Morning Must Reads: January 15

In the news: European intelligence agencies secretly met with Syrian President Bashar al-Assad's delegates; the President plans NSA reforms; domestic drones; two of the largest trade bills ever envisioned; the 2014 midterms; President Christie

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Mark Wilson / Getty Images

The early morning sun rises behind the US Capitol Building in Washington, DC.

  • European Spies Reach Out to Syria [WSJ]
  • “The president plans to increase limits on access to phone data, call for privacy safeguards for foreigners and propose the creation of a public advocate post, according to people briefed on his thinking.” [NYT]
    • “The National Security Agency has implanted software in nearly 100,000 computers around the world that allows the United States to conduct surveillance on those machines and can also create a digital highway for launching cyberattacks.” [NYT]
    • “The National Security Agency’s director, responding to questions from independent Sen. Bernie Sanders of Vermont, says the government is not spying on Congress. But a two-page letter from Army Gen. Keith Alexander to Sanders goes on to state that the agency can make no guarantee that representatives or senators have not had their “telephone metadata” caught up in broad government sweeps.” [USA Today]
  • “Federal, state and local law enforcement agencies are increasingly borrowing border-patrol drones for domestic surveillance operations, newly released records show, a harbinger of what is expected to become the commonplace use of unmanned aircraft by police.” [WashPost]
  • “Michael Froman, the U.S. trade representative, is in the midst of negotiating two of the largest trade bills ever envisioned. The Atlantic and Pacific pacts, once completed, could encompass more than 60% of the world’s economy, including most of Europe and Asia. The dirty little secret about the treaties: they both exclude the world’s largest and fastest-growing economy: China.” [TIME]
  • “It’s just two weeks into 2014, but House Republicans are already convinced that the key to winning November’s elections is to talk about President Barack Obama as much as possible.” [Politico]
    • “House Republican leaders are increasingly confident the economy will be a winning issue for their party in the 2014 midterm elections…They hope this argument, coupled with repeated attacks on the healthcare law, will play into the fatigue voters historically display toward incumbent presidents during their second term.” [Hill]
    • “President Barack Obama has a plan to save the Senate’s tenuous Democratic majority: Sell a populist message, try to make Obamacare work better and raise lots of cash.” [Politico]
  • Chris Christie Was Never Going to Be President Anyway [Atlantic]