Bush defends eavesdropping program but offers no details: “This is a different era, a different war.” [WP, WP, NYT, USAT, USAT]
House approves $39.7b in cuts and drilling of ANWR; showdown expected in the Senate. Sen. Kerry: “Let’s be very clear about what’s happening here. Republicans — Senator Stevens in particular — are putting oil companies ahead of our troops.” [WP, WP, WP, NYT, USAT, LAT]
Approval of Bush rebounds to 47% in WP-ABC poll: “His approval rating on Iraq jumped 10 percentage points since early November, to 46 percent, while his rating on the economy rose 11 points, to 47 percent. A clear majority, 56 percent, said they approve of the way Bush is handling the fight against terrorism.” [WP]
Bush ” apparently decided that a passionate offense was his best defense”; his mood “was casual and crisp.” [WP]
ACLU claims the FBI has wrongly monitored antiwar, environmental, and civil rights groups; FBI used secret informants to track PETA for years. [NYT, WP]
Sen. Rockefeller penned hand-written note to Cheney about civil liberties concerns over eavesdropping. [WP]
Force reductions expected in Iraq, Afghanistan. [WP, NYT]

Senators still struggling over renewal of the Patriot Act. [USAT]
Leak to the Washington Times in 1998 about bin Laden‘s communication preferences “made it much more difficult for the National Security Agency to intercept his conversations,” the 9/11 commission found. [NYT]
Many Republicans welcome resistance from Democrats on security issues to differentiate their positions. [LAT]
House has frequently held controversial votes in the wee hours of the morning to avoid news cycles. [WP]
Sen. Baucus (D-Mont.) returns contributions linked to Abramoff. [WP]

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