Politics Today: Obama in Italy, Dems Vs. CIA

Politics Today is CBSNews.com's inside look at the key stories driving the day in Politics, written by CBS News Political Director Steve Chaggaris:

**President Obama at G-8 in Italy

**House Democrats accuse CIA of lying to Congress...

**Biden sells stimulus in Ohio and N.Y. as criticism mounts...

**Health care wrangling continues on Capitol Hill...

(AP Photo/Haraz N. Ghanbari)
PRESIDENT OBAMA: President Obama is chairing today's meeting of the leaders of the G-8, focusing on the economy, climate change, trade, among other issues. Also this morning, he will attend a working lunch of the leaders of the G-8, +5, Egypt, and six international organizations (United Nations, International Monetary Fund, World Bank, World Trade Organization, International Energy Agency, and Organiation for Economic Cooperation and Development).

Later, he will attend a meeting with representatives of the Junior 8 and will also attend a discussion on world trade and a Major Economies Forum discussion on the environment. Tonight, Mr. Obama attends a dinner hosted by Italian President Giorgio Napolitano.

Earlier today, President Obama met with Brazilian President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva and talked about Iran. White House spokesman Robert Gibbs told reporters that Mr. Obama pointed out Brazil's close trading ties with Iran and added that Obama told Silva that because of that relationship "they can have an impact on reiterating" the G-8's stance on Iran. "[That was a point the President wanted to stress," Gibbs said. The G-8 said Iran must not seek to create nuclear weapons and called its restrictions on Iranian news media "unacceptable."

Agence France-Presse, "US highlights united G8 front on Iran"

Meantime, "Rallying rich and developing nations alike, President Barack Obama wants the world's top polluters to keep driving toward a deal to halt global warming," reports the Associated Press' Ben Feller.

"Nearing six months on the job, Obama has some momentum: a new agreement among developed and emerging nations to cap rising global temperatures, plus good will from his peers for repositioning the U.S. as an aggressive player in the debate. Yet when Obama helps lead a gathering of the world's major economies here Thursday, he will run smack into the same old problem: Neither the wealthy nor the countries in search of their own footing think the other side is doing enough. And only when the pollution emitters work together on a binding plan will a climate strategy work, experts say."

New York Times' Peter Baker, "Poorer Nations Reject a Target on Emission Cut"

Wall Street Journal's Gabriele Parussini and Luca Di Leo, "Leaders Say Economy Is Still Hurting"

Los Angeles Times' Henry Chu and Christi Parsons, "Chinese leader's withdrawal knocks G-8 meeting down a notch"

The Hill's Sam Youngman, "High expectations ahead of historic trip to Africa"

DEMOCRATS vs. CIA: "The chairman of the House intelligence committee has accused the CIA of lying to the panel in a classified matter, the second time in less than two months that a top House Democrat has charged the spy agency of intentionally misleading Congress," reports the Washington Post's Paul Kane.

"Rep. Silvestre Reyes (Tex.), in a letter sent Tuesday to House leadership, said that CIA officials 'affirmatively lied' to the intelligence committee when recently notifying the panel about a classified matter. Reyes wrote that it was one of several recent instances in which the CIA has not fully informed the committee on other classified notifications. …

"The CIA rejected the allegation that it lied to Congress. 'This agency and this director are committed to a candid dialogue with Congress. When Director Panetta believes something should be raised with the Hill, it gets done quickly and clearly. Our oversight committees recognize that,' George Little, an agency spokesman, said in a statement."

Another letter, released last night by House Democrats, was written to Panetta late last month demanding he "publicly correct" a statement he made in May: "It is not our policy or practice to mislead Congress." The letter goes on to say that Panetta had "told the House Intelligence Committee in closed-door testimony that the C.I.A. concealed 'significant actions' from Congress from 2001 until late last month," reports the New York Times' Scott Shane.

