The Cable

Congress Passes VA Overhaul

This post has been updated.

In a rare moment of bipartisan cooperation, Congress approved a $16.3 billion plan to overhaul the Department of Veterans Affairs, which has been dogged by allegations of mismanagement and neglect, including that it allowed veterans waiting for medical care to die. The Senate approved the bill in a 91-3 vote on Thursday, one day after the House version passed by a vote of 420 to 5. The bill now goes to the president's desk where it is expected to be signed into law.

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Israel and Hamas Agree on Truce to Bury the Dead

Facing mounting international pressure to halt the fighting in Gaza, Israel and Hamas agreed to observe a U.N.-brokered 72-hour "humanitarian cease-fire" to allow Palestinian civilians a respite from weeks of relentless violence to bury their dead, tend to their wounded, and stock up on food and water.

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Extensive Hamas Tunnel Network Points to Israeli Intelligence Failure

Israel launched its bloody offensive in Gaza to stop Hamas from lobbing missiles at major cities like Tel Aviv. The biggest challenge to the vaunted Israeli army, though, is coming from the ground, not the air: a sophisticated network of Hamas tunnels that have surprised Israeli security officials, caused a huge number of military fatalities, and struck fear into the hearts of many ordinary Israelis.

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CIA to Senate: Whoops, We Actually Did Break Into Your Computers

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"Nothing could be further from the truth." That was CIA Director John Brennan's response in March when confronted with allegations that the agency had spied on Senate staffers assembling a report on Bush-era detention and interrogation policies. "I mean we wouldn't do that. I mean that's just beyond the scope of reason in terms of what we would do," Brennan added before the Council on Foreign Relations.

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Syrian Torture Photos Prompt Calls for Action From Lawmakers

In an unusual briefing before the House Foreign Affairs Committee Thursday, a disguised Syrian defector shared photos he had taken before fleeing the war-torn country that document what appears to be widespread atrocities carried out by the regime of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad. The gruesome imagery depicting starved corpses and tortured bodies prompted criticisms by lawmakers, including Democrats, that Barack Obama's administration isn't doing enough to end Assad's reign of terror.

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