The Note's Must-Reads for Tuesday, June 11, 2013

The Note's Must-Reads are a round-up of today's political headlines and stories from ABC News and the top U.S. newspapers. Posted Monday through Friday right here at

Compiled by ABC News' Jayce Henderson, Amanda VanAllen, Jordan Mazza and JP Lawrence

FOREIGN AFFAIRS: The Wall Street Journal's Adam Entous and Julian E. Barnes: " In Shift, More U.S. Officials See Assad Gaining Momentum" Syrian President Bashar al-Assad is gaining momentum in the country's civil war with aid from Hezbollah and is unlikely to fall in the foreseeable future, a growing number of U.S. intelligence and defense officials believe, in what officials say is a sharp divergence from the Obama administration's long-held view. The shifting views have fueled a behind-the-scenes debate within intelligence agencies as President Barack Obama and his top advisers this week renew consideration of options to aid anti-Assad forces, including one that would provide moderate fighters with American arms. LINK

PLAN B: The Hill's Sam Baker: " Obama administration will approve 'Plan B' pill for women and girls of all ages" The Justice Department said it would stop fighting a court order requiring it to remove all age restrictions on the sale of Plan B One-Step without a prescription. Obama had previously said he was uncomfortable with removing all age restrictions on the sale of the so-called "morning after pill." He said over a year ago that "as the father of two daughters," he supported his Health secretary's decision to block over-the-counter sales for younger teens. But a federal judge excoriated the administration's defense of age limits on the pill, calling it a nakedly political decision divorced from science. LINK

Politico's Jennifer Epstein and Jennifer Haberkorn: " U.S. to allow Plan B access for all ages" The Obama administration indicated Monday that it would end its legal battle to block the "morning-after" pill from being available over the counter to women of all ages. Just weeks after vowing to fight District Judge Edward Korman's April ruling to eliminate previous age restrictions, the Justice Department told a court of plans to drop its appeal if the court approves its plan for compliance. LINK

NSA: ABC News' Abby D. Phillips: " Progressives Raise Money for NSA Leaker Snowden's Legal Defense" Progressives have begun raising money for the legal defense of Edward Snowden, the National Security Agency contractor who has admitted to leaking several secret national security documents to the British newspaper The Guardian and the Washington Post. In an email to supporters today, the Progressive Change Campaign Committee said that because "whistleblower" cases are extremely expensive to litigate, they would raise money to pay Snowden's legal fees. LINK

The Los Angeles Times' Ken Dilanian and Barbara Demick: " Analyst overstated claims on NSA leaks, experts say" Security experts questioned Monday how, three years after Army Pfc. Bradley Manning downloaded a trove of secret material, low-level computer specialist Edward Snowden was able to copy documents that are far more sensitive and walk them out of his National Security Agency workplace in Hawaii. After Manning released hundreds of thousands of classified documents - for which he is now being court-martialed - government officials vowed to curtail the broad access to intelligence that came into being after the Sept. 11 attacks. But Snowden appeared to have access to far more sensitive secrets, including the first order from the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court to be leaked in its 35-year history. LINK

The New York Times' Scott Shane and Jonathan Weisman: " Debate on Secret Data Looks Unlikely, Partly Due to Secrecy" Edward J. Snowden said he had leaked secret documents about National Security Agency surveillance to spark a public debate about civil liberties. President Obama, while deploring the leak, endorsed the same goal of a vigorous public discussion of the "trade-offs" between national security and personal privacy. "I think it's healthy for our democracy, " he said on Friday of the prospect of re-examining surveillance policy. LINK

The Washington Post's Jon Cohen: " Most Americans back NSA tracking phone records, prioritize probes over privacy" A large majority of Americans say the federal government should focus on investigating possible terrorist threats even if personal privacy is compromised, and most support the blanket tracking of telephone records in an effort to uncover terrorist activity, according to a new Washington Post-Pew Research Center poll. Fully 45 percent of all Americans say the government should be able to go further than it is, saying that it should be able to monitor everyone's online activity if doing so would prevent terrorist attacks. LINK

SEXUAL ASSAULT: USA Today's Emily West and Tony Gonzalez: " Military works to combat sexual assaults" Women in the military continue to fight a culture that is often hostile to them. That's true at Fort Campbell, Ky., one of three posts across the country where someone with a crucial role in sexual abuse prevention got into trouble for related behavior. The scope of the problem became apparent May 15, when police arrested Fort Campbell's sexual harassment prevention manager on stalking charges involving his ex-wife. LINK

SPENDING CUTS: The Boston Globe's Akilah Johnson: " Spending cuts taking hard toll on Head Start" When the school year resumes this fall, at least 1,359 Massachusetts children - 259 more than earlier estimated - will probably not be in Head Start classrooms because of automatic across-the-board federal spending cuts. The cuts, the legacy of so-called sequestration in Washington, will have a bigger impact than the federal government originally estimated, with slots for the preschoolers disappearing statewide, classrooms closing, jobs lost, and the school year ending early in some communities, officials say. LINK

IMMIGRATION REFORM: Bloomberg's Roxana Tiron and Kathleen Hunter: " House Republican Leaders to Speed Immigration Work" House Republican leaders are seeking to speed up efforts to craft U.S. immigration-law proposals as the Senate nears the first test votes on its own plan. House Speaker John Boehner and other leaders have decided to focus on immigration before the August recess, three Republican aides said yesterday. LINK

OTHER: The Washington Times' Dave Boyer: " White House disputes comparisons to Bush amid leak scandal" Embarrassed by national security leaks of historic proportions, the White House rebutted accusations Monday by the disillusioned former government contractor who leaked the surveillance secrets that President Obama is no different from President George W. Bush in his anti-terrorism tactics. As a debate raged over whether the leaker, former National Security Agency contractor Edward Snowden, is a hero or a criminal, White House spokesman Jay Carney said there was no reason for Mr. Snowden to have been disappointed in Mr. Obama. LINK

ABC NEWS VIDEO: " Obama Marks Anniversary of Equal Pay Act, Pushes for More Reform" LINK

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