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Anchored by Jake Tapper, The Lead airs at 4 p.m. ET on CNN.

Anchored by Jake Tapper, The Lead airs at 4 p.m. ET on CNN.

On the Next Episode of The Lead

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national lead

December 11th, 2014
06:12 PM ET

John Brennan defends CIA after torture report in rare press conference

Washington (CNN) - CIA Director John Brennan on Thursday defended harsh interrogation techniques as providing "useful" information to authorities, including in the raid that led to the death of Osama bin Laden. But he said it is "unknowable" what information could specifically be attributed to those techniques.

"It is our considered view that the detainees who were subjected to enhanced interrogation techniques provided information that was useful and was used in the ultimate operation to go against Bin Laden," Brennan said.

Brennan's comments, in a rare news conference, come two days after a Senate panel released a blockbuster 528-page report detailing "enhanced interrogation techniques" - including mock executions, "rectal rehydration," sleep deprivation and beatings - in interrogations in the mid-2000s.

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politics lead

December 11th, 2014
06:09 PM ET

Liberal and conservative backlash throws spending bill in doubt

Washington (CNN) - With just hours left to pass a spending bill that would avoid a government shutdown, a $1.1 trillion compromise deal in the House appears to be in trouble.

Usually the fight is between House Republicans and Senate Democrats. But this battle is different.

In fact, things got so weird Thursday, a Senate Democrat made a passionate appeal to tea party Republicans to reject the bill.

A compromise bill will never make members of both parties happy, but what is it about this one that is causing so much backlash?

CNN's Dana Bash reports.

national lead

December 11th, 2014
05:59 PM ET

Heavy rain, power outages hit California; blizzards, flooding, high winds expected

Affected by the storm? Send your photos to CNN iReport, but please stay safe.

Los Angeles (CNN) - Be careful what you wish for, California.

What seemed a godsend of rain is now pummeling the drought-ravaged state with flood warnings in wine country, a potential winter storm in the Sierras and enough moisture to cause mass urban blackouts.

Wind gusts were so furious at an expected 120 mph that the typically smooth mountain waters of Lake Tahoe roiled with waves, prompting Californians to do what comes naturally to them: go surfing.

The storm left 150,000 customers without power Thursday in the San Francisco Bay Area, including 94,000 in the city itself, the National Weather Service said.

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pop lead

December 11th, 2014
05:57 PM ET

U.S. agency tries and fails to infiltrate Cuba's hip hop scene

(CNN) – In the famous words of rapper Eminem, if you had one shot, or one opportunity to seize everything you ever wanted, would you capture it, or just let it slip?

Well, if you are the U.S. Agency for International Development, and that opportunity was infiltrating the Cuban hip hop scene, the answer is let it slip – or more like let it fumble.
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buried lead

December 11th, 2014
05:54 PM ET

When the feds seized a T-Rex

Editor's note: Go inside one of the most amazing dinosaur discoveries and learn why the federal government seized it. CNN Films' "Dinosaur 13" premieres at 9 p.m. ET Thursday, December 11, on CNN.

(CNN) - Imagine spending your entire career searching for something buried somewhere within the Earth - and then when you miraculously find it, the federal government seizes your discovery.

That's the predicament paleontologist Peter Larson found himself in after he and his team unearthed a nearly complete Tyrannosaurus Rex skeleton in 1990, preserved for some 65 million years in what is now the state of South Dakota.

It is the most intact T-Rex skeleton ever found.

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