TIME National Security

The Guardian and Washington Post Nab Pulitzer For Snowden Coverage

Edward Snowden Speaks To The Guardian
The Guardian/Getty Images

Coverage of leaked information on mass surveillance from former National Security Agency contractor Edward Snowden helped The Guardian and The Washington Post win journalism's most prestigious award

The 2014 Pulitzer Prize for public service journalism was awarded Monday to The Washington Post and The Guardian’s U.S. edition for their reporting on National Security Agency leaks from its former contractor Edward Snowden.

According to the Pulitzer committee, each media organization was awarded journalism’s highest honor “for its revelation of widespread secret surveillance by the National Security Agency, marked by authoritative and insightful reports that helped the public understand how disclosures fit into the larger framework of national security.”

Former NSA contractor Edward Snowden first approached documentary filmmaker Laura Poitras with his cache of documents. Poitras assisted Snowden in bringing the documents to The Washington Post and Glenn Greenwald at The Guardian, which first published reports about the leaks. Both papers share this year’s Pulitzer for their ongoing coverage of Snowden’s leaks, which have shed new light on the agency’s tactics and operations, and provoked a vigorous international debate on the rights and wrongs of government surveillance.

In response to Monday’s news, Snowden said in a statement, “Today’s decision is a vindication for everyone who believes that the public has a role in government. We owe it to the efforts of the brave reporters and their colleagues who kept working in the face of extraordinary intimidation, including the forced destruction of journalistic materials, the inappropriate use of terrorism laws, and so many other means of pressure to get them to stop what the world now recognizes was work of vital public importance.”

Other winners included the Boston Globe, which was honored for its breaking news coverage of the Boston Marathon bombing in April 2013; the novelist Donna Tartt, whose novel The Goldfinch won the fiction award; and The Oregonian newspaper in Portland, which was honored for its editorial writing.

TIME Military

U.S. Army Rejects Clemency for WikiLeaks Source Manning

Army Private First Class Bradley Manning is escorted out of a military court facilityÊduring the sentencing phase of his trial Aug. 20, 2013 in Fort Meade, Maryland.
Bradley Manning, now known as Chelsea Manning, being escorted out of a military-court facility in Fort Meade, Md., on Aug. 20, 2013 Mark Wilson—Getty Images

A U.S. Army general has endorsed the 35-year sentence imposed on the soldier formerly known as Bradley Manning for leaking hundreds of thousands of classified documents to the whistle-blowing group WikiLeaks

Correction appended: April 15, 2014

The U.S. Army has declined a request for clemency from the soldier formerly known as Bradley Manning, who was convicted last year of leaking a massive amount of classified government data to the whistle-blowing group WikiLeaks.

Major General Jeffrey Buchanan approved the 35-year sentence handed down by Judge Denise Lind in Manning’s court-martial in August 2013. Buchanan’s decision was issued Thursday but announced to the public Monday.

Manning was convicted of 20 separate offenses, including violations of the Espionage Act, but acquitted of the most serious charge of aiding the enemy, which carried a sentence of up to life in prison. The 35-year sentence levied against Manning is the longest sentence imposed on someone for leaking information to the media in American history.

At the time of her conviction, Manning was known by the first name Bradley. She has since formally requested a name change to Chelsea and indicated to the public that she identifies as female.

Manning and her supporters are also pursuing other avenues to reduce the leaker’s punishment, including a clemency request with President Barack Obama and a military-appeals process that could terminate in the U.S. Supreme Court.

An earlier version of this article misspelled the surname of the U.S. Army major general. He is Jeffrey Buchanan, not Buchannan.

TIME Health Care

Obamacare Will Be Billions Cheaper Than Expected

The Congressional Budget Office says the coverage provisions of the Affordable Care Act will cost $104 billion less than it previously believed

The cost of expanding coverage under the Affordable Care Act will be billions less than previously expected, according to a report released Monday.

An analysis from the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office found that the coverage provisions of the ACA, also known as Obamacare, will cost the federal government $104 billion fewer over 10 years than the CBO predicted back in February.

