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Obama agenda: NSA reforms coming on Friday

The president will unveil NSA changes Friday. AP: “Ahead of his speech, Obama has been meeting with lawmakers, intelligence officials, technology companies and privacy groups. He's also considering more than 40 recommendations from a presidential commission that proposed broad changes to the NSA's powers. Obama is expected to announce curbs on U.S. spying on friendly foreign leaders. He's also seriously considering a plan that would strip the NSA of its ability to store phone record data from millions of Americans.” 

On NPR, as First Read predicted last week, Robert Gates clarified his “criticism” of the president, hitting “early reporting”: “Some of the early reporting suggested that he made the decision in December or November 2009 believing it wouldn’t work. I don’t believe that for a second. President Obama would never do that in my view. I think when he made that decision in November 2009, he believed that strategy would work. I think through the course of 2010, in significant part, due to continuing pushing on him by the Vice President and by others in the White House, his doubts about whether this strategy could succeed would grow. Leading, ultimately, in March of 2011 to the comments that I made that I felt that the President didn’t trust his commander and didn’t like Karzai and had lost faith in his own strategy.”

Gates really doesn’t like Vice President Biden. He said, “frankly, I believe it,” when asked about his comment that Biden’s been wrong on every foreign-policy issue over the last 40 years, because he thinks he’s anti-military. Despite that, he told CBS said both he and Clinton would be “good” presidents, but not enthusiastically for Biden. “Well, I suppose, to be even-handed, I would have to say I suppose he would.”

The Washington Post: “The U.S. military secretly deployed a small number of trainers and advisers to Somalia in October, the first time regular troops have been stationed in the war-ravaged country since 1993, when two helicopters were shot down and 18 Americans killed in the ‘Black Hawk Down’ disaster.” 

AP: “President Barack Obama and Senate Republicans are squaring off at the Supreme Court over the president's power to temporarily fill high-level positions. The high court is hearing arguments Monday in a politically charged dispute that also is the first in the nation's history to explore the meaning of a provision of the Constitution known as the recess appointments clause.”

“Sen. John Hoeven (R-N.D.) said he thinks President Obama will approve the proposed Keystone XL pipeline,” The Hill writes. He said, “I think they will because we keep pushing and I think if they turn it down I will be able to get enough of my Senate colleagues on both sides of the aisle to say 'no.' This is a necessary infrastructure, we've got to have it."