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First Read's Morning Clips

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

OBAMA AGENDA: Why the president is sticking by Brennan

The New York Times reports in the wake of the CIA report: "C.I.A. First Planned Jails Abiding by U.S. Standards"

The Times also looks at the psychological theories used in crafting the treatment of detainees, with one expert calling the architects of the program "not really scientists."

Former Vice President Dick Cheney says the report is "full of crap."

Why is Barack Obama sticking by John Brennan? Bloomberg looks at their relationship.

Notes the Associated Press: "Fed up with the stalled progress toward closing the Guantanamo Bay detention center, President Barack Obama summoned top administration officials to the White House for an unusual meeting last month to make it clear he wanted action. The president addressed the team at length, emphasizing why he wants to shut down the detention facility for terrorism suspects, according to administration officials familiar with the meeting, which wasn't on Obama's public schedule. The presidential lecture was the culmination of months of White House frustration with his own administration's inaction. Since then, the a dozen prisoners have been transferred overseas — more than all of last year and the most since 2010."

A potential bright spot for the administration? Trade deals. Said USTR head Michael Froman on CNBC this morning: “Trade has always been an area that's benefitted from and required bipartisan cooperation. And certainly we've been comforted by the messages we've heard from Republican leadership including .. Senator Cruz and Senator Paul as well as, of course, Senator McConnell and Speaker Boehner.”

CONGRESS: State of play for the spending bill

Here's the state of play on the spending bill, from

The Wall Street Journal explains the holdup over changes to Dodd-Frank.

And the Washington Post zeroes in on Elizabeth Warren's role in urging House Democrats to vote no.

POLITICO’s headline: “Mammoth spending bill poised for passage”

Republicans are already plotting their immigration move for next year, writes Roll Call: "Rules Chairman Pete Sessions said during a panel hearing on the “cromnibus” Wednesday that Republicans plan to bring up legislation similar to an amendment offered by Mick Mulvaney of South Carolina that would prohibit the president from carrying out his immigration action. “Mr. Mulvaney has given us an amendment that works perfectly well,” Sessions said, saying he will “guarantee” that the Rules Committee, “in the new Congress, in the first two weeks,” would have a meeting to put that legislation on the House floor."

A government shutdown wouldn't stop Obama on immigration, notes The Hill: " Eighty-five percent of DHS employees continued to work during last year’s 16-day shutdown because they were funded with mandatory funds or deemed “essential” to national security or public safety, according to figures the Congressional Research Service (CRS) tracked down for GOP lawmakers."

OFF TO THE RACES: Mum’s (mostly) the word

Presidential hopefuls aren't saying much about the CIA report, notes the New York Times.

Guess who else is "eyeing 2016" with a national tour? Michigan's Rick Snyder. POLITICO: "Although officially the trips are aimed at promoting the local economy, they will also help boost Snyder’s national profile at a time when the emerging 2016 GOP field is anything but settled. And while Snyder’s uneasiness talking about social issues means he will have a tough time winning the party’s nod — and he’s not taking active steps toward a candidacy — his economic background and success governing a blue state could make him an attractive running mate."

Bloomberg's Josh Green asks if Jeb Bush "has a Mitt Romney problem." MORE: "Bush’s recent business ventures reveal that he shares a number of liabilities with the last nominee, Mitt Romney, whose career in private equity proved so politically damaging that it sunk his candidacy."

Rick Perry tells MSNBC's Kasie Hunt: ""Running for the presidency's not an IQ test. It is a test of an individual's resolve. It's a test of an individual's philosophy. It's a test of an individual's life's experiences. And I think Americans are really ready for a leader that will give them a great hope about the future."

Speaking of Perry, he told CNBC's John Harwood that his "oops" moment (at a debate Harwood moderated) will not be in his obituary.

ALASKA: The Alaska Dispatch News relays a blunt take on the Senate race - and its most controversial ad - from a consultant with Mark Begich's ad firm.

NEW JERSEY: A majority - 53 percent - of New Jersey voters say that Gov. Chris Christie would not make a good president.

Christie wouldn't answer questions about the CIA torture report Wednesday.


*** Thursday’s “News Nation with Tamron Hall” line-up: Frances Rivera interviews Rep. Adam Schiff (D-CA) on the CIA Torture report; The Washington Post’s Eugene Robinson on the Government spending bill; Domestic Violence Survivor Leslie Morgan Steiner on the NFL’s new personal conduct policy; Cybertheft expert and co-founder of Identity Theft 911 Adam Levin on the Sony cyber attack; and in our Born in the U$A series: Stella & Dot CEO & Founder, Jessica Herrin.

*** Thursday’s “Andrea Mitchell Reports” line-up: NBC’s Andrea Mitchell interviews NBC’s Kristen Welker, Chuck Todd, Luke Russert, Miguel Almaguer and Peter Alexander, Sen. Robert Menendez, Rep. Peter King, ACLU Deputy Legal Director Jameel Jaffer, the Washington Post’s Chris Cillizza and Karen Tumulty and Jeremy Bash, former Chief of Staff to Leon Panetta.