The revision is due almost entirely to a drop in the amount the federal government is expected to spend on subsidies to cover some or all of the cost of private health plans purchased through Obamacare’s insurance exchanges. Premiums for exchange plans sold in 2014 ended up being cheaper than the CBO predicted, partially because insurers marketed and sold plans with narrow networks that typically cost less.

Overall, the CBO expects the federal government will spend $1.38 trillion on the ACA’s coverage provisions between 2015 and 2024. That figure includes the cost of subsidies provided through the exchanges and Medicaid. It also factors in revenue from a tax on high-cost plans, as well as penalties collected from individuals without coverage and employers that fail to provide insurance to workers.

In 2014, the CBO predicts the federal government will spend $17 billion on subsidies to consumers who purchase private plans through exchanges, $20 billion on new Medicaid enrollees and $1 billion on tax credits for small business owners who provide employee insurance plans.

The CBO’s report also says 31 million U.S. residents will be uninsured by 2025, 26 million fewer than would go uninsured without the ACA.

TIME technology

Silicon Valley Startup Seeks to Repair U.S. Politics

Sean Parker, co-founder of Napster Inc. and managing partner of the Founders Fund, stands for a photograph following a television interview on day three of the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland in 2012
Sean Parker, co-founder of Napster Inc. and managing partner of the Founders Fund, stands for a photograph following a television interview on day three of the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland in 2012 Simon Dawson—Bloomberg/Getty Images

With backing from early Facebook investor Sean Parker, Brigade Media LLC has already raised an impressive $9.3 million in funds to improve civic engagement from the federal level down to state and local politics

Guided by its scrappy startup ethic, Silicon Valley has disrupted entrenched industries from hotels to rental cars to pizza delivery, but a group of tech barons are raising the stakes with what may be their biggest challenge yet: American democracy.

Former Facebook president and Napster co-founder Sean Parker will command a $9.3 million war chest as CEO of Brigade Media LLC, a startup aimed at improving civic engagement in the U.S., according to an SEC filing made Monday.

With financial backing from other Silicon Valley bigwigs, including early Google investor Ron Conway and Salesforce.com CEO Marc Benioff, Brigade will take aim at boosting political engagement in government from the federal level down to state and local politics. “When you get beyond the federal level and certain statewide offices, most voters don’t know who’s making decisions on their behalf,” one anonymous source reportedly familiar with the matter told Politico.

Other big Silicon Valley names will join Parker on the company’s board, including Adam Conner as vice president of politics, John Thrall as vice president of engineering and David Henke on the board.

Citing anonymous insiders, Alex Wilhelm at Techcrunch reports Brigade will address the view that American democracy is not “scaling” properly to keep pace with changes in American society. Brigade, he says, will apply digital solutions to help voters stay informed and choose leaders.

TIME Senate

McConnell’s Tea Party Opponent Raises $1.12 Million In First Quarter

Matt Bevin
U.S. Senate candidate Matt Bevin (R-Ky), speaks to a gathering at FreePAC Kentucky, Saturday, April 5, 2014, at the Kentucky International Convention Center in Louisville, Ky. AP Photo/Timothy D. Easley

Though he’s trailing the Senate minority leader by more than 30 points, Matt Bevin's influx of cash could force McConnell to spend vital funds to defend himself

Updated 4/14/14 at 3:33pm to include McConnell’s first quarter fundraising numbers.

Matt Bevin, the Tea Party candidate challenging Senate minority leader Mitch McConnell in Kentucky, announced Monday that he raised $1.12 million from 30,000 donors in the first quarter of 2014.

“As Kentuckians learn the truth about Sen. McConnell’s record of repeatedly caving to President Obama and his long history of votes for bailouts, amnesty, and funding for Obamacare, they have rallied to our campaign,” Bevin, a businessman and first time candidate, said in a statement. “With the help of these grassroots conservatives, we will make history when we win on May 20.”

McConnell’s campaign announced Monday it raised $2.4 million in the first quarter of 2014 for a total this cycle of $22.3 million and ended the quarter with $10.4 million cash on hand in what will surely end up as one of the most expensive Senate campaigns ever waged. And despite the strong first quarter fundraising figure, Bevin still trails McConnell in polls by more than 30 points.

