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Democrats and Republicans now agree: America's prisons are overcrowded, vastly expensive and ineffective. Fifty percent of the inmates in federal prisons are in for drug crimes. Today, Attorney General Eric Holder laid out a set of reforms that might well be adopted. Also, Russian Troops mass near Ukraine's eastern border, and the dispute between the CIA and US Senator Dianne Feinstein about the constitutional separation of powers… and the CIA's alleged abuse of prisoners during the so-called War on Terror.

Banner image: Gary Cameron/Reuters

Russian Troops Mass Near Ukraine's Eastern Border 7 MIN, 35 SEC

Despite continued warnings from President Obama, German Chancellor Merkel and other western leaders, Russia has announced extensive military activities on the border with Eastern Ukraine. Michael Weiss is Editor-in-Chief of The Interpreter, a daily online journal that translates media from the Russian Press into English.

Michael D. Weiss, Daily Beast / The Interpreter (@michaeldweiss)

The Drug War, Federal Prisons — and Bipartisanship 33 MIN, 3 SEC

The US population has risen by one-third since 1980. At the same time, the federal prison population has risen 800% -- and there's little to show for a lot of taxpayer money. That's what Democratic Attorney General Eric Holder told the independent US Sentencing Commission today, proposing that mandatory minimum sentences for drug crimes be scaled back. Even Rand Paul and Rick Perry of Texas agree that the War on Drugs has gone too far with long, mandatory sentences for minor crimes. Prison costs are rising, with little to show for the money, and Holder's reform proposals just might be accepted on Capitol Hill. Those concerned about racial disparities among inmates are saying it's about time.

Dan Wilhelm, Vera Institute of Justice (@verainstitute)
Marc Levin, Right on Crime (@MarcALevin)
Matthew Miller, Vianovo (@matthewamiller)
Vincent Southerland, NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund (@vmsoutherland)

Center on Sentencing and Corrections on states reconsidering mandatory sentences
Mandatory sentences policy timeline
NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund on United States v. Blewett
Prison Entrepreneurship Program
Right on Crime on overcriminalization
Vera Institute of Justice on the cost-benefit analysis for criminal justice programs

CIA Snoops on Congressional Investigators' Email 9 MIN, 57 SEC

Early this week, California Democrat Dianne Feinstein said she "reluctantly" took to the Senate floor to denounce the CIA for violating the Constitutional separation of powers. It's all about the brutal interrogation of terrorist suspects during the Bush Administration. Feinstein accused the CIA of trying to sabotage the work of the Intelligence Committee she chairs. It provides legislative oversight of the CIA, which is part of the Executive Branch. It turns out the committee staff had uncovered a CIA report the agency tried to keep secret. Greg Miller is sorting it all out for the Washington Post.



Greg Miller, Washington Post (@gregpmiller)

Brennan's remarks at the Council on Foreign Relations

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