The Note's Must-Reads for Friday, May 06, 2011

Compiled by ABC News Digital News Associates and Desk Assistants Claudia Morales, Jacqueline Fernandez, Jayce Henderson, and Amanda VanAllen

PRESIDENT OBAMA/ BIN LADEN: ABC News’ Jonathan Karl: “ Sen. Carl Levin: 'High Levels' of Pakistani Government Knew Where Bin Laden Was” Sen. Carl Levin, D-Mich., chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee, tells ABC News he believes senior Pakistani officials knew Osama Bin Laden's location and has "no doubt" they know the location of other top terrorists, including Taliban leader Mullah Omar. "At high levels, high levels being the intelligence service ... they knew it," Levin said in an interview for ABC's "Subway Series" With Jonathan Karl. LINK New York Daily News’ Jonathan LemrIe, Allison Gendar and Corky Siemaszo: “ President Obama Visits Ground Zero, Lays Wreath and Greets 9/11 Victims in Solemn Salute” President Obama swooped into New York on Thursday for the first time since Osama Bin Laden was killed and for four hours the sadness of Sept. 11 lifted as the city united to close a tragic chapter in U.S. history. Obama had planned a solemn pilgrimage to Ground Zero and came prepared to serve as consoler-in-chief to those who lost loved ones on 9/11. LINK The Washington Post’s Sally Jenkins: “ At Ground Zero, Obama quietly completes a circle” Standing before the president was a flower wreath meant to signify closure for families of the victims of the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks, four days after U.S. commandos killed Osama bin Laden in Pakistan. It also represented completion of a circle at the Ground Zero site, from crematorium to cemetery to construction site. But the thing about a wreath is that it’s just a ring with a hole in the middle of it — and maybe that was appropriate. LINK

PRESIDENT OBAMA/ GOP 2012: The Washington Post’s Karen Tumulty and Nia-Malika Henderson: “ In first 2012 debate, GOP contenders hail bin Laden’s death, but still criticize Obama” In their first formal debate, a group of GOP presidential contenders on Thursday hailed the death of Sept. 11 mastermind Osama bin Laden but said that long-awaited success has not tempered their view that President Obama has been weak in his international leadership. LINK

Bloomberg’s John McCormick and Julie Hirschfeld Davis: “ Obama National Security Record Attacked at Republican Debate” Republicans considering a White House run criticized President Barack Obama’s leadership on national security in the primary campaign’s opening debate, questioning his judgment less than a week after a U.S. raid he authorized killed Osama bin Laden. At a forum that underscored the unformed nature of the Republican presidential field, five of Obama’s lesser-known prospective rivals sought to ding the president’s newly burnished foreign policy credentials following the terrorist mastermind’s death. LINK

USA Today’s Jackie Kucinich: “ GOP hopefuls go after Obama on foreign policy in debate” The death of Osama bin Laden did not stop Republican presidential contenders from hammering President Obama’s foreign policy during the first Republican debate of the 2012 cycle. LINK

The Washington Time’s David Eldridge: “ Pawlenty raps Obama in GOP debate” President Obama’s approval ratings have risen in recent days, but he was still a punching bag Thursday night for the Republican contenders who squared off in the nation’s first official 2012 presidential debate. LINK GOP: Politico’s Kasie Hunt: “ Foreign policy dominates GOP debate in South Carolina” The first Republican presidential primary debate — with some of the key contenders AWOL — kicked off the nomination fight Thursday with shots at President Barack Obama’s domestic and foreign policy.The faceoff, co-sponsored by Fox News and the South Carolina Republican Party, came just days after Obama announced that Osama bin Laden had been killed. Bin Laden’s death sharply reoriented the debate among the five candidates here — the first 15 minutes were spent on foreign policy — not jobs, the economy or the national debt, which have been key issues for the GOP. LINK MEDICARE: The New York Times’ Carl Hulse and Jackie Calmes: “ G.O.P. Rethinking Bid to Overhaul Medicare Rules” House Republicans signaled Thursday that they were backing away from the centerpiece of their budget plan — a proposal to overhaul Medicare — in a decision that underscored both the difficulties and political perils of addressing the nation’s long-term fiscal problems. LINK

The Wall Street Journal’s Janet Hook and Carol E. Lee: “ Medicare Recedes in Debt Talks” A new round of high-level budget negotiations opened Thursday, shadowed by vanishing expectations that Washington would rally around a broad budget bargain or an overhaul of entitlement programs this year. LINK

OTHER / LOCAL POLITICS: The Boston Globe’s Milton J. Valencia: “ Case against DiMasi laid out as trail begins” The corruption trial of former House speaker Salvatore F. DiMasi began yesterday with federal prosecutors describing him as a desperate, corrupt politician who worked with several associates to sell his office in exchange for hundreds of thousands of dollars in kickbacks. “This case is about how he . . . and two close friends used that office for their private gain,’’ Assistant US Attorney S. Theodore Merritt said during pointed opening statements yesterday. “It’s about three men, close friends, who used the immense power entrusted by voters . . . to line their pockets.’’ LINK OIL: LA Times’ Richard Simon: “ House Passes Measure to Expand Offshore Oil Drilling” With high gas prices becoming a hot political issue, the House on Thursday passed legislation that would expand offshore energy exploration, even though Congress has yet to pass new drilling safeguards a year after the massive gulf oil spill. The Republican-sponsored measure would open the Virginia coast to drilling and expand production in the Gulf of Mexico, but it faces opposition from the White House and long odds against passage in the Democratic-controlled Senate. LINK

ABC NEWS VIDEOS: “Native Americans Upset By Use of Geronimo Code Name” LINK “Obama Lays Wreath At Ground Zero” LINK

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