Diplomat Breathes Fresh Life Into Benghazi-Gate: Washington Post: "As the weakly protected U.S. diplomatic compound in eastern Libya came under attack the night of Sept. 11, 2012, the deputy head of the embassy in Tripoli sought in vain to get the Pentagon to scramble fighter jets over Benghazi in a show of force that might have averted a second attack on a nearby CIA complex. Hours later, according to excerpts of the account by the U.S. diplomat, Gregory Hicks, American officials in the Libyan capital sought permission to deploy four U.S. special operations troops to Benghazi aboard a Libyan military aircraft early the next morning. They were told to stand down. Congressional investigators released a partial transcript of Hicks’s testimony Monday in advance of a hearing on Wednesday at which he is scheduled to appear. ... The account is certain to reignite a debate over whether the Obama administration has been sufficiently forthcoming in its public accounting of the events and missteps that resulted in the first death of a U.S. ambassador in the line of duty in a generation."
The White House's Version of Events: CBS News: "Obama administration officials have insisted that no military resources could have made it in time. A White House official told CBS News that, at the start of the attack, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs Martin Dempsey and Defense Secretary Leon Panetta 'looked at available options, and the ones we exercised had our military forces arrive in less than 24 hours, well ahead of timelines laid out in established policies.' Hicks is expected to be the first ground-level eyewitness to speak publicly in the nearly eight months since the terrorist attacks that killed Ambassador Stevens and three other Americans. When Stevens went missing, Hicks became the Chief of Mission for the U.S. in Libya."
Weigel Has Some Helpfuly Analysis Here: Benghazi: Countdown to Whistle-Blower Day. An important snippet: "What elevates this from a disagreement about tactics to a cover-up about a 'stand down' order that night? Right now, it depends on whether you think State is lying or not."
And Right On Time: Politico: "Mike Huckabee on Monday predicted that President Barack Obama won’t finish out his second term in light of the 'cover-up' of the deadly attack on the U.S. consulate in Benghazi and the former Arkansas governor called the affair 'more serious than Watergate.' 'I believe that before it’s all over, this president will not fill out his full term. I know that puts me on a limb,' the former Arkansas governor said on The Mike Huckabee Show. 'But this is not minor. It wasn’t minor when Richard Nixon lied to the American people and worked with those in his administration to cover-up what really happened in Watergate. But, I remind you — as bad as Watergate was, because it broke the trust between the president and the people, no one died. This is more serious because four Americans did in fact die.'
One Rather Big (and Convenient) Caveat: "Huckabee, however, said his predication about Obama 'will not happen' if the Democrats seize control of the House and retain control of the Senate next year. 'If they’re able to get control of the House and maintain the Senate, this will not happen because they won’t let it happen,' Huckabee said."
Feds Say They Foiled a Local "Terror Attack": NBC News: "Federal officials believe a localized 'terror attack' was thwarted when an FBI raid on a Minnesota man's mobile home turned up Molotov cocktails, pipe bombs and several firearms. Buford Rogers, 24, was apprehended Friday after the raid of his Montevideo, Minn., home. 'The FBI believes that a terror attack was disrupted by law enforcement personnel and that the lives of several local residents were potentially saved,” the Minneapolis FBI office said ... Authorities say the thwarted attack was a low-level case of domestic terrorism. The investigation remains ongoing, according to the FBI statement. Buford is linked to an unidentified militia group, officials said. The FBI wouldn’t disclose information Monday about the nature or target of the alleged plot, but authorities believe Rogers was targeting an area of western Minnesota, the Associated Press reported."
Making Sense of Sarin Gas in Syria: CBS News: "The White House says it's highly likely that Syrian President Bashar Assad's regime, not the rebel opposition, was behind any chemical weapons use in Syria. On Monday a U.N. panel looking into war crimes in Syria said it has not found conclusive evidence of chemical weapons use, backing away from a member's claims that there are indications rebel forces used the nerve agent sarin. The commission 'wishes to clarify that it has not reached conclusive findings as to the use of chemical weapons in Syria by any parties to the conflict,' the panel said. The U.N. statement comes after panel member and former war crimes prosecutor Carla Del Ponte told Swiss TV that the commission has indications Syrian rebel forces used nerve agent sarin as a weapon."