But Bevin’s fundraising, on the strength of endorsements from local and national Tea Party groups, shows the Tea Party is not going quietly into the night, despite—or perhaps because of— McConnell’s threat to “crush” Tea Party insurgents this cycle. Tea Party candidates who upset mainstream Republicans are widely believed to have cost the GOP the Senate majority in the 2010 and 2012 cycles.

While Bevin is unlikely to catch McConnell in the polls with 42 days left of campaigning, he can force McConnell to spend more money to defend himself in radio and television ads, money that McConnell would prefer to save for a tough general election against the likely Democratic candidate, Kentucky Secretary of State Alison Lundergan Grimes.

The race is expected to cost more than $100 million in total. And in the end Republicans might have to make a Sophie’s Choice: If, in the final sprint, McConnell is still struggling, do they spend their money to save him, or the Senate majority? As my story on McConnell in this week’s print magazine outlines, Kentucky voters and Senate Republicans both will have to decide: how much is a leader worth?

TIME Foreign Policy

House Speaker John Boehner Visits Afghanistan

Speaker of the House John Bohener arrives for his weekly news conference on Capitol Hill, April 10, 2014 in Washington, DC.
Speaker of the House John Bohener arrives for his weekly news conference on Capitol Hill, April 10, 2014 in Washington, DC. Drew Angerer—Getty Images

Republican delegation's visit comes as presidential elections continue, and as U.S. officials weigh how many—if any—American troops to leave in the country after the end of the year, when U.S. operations there are set to conclude

Speaker of the House John Boehner visited Afghanistan Monday, the highest-profile visit by an American official since that country’s first round of presidential voting earlier this month.

Boehner and a number of House Republicans met with American forces, as well as Ambassador James Cunningham and General Joseph Dunford, the commander of the International Security Assistance Force and U.S. Forces in Afghanistan. According to a statement from Boehner’s office, “the delegation sent a strong, unequivocal message that the House of Representatives wants to maintain a right-sized presence in Afghanistan to successfully complete the work that has been done to date, and to honor the sacrifice of thousands of troops and civilians, as well as their families.”

The Republican delegation’s visit comes as U.S. officials weigh how many—if any—American troops to leave in Afghanistan after the end of the year, when U.S. operations there are set to conclude. President Barack Obama has stated a desire to keep some American troops in Afghanistan for counterterrorism and training purposes, but ordered the Pentagon in February to draw up plans for a complete withdrawal from the country, as Afghan President Hamid Karzai refused to sign a Bilateral Security Agreement that would provide legal protections for remaining U.S. troops. However, every frontrunner in the presidential election to replace Karzai has said they would sign the bilateral agreement.

Boehner sought to pay tribute to troops who had fought in Afghanistan since the attacks of Sept. 11, 2001. “Many Americans have sacrificed to secure these goals, and far too many have made the ultimate sacrifice or suffered life-changing wounds in the past twelve years of fighting,” he said in a statement. “Now, the Afghans are poised to elect a new government for the first time in their history. We must honor the sacrifices of the Americans and Afghans who have given so much to reach this point and continue our work together.”

House Education & Workforce Committee Chairman John Kline (R-MN), Natural Resources Committee Chairman ‘Doc’ Hastings (R-WA), Ways & Means Committee Chairman Dave Camp (R-MI), Rep. Tom Latham (R-IA), Rep. Devin Nunes (R-CA), Rep. Greg Walden (R-OR), and Rep. Steve Womack (R-AR) accompanied Boehner on the trip, according to the statement.

Obama last visited Afghanistan in May 2012.