4798811"In a June 26 letter to Mr. Panetta discussing his testimony, Democrats said that the agency had 'misled members' of Congress for eight years about the classified matters, which the letter did not disclose. 'This is similar to other deceptions of which we are aware from other recent periods,' said the letter, made public late Wednesday by Representative Rush D. Holt, Democrat of New Jersey, one of the signers. In an interview, Mr. Holt declined to reveal the nature of the C.I.A.'s alleged deceptions, But he said, 'We wouldn't be doing this over a trivial matter.'"

"The release of these letters is the latest twist in a struggle between House Democrats and the CIA. Earlier this year, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi accused the CIA of misleading her in a 2002 briefing on interrogation practices," adds the Wall Street Journal's Siobhan Gorman.

"Ms. Pelosi has said repeatedly she wasn't told then that the agency had used the technique of waterboarding, or simulated drowning, which critics say is torture. The agency released a document that said Ms. Pelosi had been briefed on the treatment of 'high value' detainee Abu Zubaydah, who at the time of the briefing had been waterboarded more than 80 times. Republicans have repeatedly challenged Ms. Pelosi's statement.

"The flap over Mr. Panetta's recent disclosures reignites a broader debate between Congress and the executive branch over the limits of executive power. The release of the letters came the day before the House is scheduled to debate an intelligence bill that will test those limits once again."

"Obama's aides have said they will recommend he veto the bill if it includes a Democratic-written provision requiring the president to notify the intelligence committees in their entirety about covert CIA activities," writes the Associated Press' Pamela Hess.

"Under current law, the president is only obligated to notify the top Democratic and Republican leaders of the House and Senate and the senior Democratic and Republican members on each chamber's intelligence committee."

STIMULUS: As Republicans ramp up their criticism of the president's economic stimulus package, arguing it's not doing enough, and talk of a possible second stimulus package swirls on Capitol Hill, Vice President Biden travels to Cincinnati, Ohio, and Clifton Park, N.Y., to highlight projects funded by the stimulus bill.

"The renovation project that Vice President Joe Biden will visit today [at 10:15am ET] in Northside is not the biggest example of a stimulus project in Greater Cincinnati. It's not getting the most money nor will it bring the most jobs," reports the Cincinnati enquirer's Jessica Brown.

"The Factory Square development in Northside, which will turn a vacant factory into apartments and retail space, was suggested by the city for the vice president's stop because they say it is a good example of a how stimulus dollars can help rejuvenate a community. And because the $1.6 million is crucial, according to the city, to getting the long-planned project off the ground."

WKRC-TV, "Vice President Biden to Visit Northside to See How Stimulus Money Is Being Used"

Later, at 2:30 p.m. ET in Clifton Park, N.Y., Biden is expected to pack the house for his remarks.
"The excitement about today's visit drew hundreds of people who lined up and then waited hours on Wednesday for a chance at a ticket to see the Democrat," reports the Albany Times-Union's Leigh Hornbeck.

"The ticket give away, set for noon to 1 p.m., stretched to 2:30 p.m., Shenendehowa district spokeswoman Kelly DeFeciani said. White House staff did not reveal the number of tickets available for security reasons, but she estimated between 400 and 500 were issued. About 80 people were turned away when tickets ran out for Biden's appearance, set for the Shen High School East gym."

(AP Photo/Pablo Martinez Monsivais)
New York Times' Edmund L. Andrews, "Doubts About Obama's Economic Recovery Plan Rise With Unemployment"" For the moment, Mr. Obama and his top economic advisers are fending off calls for more action, combining a message of hard-headed realism about the magnitude of the economy's problems with more cheerful predictions about an imminent boost as the government spending begins to hit the streets. ...

"Administration officials say a job market recovery usually lags behind the economic recovery itself. Indeed, most forecasters had predicted that unemployment was likely to keep rising through the end of 2009 and would not start to edge down until 2010. ...

"But political pressures may not give the administration two years to show that its plan is working, especially if Democrats in Congress begin to conclude that continued bad economic news is putting them at risk of losing seats in the 2010 midterm elections. Mr. Obama has bought time by casting the struggling economy as the legacy of President George W. Bush, but as time passes it increasingly becomes his problem and his party's."

