveillance.

Meeting at the luxurious Sunnylands estate near Palm Springs in California, Obama will seek Xi's assurance that he takes seriously accusations of growing Chinese cyber spying, including snooping on advanced U.S. weapons designs.

"All nations need to abide by international norms and affirm clear rules of the road," a U.S. official told reporters in previewing the summit. "That's the backdrop to the discussions that the two presidents will have."

Dispute over cybersecurity could test the two men's ability to get along when they meet in the Californian desert in talks that are billed as an informal get-to-know-you encounter. has more here.


Obama in San Jose Today to Promote Health Care Act - President Obama will promote his signature healthcare law Friday as part of a pivotal campaign to encourage people to enroll in the law's new coverage options.

Obama is scheduled to discuss the law at a stop in San Jose, Calif. — an area where premiums for new insurance policies have come in lower than expected.

Obama plans to discuss the broad outlines of how the healthcare law works and highlight community partnerships aimed at promoting enrollment, senior administration officials said ahead of the speech. has more here.


Rep. Edward Markey
DSCC Buys Air Time for Markey in Massachusetts Senate Race - Republican strategists who monitor media activity in Massachusetts say the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee has purchased TV time, starting tomorrow, to help Rep. Edward J. Markey in the special election for Senate.

Markey — who just a few days ago started running a TV spot attacking GOP nominee Gabriel Gomez on abortion, guns and Social Security — continues to hold a narrow lead in the race, probably somewhere in the mid-single digits. But the margin has made Democrats nervous enough that they now appear prepared to throw their considerable weight behind their party’s nominee.

While the DSCC is poised to run TV ads, there is still little or no indication that any major GOP groups are preparing to rise to Gomez’s defense or to run ads attacking Markey in the final weeks of the contest. has more here.


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