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First Read's Morning Clips

A roundup of the most important political news stories of the day

OBAMA AGENDA: Previewing the Torture report

Andrea Mitchell on, on the Senate CIA report: "The report is expected to conclude that the CIA repeatedly tortured around 20 detainees after 9/11, including three by the simulated drowning tactic known as waterboarding. It is also expected to accuse the CIA of repeatedly lying to Congress, the White House and the public."

2,000 Marines are on alert ahead of the release of the report.

The New York Times talks to former Vice President Dick Cheney: "“What I keep hearing out there is they portray this as a rogue operation, and the agency was way out of bounds and then they lied about it,” Mr. Cheney said in a telephone interview. “I think that’s all a bunch of hooey. The program was authorized. The agency did not want to proceed without authorization, and it was also reviewed legally by the Justice Department before they undertook the program.” Mr. Cheney said he never believed the C.I.A. was withholding information from him or the White House about the nature of the program, nor did he think the agency exaggerated the value of the intelligence gained from waterboarding and other techniques widely considered to be torture. “They deserve a lot of praise,” he said. “As far as I’m concerned, they ought to be decorated, not criticized.”"

Obama called racism and police enforcement a "systemic problem" in an interview on BET Monday, saying that "black folks aren't making this up."

The New York Times: "Mr. Obama has not been the kind of champion for racial justice that many African-Americans say this moment demands. In the days since grand juries in Missouri and Staten Island decided not to bring charges against white police officers who had killed unarmed black men, the president has not stood behind the protesters or linked arms with civil rights leaders. Although those closest to Mr. Obama insist that he feels a new urgency to capitalize on the attention to racial divisions, few dispute that he is personally conflicted and constrained by the position he holds."

"Americans by nearly 3-1 say the white police officer responsible for the death of Eric Garner, an unarmed black man being arrested for selling cigarettes, should have faced charges from a Staten Island grand jury, a nationwide USA TODAY/Pew Research Center poll finds."

The Washington Post notes that there’s little Republicans can do to stop hiring to implement the president’s executive action on immigration.

Here's the AP's review of Obama on The Colbert Report.

The Wall Street Journal reports that outgoing Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel is in Baghdad to discuss the fight against ISIS.

CONGRESS: CROmnibus update

POLITICO writes that the spending deal has hit a speed bump over a terrorism insurance program, but leaders still seem to be on track to avert a shutdown -- even if it means an extra day or two of work.

Roll Call reports that Mitch McConnell hopes to use the negotiations to ease limits on spending by party committees.

As Congress readies for Wednesday's Congressional Gold Medal ceremony to honor the Civil Air Patrol, House Speaker John Boehner's office has this behind-the-scenes video about the award and its history.

The Washington Post’s Paul Kane writes that Nancy Pelosi isn’t into the handwringing many of her fellow Democrats are engaging in, even as some grumble about her leadership. “Pelosi has asked Rep. Steve Israel (D-N.Y.) to run a new policy and messaging shop to craft a formula for returning the party to the majority. Israel, who ran the caucus’s campaign arm for the past four years, has given presentations about the 2014 results, but some lawmakers want a broader review in which they can offer critiques.”

OFF TO THE RACES: Clearing the ’16 field?

Must-read from Nicholas Confessore on how leading GOP donors are debating whether to clear the field for one center-right establishment candidate. The three on the shortlist: Jeb Bush, Chris Christie or Mitt Romney. is trying to push Elizabeth Warren into the 2016 contest, writes Jonathan Martin.

ARIZONA: A federal judge has ruled against the state's campaign finance law, writes the Arizona Republic.

GEORGIA: What's next for Michelle Nunn? Roll Call spotted her in the Capitol last week.

NEW HAMPSHIRE: The first independent issues ad of 2016 is airing in New Hampshire; it's from a doctors' PAC and it's pegged to Jonathan Gruber's testimony on Capitol Hill Tuesday.

WISCONSIN: Good observation from the Journal-Sentinel: Scott Walker inspired the biggest partisan gap of any 2014 gubernatorial candidate in a state where exit polls were conducted.


*** Tuesday’s “News Nation with Tamron Hall” line-up: Richard Lui interviews Rep. Loretta Sanchez (D-CA), NBC News Chief Foreign Correspondent Richard Engel, MSNBC Managing Editor Dafna Linzer & NBC News Terrorism Analyst Evan Kohlmann on the CIA torture report released today.

*** Tuesday’s “Andrea Mitchell Reports” line-up: NBC’s Andrea Mitchell interviews former Acting CIA Director John McLaughlin, Fmr. Sen. Bob Kerrey, Fmr. Chief of Staff to Defense Secy. Leon Panetta Jeremy Bash, Fmr. CIA official Paul Pillar, the Washington Post’s Chris Cillizza and AP’s Julie Pace.