Federal Bureau of Investigation

Secrecy and Safety

Bush's Law: The Remaking of American Justice By Eric Lichtblau (Pantheon, 384 pp., $26.95) I. In May 1940, defying a congressional ban, President Franklin D. Roosevelt secretly authorized warrantless wiretapping inside the United States. His attorney general, Robert Jackson, had ordered a halt to the wiretapping a few months earlier, after the Supreme Court made clear that the Communications Act of 1934 prohibited it. But when J.

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Pimp My Ride

On the road with Ron Paul's merry band of misfits and his hooker fan club.

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Last week, I wrote about The Hunting Party, a film that tried (and failed) to integrate geopolitics into a black comedy. This week, The Kingdom attempts the only slightly less daunting task of integrating geopolitics into an action film. (Rather see a movie that leaves out the geopolitics altogether? I'm afraid you have a fewfrustratingmonths ahead of you.) That The Kingdom manages, to at least some degree, to accomplish the feat is a tribute to its director, Peter Berg (Friday Night Lights, The Rundown), who guides the film with poise and intelligence.

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Barbourism

If, several decades from now, anthropologists set out to locate the spiritual hub of early twenty-first-century Washington, they could do worse than the Caucus Room, that bunker of a steakhouse across from the FBI building downtown. Founded seven years ago by a bipartisan klatch of moneymen and influence-peddlers--among them, famed lobbyist Tommy Boggs, Bush-family henchman C. Boyden Gray, and Clinton fund-raiser Terry McAuliffe--the restaurant caters to the bland appetites and bulging egos of Washington's expense-account elite.

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Chuck Grassley's suspicion of institutional power.

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I. In late 1988, when I set out to write a life of Whittaker Chambers,the cold war had reached its ceremonial endgame: Mikhail Gorbachevacknowledging the autonomy of peoples long after they had liberatedthemselves, valiant students halting tank columns in TiananmenSquare. It was an impressive, if occasionally hollow, spectacle,and it inspired a chorus of sweeping pronouncements in the UnitedStates.

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Progmation

I DEAD IN ATTIC By Chris Rose (Chris Rose Books, 158 pp., $13) BREACH OF FAITH: HURRICANE KATRINA AND THE NEAR DEATH OF A GREAT AMERICAN CITY By Jed Horne (Random House, 412 pp., $25.95) THE STORM By Ivor van Heerden and Mike Bryan (Viking, 308 pp., 25.95) THE GREAT DELUGE: HURRICANE KATRINA, NEW ORLEANS, AND THE MISSISSIPPI GULF COAST By Douglas Brinkley (William Morrow, 716 pp., $29.95) PATH OF DESTRUCTION: THE DEVASTATION OF NEW ORLEANS AND THE COMING AGE OF SUPERSTORMS By John McQuaid and Mark Schleifstein (Little, Brown, 386 pp., $26) DISPATCHES FROM THE EDGE: A MEMOIR OF WAR, DISASTERS,

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It's 11:20 p.m., and agent Jack Bauer has had a very long day. In the morning, he worked to rescue the secretary of defense and his daughter (who also happens to be Bauer's girlfriend) from a terrorist kidnapping and Web- telecast execution. The afternoon was mostly spent unraveling a plot to melt down all of the nation's 104 nuclear reactors simultaneously.

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It took Dave Marash about four years as a Washington anchor to become disgusted with the pandering, the triviality, and the sensationalism of TV news. Marash was a paragon of seriousness, as his bearded chin and intense eyes announced to even casual viewers of WRC-TV, Washington's local NBC affiliate, and, by 1989, he was fed up.

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Wire Trap

 THE REVELATION BY The New York Times that the National Security Agency (NSA) is conducting a secret program of electronic surveillance outside the framework of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) has sparked a hot debate in the press and in the blogosphere. But there is something odd about the debate: It is aridly legal. Civil libertarians contend that the program is illegal, even unconstitutional; some want President Bush impeached for breaking the law. The administration and its defenders have responded that the program is perfectly legal; if it does violate FISA (the administr

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