TPM News

As we reported earlier this week, Sen. Jeff Sessions (R-AL) was spiked in 1986 from becoming a district court judge by the Republican controlled Senate Judiciary Committee. Sessions was known to be, at least, insensitive to minorities, and his nomination was considered too controversial to advance. Now that he's the ranking member on that very committee, it's news all over again. But it was a big deal then, too. Watch:

Yesterday we obtained over 500 pages of testimony from the 1986 hearings, and are still dutifully scouring them for interesting nuggets.

As we said before: Whatever the specifics of exactly what was and wasn't said during the September 2002 CIA briefing that Nancy Pelosi received about enhanced interrogation techniques, it seems clear that she was given enough information to conclude that we either had already conducted waterboarding and other harsh techniques, or that we very well might in the near future.

So the more important question, which seems to be getting less attention today, is what Pelosi did in response. And the short answer appears to be: very little.

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One-time presidential candidate, failed MSNBC talk show host, and U.S. Senate hopeful Alan Keyes was one of 22 people arrested this morning on charges of trespassing. The group--26 in total--had convened to protest President Barack Obama's upcoming commencement speech at Notre Dame University.

Anti-abortion groups have been livid ever since the Catholic school invited Obama (who is pro-choice) to address this years graduating class a couple months ago, and the fact that, as part of the arrangement, Obama will receive an honorary degree has, in their minds, added insult to injury.

Without questioning the sincerity of most of these protestors, it's worth pointing out that Keyes may have a wee bit of a score to settle. It was Obama, after all, who defeated Keyes in that 2004 Senate race, and in recent months he's been on a one man campaign to "prove" that Obama isn't a "natural born citizen."

Remember the rumors that AIG Financial Products had "thrown in the towel," handing over massive portfolios of derivatives to the trading desks of major investment banks to unwind in a process that gave the beleaguered banking sector a profitable first quarter?

We first heard them back in March from the blog Zero Hedge. Then, sure enough, the banks began reporting first quarter earnings that for the most part beat expectations -- all thanks to record and near-record revenues for their trading operations.

Then the fixed income chief at the hedge fund BlackRock essentially confirmed the story to Bloomberg Radio in a wry interview we partially transcribed.

And now we've heard from an anonymous executive at AIG who is "familiar" with AIG FP...

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If Sen. Arlen Specter (D-PA) faces a primary challenger in the Pennsylvania Senate race next year, it's likely to be from Rep. Joe Sestak (D-PA). Sestak was considering a run before Specter switched parties, but that development undoubtedly turned his game plan on its head. Now, winning the Democratic nomination will be much harder than it would otherwise have been, but he has a much more compelling raison d'être. Now, if he runs, he'll be fighting a man who he says is an unreliable steward of Pennsylvania's interests, and a weak choice for Democratic voters who want a real Democratic senator.

Sestak told me that he'll be inclined to primary Specter if he doesn't prove a reliable Democratic vote on all major Democratic issues. But how reliable is Sestak?

Pretty reliable on the whole. According to the Washington Post votes database, Sestak has voted with his party 97.8 percent of the time.

But he has bucked his party on a number of key votes, particularly on national security issues.

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RNC chairman Michael Steele guest-hosted on Bill Bennett's radio show today, and had an interesting take on President Obama's call for a Supreme Court Justice with a sense of "empathy," which has been criticized throughout the right:

"Crazy nonsense, empathetic," said Steele. "I'll give you empathy. Empathize right on your behind. Craziness."

Here are the line-ups for the Sunday talk shows this weekend:

• ABC, This Week: Gen. David Petraeus, Commander of CENTCOM; Sen. John McCain (R-AZ).

• CBS, Face The Nation: Former Vice President Dick Cheney.

• CNN, State Of The Union: Gen. David Petraeus, Commander of CENTCOM.

• Fox News Sunday: Gen. David Petraeus, Commander of CENTCOM; former Speaker Newt Gingrich (R-GA).

• NBC, Meet The Press: Hamid Karzai, President of Afghanistan; Asif Ali Zardari, President of Pakistan.

Greg Sargent has noted that the cover letter sent by CIA director Leon Panetta to accompany the release of the documents on torture briefings, in which Panetta cautions that the descriptions of the briefings may be inaccurate.

And now Nancy Pelosi is pointing out the same thing.

In a blog post on the Speaker's site, she reiterates that the September 2002 briefing was the only one she received on enhanced interrogation techniques, then writes:

As reported in the press, a cover letter from CIA Director Panetta accompanying the briefings memo released this week concedes that the descriptions provided by the CIA may not be accurate.