USA Today's Brad Heath reports that billions of stimulus dollars "have gone overwhelmingly to places that supported President Obama in last year's presidential election. That aid — about $17 billion — is the first piece of the administration's massive stimulus package that can be tracked locally. Much of it has followed a well-worn path to places that regularly collect a bigger share of federal grants and contracts, guided by formulas that have been in place for decades and leave little room for manipulation.

"'There's no politics at work when it comes to spending for the recovery,' White House spokesman Robert Gibbs says. ... The reports show the 872 counties that supported Obama received about $69 per person, on average. The 2,234 that supported McCain received about $34."

HEALTH CARE: "An effort by Senator Max Baucus of Montana to develop compromise health care legislation has come under sharp assault by fellow Democrats who have urged him to abandon a plan to help pay for the bill by taxing some employer-provided health benefits," reports the New York Times' David M. Herszenhorn.

"A tax on generous employer-provided health plans is favored by Republicans and several centrist Democrats. But opinion polls show the idea to be generally unpopular, and several senators up for re-election in 2010, including the majority leader, Senator Harry Reid of Nevada, have said they oppose it. On Tuesday, Mr. Reid and other Democratic leaders asked Mr. Baucus, the chairman of the Finance Committee, to explore other options, sending him back to the drawing board yet again on what is perhaps the most controversial issue in the health care debate: how to pay the cost of insuring all Americans."

On the House side, "House Democrats at work on health legislation are narrowing in on an income tax surcharge on the highest-paid wage earners to help pay the cost of subsidizing insurance for the 50 million who lack it," reports the Associated Press' Erica Werner.

"Pushing to complete a comprehensive health care bill by Friday and bring it up for committee votes next week, House Democrats abandoned earlier money-raising proposals, including a payroll tax. They planned to meet behind closed doors Thursday to fine-tune the details."

Yesterday, "Rep. Henry A. Waxman (D-Calif.), lead House architect of the landmark health legislation, warned yesterday that he is not obligated to abide by deals struck recently by the White House, Senate Finance Committee, industry executives and interest groups such as AARP," reports the Washington Post's Ceci Connolly and Michael D. Shear.

5099149"'The White House is not bound. They tell us they're not bound by that agreement,' Waxman, the chairman of the House Energy and Commerce Committee, said at a National Journal breakfast. 'We're certainly not bound by that agreement. The White House was involved, and we were not.' Waxman's comments came amid several other warning signs for the administration, including a slipping timetable in the Senate, internal division in the hospital industry and mounting tensions between AARP and the pharmaceutical industry that threaten a temporary detente between the two negotiated last month by the White House."

Is pork making its way into the health care bill? "Sweeping healthcare legislation working its way through Congress is more than an effort to provide insurance to millions of Americans without coverage. Tucked within is a provision that could provide billions of dollars for walking paths, streetlights, jungle gyms, and even farmers' markets," reports the Boston Globe's Michael Kranish.

"The add-ons - characterized as part of a broad effort to improve the nation's health 'infrastructure' - appear in House and Senate versions of the bill. Critics argue the provision is a thinly disguised effort to insert pork-barrel spending into a bill that has been widely portrayed to the public as dealing with expanding health coverage and cutting medical costs. ... But advocates, including Senator Edward M. Kennedy of Massachusetts, defend the proposed spending as a necessary way to promote healthier lives and, in the long run, cut medical costs."

Politico's Carrie Budoff Brown and Patrick O'Connor, "Harry Reid opens $320B health plan hole"

Los Angeles Times' Noam N. Levey, "Baucus and Grassley team up on bipartisan healthcare compromise"

Associated Press' Alan Fram, "Business, health split forming"

ALSO TODAY: Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius, Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano, Education Secretary Arne Duncan and Homeland Security Adviser John Brennan hold an H1N1 Flu Preparedness Summit with state officials to discuss the possibility of a more severe outbreak.

