Quick Takes

By Dan Froomkin
12:20 PM ET, 04/ 7/2009

Bob Egelko writes in the San Francisco Chronicle: "The Obama administration is again invoking government secrecy in defending the Bush administration's wiretapping program, this time against a lawsuit by AT&T customers who claim federal agents illegally intercepted their phone calls and gained access to their records. Disclosure of information sought by the customers, 'which concerns how the United States seeks to detect and prevent terrorist attacks, would cause exceptionally grave harm to national security,' Justice Department lawyers said in papers filed Friday in San Francisco." Electronic Frontier Foundation senior attorney Kevin Bankston says in a statement: "President Obama promised the American people a new era of transparency, accountability, and respect for civil liberties. But with the Obama Justice Department continuing the Bush administration's cover-up of the National Security Agency's dragnet surveillance of millions of Americans, and insisting that the much-publicized warrantless wiretapping program is still a 'secret' that cannot be reviewed by the courts, it feels like deja vu all over again."

Lisa Myers reports on the NBC Nightly News: "Documents made public by the White House revealed that [chief White House economic adviser Larry] Summers received about $5.2 million last year from a hedge fund, DE Shaw, for what was described as a part-time job, offering advice and interacting with traders, clients and investors. Summers also pulled down $2.7 million in speaking fees from big Wall Street firms, many which have since received bailout money, including more than $200,000 from Goldman Sachs and $99,000 from Citigroup. Some analysts see a problem in Summers' close financial ties to Wall Street." Financial analyst Barry Ritholz is shown saying: "The problem is that you become captured by the Wall Street perspective, by the banks' interest and you lose the ability to give objective advice to the president."

Mike Allen writes for Politico: "President Barack Obama, after a lightning-quick start for his agenda on Capitol Hill, is bracing for a much slower pace and big changes in his proposals as early urgency and excitement give way to the more languid rhythms that are the norm for Congress."

Amit R. Paley writes in The Washington Post: "A congressional oversight committee opened an investigation yesterday into whether the Obama administration is circumventing a law that limits lavish pay for executives at firms benefiting from the $700 billion federal bailout."

Holly Bailey blogs for Newsweek on a pool report about Obama's cold. Asked how he was feeling yesterday, "Obama said he was better. 'I've had it all week...You can hear it,' the president said. 'In London, I sounded like I had acorns up my nose.'"

The Associated Press reports that North Carolina's big NCAA championship win last night -- as predicted by Obama -- helped the president finish "in the top 20 percent of the 5 million-plus people who entered ESPN.com's pool."

Vicki Hyman writes in the Newark Star-Ledger: "'House' didn't lose a doctor when Lawrence Kutner, aka Kal Penn, committed suicide on last night's episode. The White House gained an associate director in the White House office of public liaison. Lawrence Kutner's death on Fox's 'House,' in the first 10 minutes no less, shocked viewers, but it was no surprise to Penn, who wanted to leave the highly-rated show to pursue a career in politics and public service. Active in the Barack Obama campaign, the 'Harold and Kumar' star tells Entertainment Weekly that he's been thinking about the move for a long time."

Mark Shanahan and Meredith Goldstein write in the Boston Globe: "Following in the footsteps of Bill and Hillary Clinton, President Barack Obama may vacation this summer on Martha's Vineyard, we're told. The White House wouldn't confirm the first family's vacation plans yesterday, but word is the Obamas have rented a house for two weeks at the end of August in the East Chop neighborhood of Oak Bluffs."

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