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FROM THIS EPISODE

Alleged violations of privacy in the war on terror helped the Democrats win last November, but last week, both houses of Congress expanded the President's power of electronic surveillance. Were the new Democratic majorities out-maneuvered by a lame-duck president?  We look at the politics and the substance. Plus, new questions about the stability of Iraq's Shiite-dominated central government and, on Reporter's Notebook, from California—six months before the first presidential primaries--a new challenge to America's voting systems.


Banner image: Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) speaks during a signing ceremony for the Improving America’s Security Act of 2007. Joining Reid are House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA), House Homeland Security Committee Chairman Bennie Thompson (D-MS), and Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee Chairman Joe Lieberman (D-CT).

Photo: Win McNamee/Getty Images

Producers:
Katie Cooper
Karen Radziner
Vanessa Romo

Making News Lessons from Basra, Once Called an Iraqi Success Story 5 MIN, 53 SEC

Today's Washington Post says that, as British troops pull back from the southern Iraqi city of Basra, Shiite militias are battling among themselves. That's raising new questions about the stability of Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki's Shiite-dominated central government. Joost Hiltermann is Middle East Deputy Program Director of the International Crisis Group, which has produced a report on Basra.

Guests:
Joost Hiltermann, Middle East Deputy Program Director, International Crisis Group

Main Topic Bush Administration's Broad New Wiretapping Powers 33 MIN, 42 SEC

President Bush may be a struggling lame duck, but Democrats can still be out-maneuvered if they think they'll be called soft on terrorism. As Congress was leaving town, both houses gave Mr. Bush the wire-tapping authority he wanted, despite opposition from the Democratic leadership. The Bush White House denies it's a "broad expansion" of the President's powers, while House Speaker Pelosi calls it "unacceptable." Civil libertarians and other Senate Democrats, including Barack Obama, say the new majority buckled under intimidation and pressure, that they "might be branded as soft on terrorism." We look at the new law and the politics that got it passed.

Guests:
Charlie Savage, New York Times (@charlie_savage)
Marc Rotenberg, Electronic Privacy Information Center
Robert Turner, University of Virginia Law School (@UVALaw)
Jack Balkin, Professor of Constitutional Law at Yale Law School
Kevin Drum, Writer, Mother Jones

Reporter's Notebook California Voting Machines Decertified, Susceptible to Hackers 9 MIN, 29 SEC

With the first presidential primaries just six months away, are America's voting systems accurate and secure from tampering? The eyes of election officials around the country are focused on the biggest state in the Union and crucial for candidates of both parties in the presidential primaries on February 5, 2008. But California Secretary of State Debra Bowen has thrown election officials into a frenzy by refusing to certify electronic voting machines in 39 of 58 counties—including Los Angeles, the biggest county of all. Avi Rubin is a computer scientist at Johns Hopkins University and elections judge in Maryland.

Guests:
Avi Rubin, Technical Director of the Information Security Institute at Johns Hopkins University (@avirubin)

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