Associated Press' Lauren Neergaard, "Swine flu summit: Govt checks on state readiness"

**To hear more from Sebelius, check out Washington Unplugged" today at 12:30 p.m. ET on CBSNews.com. Moderator Bob Orr will talk to Sebelius about today's summit.

TOMORROW: Per the White House, "Vice President Biden, Secretary Sebelius and Director of the White House Office of Health Reform Nancy-Ann DeParle, along with several small business employers and employees from around the country, will hold a roundtable discussion on the rising costs of health care for people who work in small businesses and small business employers, and the impact those high costs have on middle-class families across America."


Wall Street Journal's Naftali Bendavid and Jess Bravin, "GOP Lowers Its Goals For Sotomayor Hearing"

NY Times' Charlie Savage, "From Sotomayor Rulings, a Wealth of Data"

Associated Press' Mark Sherman, "Sotomayor record thin on executive power"

Washington Post's Jerry Markon, "Uncommon Detail Marks Rulings by Sotomayor"


Associated Press' Stephen Ohlemacher, "Promises, Promises: Obama tax pledge unrealistic"

NY Times' Gardiner Harris, "Pick to Lead Health Agency Draws Praise and Some Concern"

Politico's Ben Smith, "Independents begin to edge away from President Obama"


Anchorage Daily News' Sean Cockerham, "Palin says inquiries wasted 'millions'"

Associated Press' Michael Graczyk, "Texas Gov. Perry says Palin to campaign for him"


CBSNews.com's Brian Montopoli, "Sen. Ensign's Breakup Letter to Mistress Emerges"

Las Vegas Sun's J. Patrick Coolican, "Hampton speaks publicly, says Ensign paid severance"

KLAS-TV's Jon Ralston's exclusive interview with Doug Hampton, the husband of Ensign's former mistress.


The State's Gina Smith, "Polls say it's time Sanford resigns – But signs say he's likely to stay on as governor"


NY Times' Michael Slackman and Alan Cowell, "Iran Warns Foes of 'Crushing Response' to Protests"


The Hill's Aaron Blake, "GOP's hopes for '10 lifted by economy"

2009 NJ Governor: Newark Star-Ledger's Claire Heininger, "GOP poll finds voter appeal of President Obama may not help Gov. Corzine"

2009 VA Governor: Winchester Star's Drew Houff, "Election polls in question, says AP"

2009 VA Governor: Fredericksburg Free-Lance Star's Ed Jones, "Competitive campaigns put Virginia in spotlight"

2010 MA Governor: Boston Globe's Matt Viser, "Cahill makes it official, drops Democratic affiliation"

2010 NY Governor: NY Times' Danny Hakim, "Paterson Picks M.T.A. Figure as His No. 2"

2010 CT Senate: Hartford Courant's Christopher Keating, "Rob Simmons Says He's Raised $750,000 For Potential Run Against Dodd"

2010 IL Senate: Chicago Sun-Times' Lynn Sweet, "Why Lisa Madigan isn't running"

2010 IL Senate: Chicago Tribune's Rick Pearson and Mike Dorning, "Governor, Senate candidates charging out of the gate"

2010 IL Senate: Washington Times' Donald Lambro, "GOP's Kirk seeks Obama's old seat"

2010 KY Senate: Louisville Courier-Journal's Josepth Gerth, "Rand Paul may challenge Bunning"

2010 NH Senate: WMUR-TV, "Ayotte Performs Well In UNH Survey"


Dallas Morning News' Tanya Eiserer, "Dallas police cut extra protection at George W. Bush's home"

Washington CityPaper's Mike DeBonis, "Marion Barry Caught on Tape"

Washington Post's Nikita Stewart, Tim Craig and Dagny Salas, "For Barry, a Familiar Script Takes an Unfamiliar Twist"

  • Steve Chaggaris

    Steve Chaggaris is CBS News' senior political editor.