The Note

The Los Angeles Times' Janet Hook reports questions about pre-war intelligence have put Bush Administration officials "on the defensive" and given "fresh ammunition" for Democratic presidential candidates to use against President Bush. LINK

And Democrats are not the only folks questioning. "'Politically the president really needs to explain this to the American people,' said Rep. Ray LaHood (R-Ill.), a senior member of the House Intelligence Committee who supported the Iraq war. 'It undermines his ability to continue to talk to the American people about the war on terrorism.'

The Washington Post editorial board wants the 9/11 Commission's deadline to be lifted. LINK

The Washington Post's Dan Eggen reports that the White House is stepping up efforts to protect the USA Patriot Act. LINK

Big casino budget politics:

Why paraphrase what the Wall Street Journal editorial board had to say about Republican spending when they did it so well? "Elected as the party of limited government 10 years ago, the Republican imperium is starting to show signs of ideological dry rot."

Big casino budget politics: Medicare:

The Washington Post's Amy Goldstein and Juliet Eilperin write up the new estimate for Medicare by congressional and Administration sources: an additional $134 billion over what had been promised. They Note the difficulties in predicting Medicare spending ("Administration officials would not explain the precise reason for the discrepancy.") and how the announcement went over like a lead balloon with both parties in Congress. LINK

The Clintons of Chappaqua:

Mary Curtius of the Los Angeles Times doesn't have that masterful Senator Clinton quote on FPOTUS' visit to the Hill, but she does lead with the boffo words 42 had for the front-running man who hopes to become 44. LINK

The New York Times' Carl Hulse reports that Senate Democrats who met with Clinton yesterday liked what he had to say -- especially his wife. LINK

Clinton didn't' just talk up John Kerry in front of the cameras according to the New York Daily News' Bazinet. LINK

"Clinton also focused on Kerry behind closed doors, a West Coast Senate source told the Daily News. He 'had kind words for the candidates, but probably talked most about Kerry,' said the source."


The Wall Street Journal's Jeanne Cummings writes that lawyers from the Federal Election Commission are recommending that the money going to outside groups from businesses, unions and big donors be outlawed. The FEC is expected to make a decision next week.

Meanwhile the Ney House Administration Committee continues to exchange a not-so-friendly round of letters with the folks heading the 527s on the left side of the spectrum in search of details on their groups' fundraising and GOTV activities. Keep your eye on this one as the last lines of the last letter from Rep. Ney to Cecile Richards, Ellen Malcolm, and Steve Rosenthal, among others, reads, "Please provide the requested materials by February 2, 2004. If you do not wish to provide the documents voluntarily, I suggest that you nonetheless begin collecting responsive documents."

Diebold's touchscreen voting machines count votes correctly but are prone to hackers, according to a report by security experts. LINK

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