TIME

Morning Must Reads: April 14

Capitol
The early morning sun rises behind the US Capitol Building in Washington, DC. Mark Wilson—Getty Images

In the news: Ukraine; Mideast peace process; Four years since the Haiti earthquake; 3 killed in Kansas City suburb; Hillary Clinton and Boeing; West Point grads likely headed for peaceful tours of duty for the first time in 13 years

  • “Turning to force to try to restore its authority in the vital industrial east, Ukraine’s government announced Sunday it was sending in troops to try to quash an increasingly brazen pro-Russian insurgency, despite repeated warnings from the Kremlin.” [AP]
  • How the Obama Peace Process Went ‘Poof’ [Politico]
  • Four Years Later: The Heartbreaking Failure of Haiti’s Recovery [New Republic]
  • Window Open On Secret Camp Within Guantanamo [AP]
  • “The end of the war in Iraq and the winding down of the war in Afghanistan mean that the graduates of the West Point class of 2014 will have a more difficult time advancing in a military in which combat experience, particularly since the attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, has been crucial to promotion. They are also very likely to find themselves in the awkward position of leading men and women who have been to war…” [NYT]
  • Kansas City Shooting Is Hate of An Ancient Vintage [TIME]
  • “Lawmakers are gone from Washington for their two-week spring break, having packed with them the chances for big-ticket legislation through the rest of the year.” [National Journal]
  • For Hillary Clinton and Boeing, a Beneficial Relationship [WashPost]
  • K Street Loses a Loyal Ally in Kathleen Sebelius [WashExaminer]
  • “Casino king Sheldon Adelson wants to ban Internet gambling. But states are moving fast to legalize, and even the super PAC billionaire may not be able to stop them.” [Slate]
TIME Health Care

Sebelius: Obamacare Rollout Was ‘Terribly Flawed’

Obama Announces His Choice For Health and Human Services Secretary To Succeed Sebelius
Secretary Kathleen Sebelius and President Obama on April 11, 2014 in Washington, DC. Mark Wilson—Getty Images

Former Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius speaks frankly just days after her resignation about the botched introduction of the Affordable Care Act, saying original estimates of its timetable were "flat-out wrong"

Former Secretary of Health and Human Services Kathleen Sebelius called the rollout of the government’s healthcare reform law “terribly flawed” and said the administration’s original predictions about its timetable were “flat-out wrong” in a Sunday interview on NBC’s Meet the Press following her resignation last week.

Sebelius attempted to stay positive while acknowledging the failures of the rollout. “Could we have used more time and testing? You bet. I’ve said that from the start,” she told NBC‘s Andrea Mitchell. “But the site actually works. And the great thing is, there’s a market behind the site that works even better. People have competitive choices and real information for the first time ever in this insurance market.”

The rollout of the Affordable Care Act was flawed from its Oct. 1, 2013 launch date, mostly because of technical glitches and web outages affecting the federal Healthcare.gov site. Republicans cite the flawed launch as further evidence that the Affordable Care Act represents unacceptable government overreach. But despite the poor rollout, the number of enrollees in healthcare plans under the law ended up exceeding the Obama administration’s target of 7 million people.

Sebelius also partially attributed the technical failures to the fact that the administration didn’t know until 6 months before enrollment which states would be building their own sites and which would be using the federal site, calling the web development “a moving target.”

The former Secretary also said she didn’t think the White House oversold the program, but instead said that the problem of reforming health insurance was so thorny it defied easy solutions. “I think what we said from the outset was, you know, this was fixing a very broken market– where individuals really were on their own,” she said. “If you were healthy and wealthy, you could get coverage. If you weren’t, you were pretty much on your own”

When asked whether her resignation was voluntary or whether she had been ousted, Sebelius said she had been planning to leave at the end of the first term but didn’t want to jump ship before the health care rollout was complete.

[NBC]

 

 

TIME 2014 Election

Tea Party Divided In Nebraska Republican Senate Race

Ben Sasse
Ben Sasse, Republican congressional candidate from Nebraska Tom Williams—CQ-Roll Call/Getty Images

How the Cornhusker State primary explains the Republican Party's challenge in 2014

Elections are like any other job hunt: the key to getting selected is often to have the right people vouch for you. Intelligence and experience are wonderful attributes in a campaign. But if your opponent boasts connections to powerful people with fat wallets, all the town halls and policy papers in the world may not win you a ticket to Washington.

For Republican primaries candidates, some of the most coveted recommendations come from the cadre of national conservative groups whose money and reputation can lift an unknown challenger. Of all the conservative upstarts running in 2014, Ben Sasse of Nebraska has been among the best at winning their support.

