TPM News

by Marian Wang, ProPublica

Earlier this week, we flagged an interesting piece in the New York Times about the U.S. government invoking the state secrets privilege to block evidence in lawsuits against a contractor who had duped the U.S. government into spending millions on what many now consider to be fake counterterrorism technology.

According to another recent report, the U.S. invoked state secrets to block a personal injury lawsuit by a CIA employee who alleged that environmental contamination in his home made his family sick. That got us wondering about what else the U.S. has invoked state secrets for--particularly under the Obama administration, which had pledged to end abuses of the privilege.

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If Rick Santorum wants to get back into national politics, he'd better run for president, as a new survey conducted by Municipoll finds that a majority of Pennsylvania voters don't like the idea of sending the former Republican Senator back to Congress.

In the poll of likely voters, Sen. Bob Casey (D-PA) trounced Santorum in a hypothetical 2012 Senate race, 50% to 38%. Casey captured Santorum's Senate seat in 2006 in a election year that saw Democrats reclaim control of the upper chamber of Congress.

Casey's lead over Santorum is slightly larger than the 48% to 41% lead PPP showed him boasting in a January poll.

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When you fight with WikiLeaks, they fight back -- by repeatedly stinging your genitals.

At least that's how Stephen Colbert described it last night when discussing the ongoing battle between the WikiLeaks-affiliated hacker group Anonymous and a counter-hacking agency.

Fearing that WikiLeaks may possess incriminating documents revealing corporate malfeasance, Bank of America sought the services Aaron Barr, CEO of the security firm HB Gary, to take WikiLeaks down. Yet when Barr announced that he would go after Anonymous first, the hacker community struck back, stealing all his emails and wiping his files.

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Democratic Senators Sherrod Brown (OH), Barbara Mikulski (MD) and Harry Reid (NV) were among "the most liberal" Senators last year, according to new rankings by National Journal. Republican Sens. John McCain (AZ), Jim DeMint (SC) and John Thune (SD) were among the most conservative.

National Journal is out with its annual congressional voting record rankings, which track the voting patterns of the 535 members of the House and Senate. The takeaway? Congress in 2010 was the most polarized it has been in close to 30 years. Parties in Congress are increasingly working in "virtual lockstep," which the magazine's political guru, Ron Brownstein described as the "decline of individualism in Congress" and the rise of a "a more top-down, parliamentary-style institution."

But there are still members on both sides who represent the outer edge of the party's ideological leanings. Here are National Journal's top conservative and liberal leaders in each chamber.

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Libyan leader Muammar Qaddafi's 42-year grip on power is slipping and, believing that he will soon be ousted or killed, Jon Stewart rushed last night to name everyone Qaddafi looks like while he still time left to do so.

"We have like a hundred of these, and I gotta try to get them out," Stewart said. "We don't know how long this guy's gonna last."

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Koch Industries executives are reacting to the prank call pulled on Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker (R) this week, where a blogger got through to the governor by posing as David Koch. In an interview with National Review Online, Koch Industries executive vice president Richard Fink says the Koch brothers will not "back off."

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Hundreds of people have contacted the law firm and military advocacy group associated with a federal lawsuit which accuses the Pentagon of not doing enough to prevent the rape and sexual harassment of members of the Armed Services.

"Our phones have been ringing off the hook for the last week," Anuradha Bhagwati, executive director of Service Women's Action Network (SWAN), told TPM in an interview this week. "I feel like it's the first time literally in military history where survivors have had a strong sense of institutional support -- and by institutional I mean a legitimate law firm and advocacy organization supporting the cause."

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Shocking news...

A new report shows Congress in 2010 was the most divided it has been in nearly 30 years.

National Journal's annual congressional vote ranking survey shows the House and Senate hit "a new peak of polarization."

Yeah, you read that right: the year that saw the rise of the tea party and the end of the epic health care debate turned out to be one of the most partisan in history. Who woulda thunk it?

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