Background Checks May Still Be on the Table: Washington Post: "At least two Republican senators who recently voted against a bipartisan proposal to expand the national gun background check system have approached Democrats in recent days about possibly restarting debate on the issue, according to two senior Senate aides familiar with the talks. The aides, who asked not to be identified because they were not authorized to publicly discuss the talks, refused to identify the two Republicans. ... Senate aides and activists pushing for stricter gun laws say there are likely two forthcoming windows of opportunity for the Senate to return to gun legislation: Either in late May after the consideration of an Internet taxation bill and a measure reauthorizing water resource development projects, or later in the summer, once senators willing to change their votes on the issue have had enough time to reconsider their position."
Playing Politics: Politico: "The National Rifle Association has become, more than ever, part and parcel of the Republican Party. The officially nonpartisan group’s no-compromise strategy helped defeat the background check bill in the Senate last month and grow its membership ranks to 5 million. ... The result is on display at this weekend’s NRA annual meeting here, where Democrats are glaringly absent from the roster of speakers. It wasn’t always this way. Sen. Joe Manchin (D-W.V.) received a standing ovation two years ago at the NRA convention in Pittsburgh. Former Rep. Heath Shuler (D-N.C.) attended in 2010. Sen. Max Baucus (D-Mont.) spoke in 2009. This year, a host of potential 2016 Republican candidates pledged their fealty to the NRA. The keynote speaker at a Saturday night rally is Glenn Beck."
Update From Bangladesh: Reuters: "At least 20 Bangladeshis were killed on Monday in clashes between police and hardline Islamists demanding religious reforms, as violence spread beyond the capital Dhaka to other parts of the country. The clashes began on Sunday after 200,000 Islamist supporters marched in Dhaka to press demands critics said would amount to the 'Talibanisation' of a country that maintains secularism as state policy, but they were met by lines of police firing teargas and rubber bullets. On Monday, hundreds of protesters, many wearing white Muslim skull caps and throwing stones, re-grouped and police fired teargas, rubber bullets and water cannons to disperse them. Protesters set fire to vehicles, including two police cars, and stormed a police post on the outskirts of the capital, police said. Two policemen and a member of a paramilitary force were among the 13 people killed in the capital, said police official Shah Mohammad Manzur Kader."
A Shoe-Less and Handcuffed Escape: New York Times: "A search for an escaped, handcuffed prisoner snarled subway service in Manhattan, Brooklyn, and into the Bronx for more than two hours on Monday. The suspect remained at large for five hours before being caught in Harlem, the police said. On Monday around 10:15 a.m., the prisoner, identified as Vincens Vuktilaj, 18, a suspect in at least five chain-snatchings, was being escorted down the stairs of his building in Harlem when he pushed at least one police officer and fled, wearing jeans, a yellow sweater, no shoes and black socks. He disappeared into the 145th Street subway station of the A, B, C and D lines on St. Nicholas Avenue, the police said. The entire B line and parts of the A, C and D lines were shut down at 10:55 a.m., transportation officials said. Normal service was restored shortly after 1 p.m. Mr. Vuktilaj remained at large, but shortly after 3 p.m., he was captured around 133rd Street — still in handcuffs, the police said."
The SF Limo Fire: Associated Press: "A stretch limousine that burst into flames on a San Francisco Bay bridge, killing five women inside, was carrying one too many passengers, investigators said Monday. The state Public Utilities Commission had authorized the vehicle to carry eight or fewer passengers, but it had nine on the night of the deadly fire, California Highway Patrol Capt. Mike Maskarich said. He did not comment on whether the overcrowding may have been a factor in the deaths. The cause of the blaze remains under investigation, and the vehicle has not yet been inspected, Maskarich said. The Lincoln Town Car was packed with young women celebrating a girls' night out with a newlywed bride when it went up in flames Saturday night on the San Mateo-Hayward Bridge. The driver and four women were able to escape. The newlywed woman was among the dead."
A Few More Quick Hits From Slate—
- Crime: Most Wanted Monday: The Alleged Eco-Terrorist Who Had a Vegan Marshmallow Business
- Bad Astronomy: A Quick Note About Vaccinations
- Future Tense: What the Drone Debate Is Really About
- TNC: Rush Limbaugh Can’t Move on From Sandra Fluke (VIDEO)
- Moneybox: Bill Gates Probably Needs to Say Disruption More
See you back here tomorrow. Until then, tell your friends to subscribe, or simply forward the newsletter on and let them make up their own minds.