Topics: Dec. 19

Join host Brit Hume and FOX's Team Washington weekdays at 6 p.m. ET for "Special Report" — Find out what's happening inside the Beltway and on the world stage on tonight's show.

• President Bush called on Congress to renew the anti-terror Patriot Act before it expires at the end of the year. While raising his voice, he challenged Senate Democratic Leader Harry Reid and Democratic Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton without naming them, to allow a final vote on legislation renewing the anti-terror legislation saying for them to go home and explain why these cities are safer without the extension. Wendell Goler has more.

• About 24 top former officials in Saddam Hussein's regime, including a biological weapons expert known as "Dr. Germ," have been released from jail, while a militant group released a video Monday of the purported killing of an American hostage. Greg Palkot reports from Baghdad.

• And President Bush, in an end-of-year news conference, said that he has the authority to allow the NSA to wiretap people in the U.S. Democrats say he doesn't. Bush said a "two-minute phone conversation" between someone in the U.S. linked to Al Qaeda and operatives elsewhere could lead to the loss of thousands of lives so he will do what he deems necessary to protect us at home. Jim Angle explains.

• Then, facing tough questions from battle-weary troops in Iraq, Vice President Dick Cheney cited signs of progress in Iraq on Sunday and signaled that military changes could come in 2006. James Rosen is traveling with the vice president and files this report.

• During a House all-night session a $453 billion defense-spending bill became the flypaper for issues that have eluded congressional compromise. Those included oil drilling in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge and $29 billion for hurricane relief, along with an additional $2 billion to help low-income families with home heating costs; and $3.8 billion to prepare for possible bird flu pandemic. Brian Wilson has more.

• And House and Senate negotiators yesterday reached a year-end deal on a $42 billion budget-cuts package. Now Republican leaders just have to find the votes to pass it. Immigration is still a loose end on Capitol Hill. Major Garrett has a report.

• And in Bolivia, Socialist Evo Morales appears to have won Sunday’s presidential elections. He has described himself as Washington's "nightmare" and has expressed admiration for Venezuela's President Hugo Chavez, a longtime foe of the United States. Steve Harrigan reports from La Paz.

• Then, Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon suffered a mild stroke on Sunday and is expected to return home on Tuesday. Speculation about the impact of the incident on the future of his new party and the March election is just beginning. Jennifer Griffin has a report.

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About the Show

Anchored by Washington news veteran Brit Hume, "Special Report with Brit Hume" provides an in-depth look at the day's news and offers a daily topical discussion of political issues impacting the nation.

Hume serves as host to key newsmakers, political pundits and FOX News contributors exchanging views about political matters from taxes and Social Security to international affairs and the political scandal of the day.

Hume brings a historical perspective to the political scene that is rarely rivaled. Born and raised in Washington, D.C., he has covered the policies, procedures and players in the national game called politics for more than 30 years. The Baltimore Sun referred to him as "the very personification of the political establishment."

Each program features a two-minute segment called The Grapevine, which reels off the latest outrageous news nuggets, political poll results and in-the-Beltway gossip that viewers will not see on any other news program. The New York Daily News describes The Grapevine as a must see that, "will make you sound smart around the water cooler… the next day."

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