TODAY IN ONE PARAGRAPH: The National Security Agency is using a program named "MUSCULAR" to gather data from tech giants' internal databases, according to a new leak from Edward Snowden to The Washington Post. Meanwhile, HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius told Congress the failures of the Obamacare website were her responsibility, though she had plenty of other people—including contractors and the media—to blame for the fledgling law's early struggles. Meanwhile, the Federal Reserve announced it would stay the course on its stimulus-oriented monetary policy, and Chairman Ben Bernanke offered few clues about when the central bank would stop.
NEW LEAKS—NSA MORE 'MUSCULAR' THAN WE KNEW: New documents leaked by Edward Snowden and published by The Washington Post expose a secret surveillance program known as MUSCULAR, which sweeps up millions of records from Yahoo and Google everyday. The program's existence is noteworthy, as federal authorities used it to break into the tech giants' servers—even though the NSA already has separate, FISA court-approved methods for gathering much of the same information. Also revealed: Officials at the NSA like to gloat, and to do it with smiley faces. (NJ)
NSA DIRECTOR ALEXANDER REFUTES THE LEAK: Caught like a deer in the headlights on Bloomberg Television when the leaks went online, Keith Alexander said the NSA did not infiltrate the servers of Google and Yahoo. "Not to my knowledge. That's never happened.… The servers and everything that we do with those, those companies work with us. They are compelled to work with us."
SEBELIUS APOLOGIZES FOR SITE 'DEBACLE' AT HEARING: In her highly anticipated appearance before the House Energy and Commerce Committee, she took responsibility for the botched rollout of the Obamacare site but also pointed some fingers at the government contractors. She said Verizon's Terremark unit deserves credit for the site's recent outages, and blamed the press for hyping up insurance cancellations. (Sam Baker, NJ)
ON INSURANCE PLEDGE, DID OBAMA LIE OR, YET AGAIN, SIMPLY NOT KNOW? Fact checkers at The Washington Post have deemed Obama's repeated pledge--that Americans would be able to keep their health care if they liked it--a lie deserving of four Pinocchios. (Glenn Kessler, WaPo)
BUT WHILE WE'RE BLAMING PEOPLE, TRY THE GOP: Sure, Obama should have said "most" people get to keep their coverage, but Republicans want to force millions of people off their coverage (Medicaid), too. (Jonathan Cohn, TNR)
FED STIMULUS: The central bank announced it will continue its asset purchases and low interest rates. (Binyamin Appelbaum, NYT)
TOMORROW IN ONE PARAGRAPH: Obama will speak at the SelectUSA 2013 Investment Summit at Marriott Wardman Park Hotel. Treasury Secretary Jacob Lew will speak at 9:15 a.m. at the same summit about the U.S. economy. John Kerry will meet with Iraqi Foreign Minister Hoshyar Zebari at 3 p.m. The Senate is in session, but the House is out.
THE DARK FUTURE OF JOBS: It's not freelancing, it's restaurants and retail stores. (Tim Fernholz, Quartz)
'WALL STREET': Even the phrase makes people act more selfish. (Matthew O'Brien, The Atlantic)
SPYING ON YOUR CHILDREN: Technology makes it easy to do all day, everyday. But just because you can doesn't mean you should. (Judith Shulevitz, TNR)
LIFE MAP: This map simulation will show you the world's births and deaths. (James Hamblin, The Atlantic)
A HELPFUL HANDBOOK TO D.C.'S ANONYMOUS SOURCES: What's the difference between a "senior White House official" and a "senior administration official"? Just about every inside-the-Beltway story written these days attributes some anonymous quote to a vague, generic handle. This handy guide breaks it all down for you. (Grim/Linkins, HuffPo)
LAST NIGHT'S LATE NIGHT FUNNIES IN UNDER 3 MINUTES: The list of things Obama didn't know about grows to include the secret ingredients of pumpkin spice lattes and a Big Bird secret. (Reena Flores, NJ)
TEAM CANTOR OFFERS AMAZING HALLOWEEN COSTUME IDEAS: Going trick-or-treating? Sebelius and her tech support team is an inventive, timely outfit for this town. (Famous for DC)