Sasse, the 42-year-old president of Nebraska’s Midland University, has piled up endorsements from groups like Club for Growth and the Senate Conservatives Fund, as well as from boldface names like Utah Republican Senator Mike Lee and House GOP star Paul Ryan. The endorsements have boosted Sasse in a competitive Republican primary to succeed retiring Republican Senator Mike Johanns.

Sasse needed it. His top competitor in the May 13 primary, former state treasurer and Navy aviator Shane Osborn, has the tacit support of key party power brokers, include Senate Republican leader Mitch McConnell. When FreedomWorks—the biggest national conservative group to endorse Osborn—abruptly threw its support to Sasse in late March, the decision seemed to cement Sasse’s stature as the Tea Party choice.

But things are never so simple in the great Gordian knot of Republican politics.

On April 8, a coalition of 52 Nebraska conservatives released a letter stating that Sasse wasn’t their guy. Sasse is “NOT the choice of conservative, libertarian, and tea party movement activists and group leaders in Nebraska,” they wrote. “We are disappointed with the way DC organizations are telling Nebraskans what the Tea Party in Nebraska thinks.”

In fact, the collection of national endorsements may count as a strike against Sasse back home, explains Faron Hines, a pest management technician from Thayer, Neb., and a member of the York County Tea Party. “All of his endorsements are from out of state. Those big national groups don’t represent the people of Nebraska,” says Hines, who hasn’t endorsed a candidate but says he’s learning toward Osborn. “That isn’t the Nebraska way, and that does rile a few people. Who is he going to represent when he gets to Washington?”

Sasse’s supporters dismiss the letter as an effort to stanch the momentum of a surging candidate. “It’s obviously from Osborn,” says an adviser with one of the national groups backing Sasse. “They needed to do something.”

Osborn’s support is real: one recent poll showed him with a 35% to 24% edge. But Sasse has Tea Party support on the ground as well. (Two days after the missive against Sasse, more than 100 Nebraska conservatives signed a second letter singing his praises.) “Yes, we have support outside the state,” says Tyler Grassmeyer, Sasse’s campaign manager. “But we also have the most support inside the state.”

The race has emerged as a proxy fight for the factions battling to control the GOP. Both leading candidates have relied heavily on out-of-state fundraising. According to data compiled by the Center for Responsive Politics, Sasse has netted 59% of his $1.4 million from outside Nebraska and Osborn garnered 68% of the $939,000 he has raised from groups outside the Cornhusker State. The inverse is true of the race’s other two Republicans, who are lagging behind in the polls.

Once the national groups who egged on the government shutdown backed Sasse, the Republican Establishment ramped up their efforts in the opposite direction. McConnell has declared war on the Senate Conservative Fund, which is backing the Republican leader’s primary opponent. When Sasse asked to sit down with McConnell last fall to ease tensions, the meeting didn’t go too well. And while the Republican senate committee is officially neutral, they are helping Osborn behind the scenes with donors, say sources familiar with those discussions.

This is the flip side of winning powerful friends: you inherit their enemies as well.

TIME 2016 presidential election

Donald Trump: Politicians ‘All Bull****’

Businessman Donald Trump speaks at the inaugural Freedom Summit meeting in Manchester, New Hampshire
Donald Trump speaks at the inaugural Freedom Summit meeting for conservative speakers in Manchester, New Hampshire, April 12, 2014. Lucas Jackson—Reuters

Taking a potshot at the profession he may wish to join

Billionaire business mogul Donald Trump, perhaps priming his pitch for a possible 2016 presidential run, ended up digging on politicians at large during a conservative gathering Saturday.

“We need somebody who’s gonna get things done, and politicians are all talk and no action,” Trump said while speaking at a New Hampshire conservative meeting organized by Americans for Prosperity and Citizens United.

“All talk, it’s all bull—-,” Trump added.

The real estate magnate trumpeted his own achievements improving an ice-skating rink in New York City’s Central Park, reported The Hill, and mentioned his own plans to turn the Old Post Office in Washington, D.C. into a “tremendous hotel.”

“We need to make our country rich again,” Trump said at the event, which also featured Sen. Ted Cruz of Texas and Sen. Rand Paul of Kentucky. Trump said he is “taking a hard look” at making another presidential bid in 2016.

[The Hill]

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