Immunity Granted:

The Supreme Court didn’t rule on affirmative action, the Voting Rights Act or gay marriage when it issued its latest round of decisions Monday, but it did weigh in on a case involving former Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld. The justices rejected a legal challenge by two American whistle-blowers who allege they were tortured by U.S. forces during the Bush administration’s war on terror. By ruling against the whistle-blowers, the justices affirmed a lower court ruling that said Rumsfeld couldn’t be personally sued over actions undertaken by subordinates under his directive, even those—like torture—that cross legal boundaries. (Read more)

Support for Snowden: A day after the disclosure that Edward Snowden was the source behind The Guardian’s and The Washington Post’s stories on the National Security Agency’s surveillance methods, a petition seeking to pardon him was started on the White House’s We the People site. “Edward Snowden is a national hero and should be immediately issued a full, free, and absolute pardon for any crimes he has committed or may have committed related to blowing the whistle on secret NSA surveillance programs,” the petition says. As of Monday afternoon, it had more than 26,000 signatures. However, USA Today cautions: “Don’t bet on it happening — Obama administration officials said the leaks have undermined national security and violated the law.” (Read more)

Bull’s-Eye on Booz: After the recent revelations about the NSA’s surveillance programs, Edward Snowden’s current employer, Booz Allen Hamilton, and the company’s majority owner, the Carlyle Group, are attracting lots of media attention. Booz Allen has strong ties to the government — in fact, the Obama administration’s chief intelligence officer, James R. Clapper Jr., is a former executive at Booz Allen, while the former chief intelligence officer of the Bush administration, John M. McConnell, currently works there. Meantime, the Carlyle Group also used to be known as having strong political connections — its former Washington employees include President George H.W. Bush and onetime Secretary of State James A. Baker III. The New York Times highlighted the financial links in a piece that appeared on its DealBook blog Monday: “Shares of Booz Allen were down about 4 percent in midmorning trading on Monday, at $17.24. That values the government consultancy at about $2.6 billion. … The buyout firm [Carlye Group] bought Booz Allen’s government contracting arm for $2.5 billion in 2008, when the consultancy separated the business from its commercial arm. The investment has worked out well for Carlyle so far, with Booz Allen having paid out more than $612 million in special dividends before its 2010 initial public offering.” (Read more)

Booker Review: On the heels of formally declaring his candidacy to become the next U.S. senator from New Jersey, a couple of new polls reveal that Democrat Cory Booker is the favorite to win the race. According to the latest Rutgers-Eagleton survey, the Newark mayor has a commanding lead over challengers Rep. Frank Pallone and Rep. Rush Holt in the Democratic primary. Booker garnered 55 percent of the vote, while Pallone and Holt both polled in the single digits. A new Quinnipiac University survey painted virtually the same picture, with Booker getting more than 50 percent of voter support. And as The Washington Post reported, “With Republicans unable to land a top-tier candidate, the real action is in the Democratic primary.” That means the race at this point is Booker’s to lose. (Read more)

Sean Con: A former colleague of Sean Hannity’s had some unflattering words to say about the Fox News host recently. During an interview with HuffPost Live last week, Sirius Left host Richard Bey said the conservative commentator was—well—less than intelligent on certain issues, to put it nicely. “I worked at ABC Radio with Sean [Hannity],” Bey said. “He doesn’t know anything about history. He knows what they give him on the talking points.” Which probably comes as no surprise to liberal media watchdog groups like Media Matters that have been highly critical of the right-wing host. (Read more)

Video of the Day: Bill Maher took supporters of Ronald Reagan to task during the most recent episode of his HBO program “Real Time.” The comedian debunked the notion put out by former Republican presidential nominee Bob Dole that Reagan wouldn’t have fit into today’s GOP. On the contrary, Maher says. “He’s the original, official pitchman for batshit,” Maher said, adding, “When you mainstream Reagan, the far right becomes the new middle.”

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