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Friday Flashback: NSA spying, woes and more

Senate Intelligence Committee chair Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-CA) during a hearing in September on Capitol Hill.
Senate Intelligence Committee chair Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-CA) during a hearing in September on Capitol Hill.
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Fasten your seatbelt, power up your electronic devices, because it's time for our weekly analysis of the news, the Friday Flashback. Joining the show today is James Rainey of the LA Times and Alex Seitz Wald of National Journal.  

Everybody spies on their friends, right? That's one excuse, but it sounds pretty junior high. Let's start with you Alex. I guess the real problem is here is that the NSA violated the cardinal rule of spying: Don't get caught.

California Senator Dianne Feinstein heads the Senate Intelligence Committee, and she's generally be supportive of the spy agencies. But this week, she was shocked. She claimed she didn't know about this program to spy on allied leaders, and she called for a total review of all intelligence programs. How could the chair of the Intelligence Committee not know about this program? How could the President not know?

What curbs could Congress realistically put on the intelligence community?

It's pretty clear that Edward Snowden is going to continue to drop bombshells. Should the White House consider making some kind of deal with him? Maybe promising to end some of these practices, if he promises to stop putting out the dirty laundry.

Forget Angela Merkel. We also learned this week — thanks to Snowden — that the NSA managed to tap into data centers run by internet giants like Yahoo and Google, without their knowledge. Is this going to make life difficult for American-based companies to expand their global businesses?

If spy-gate wasn't enough of a problem for the White House, there's that whole healthcare thing. And the big problem for the President is all those cancellation notices going out to people who bought personal insurance coverage. Many of those people feel like the President lied to them. 

It should have been clear to everyone that many people who had plans who didn't meet the minimum requirements of the health care law would get these notices. How did the administration not anticipate this?

There were also allegations this week that personal data people enter into the site might not be fully secure. Is this a real worry, or just a political attempt to scare people?

The President chose to go to Boston this week, where he tried to compare his healthcare plan with that of his former rival, Mitt Romney. The administration is noting that Romneycare got off to a slow and rocky start, but now it's widely popular. Can you really compare the two programs?

More problems for the President in the Senate. Yesterday, Republicans blocked the nominations of two Obama appointees. What's going on there.

Seems like this doesn't bode well for negotiations over the budget.  Remember, the government runs out of money again just after the first of the year. Was last month's experience with the government shutdown not quite painful enough to make everyone play nice?