HARI SREENIVASAN: Carbon dioxide in the earth’s atmosphere has now reached levels not seen for two to three million years. The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration reports that concentration topped 400 parts per million yesterday at a measuring station in Hawaii.
Before the Industrial Revolution, carbon dioxide levels were far lower. But levels of the greenhouse gas have risen steadily, despite recent efforts to slow emissions.
The last of three women who had been held captive in Cleveland was released from the hospital today. 32-year-old Michelle Knight was abducted in 2002. She has told police that her alleged captor, Ariel Castro, starved and beat her to make her miscarry at least five times.
Meanwhile, DNA tests confirmed that Castro fathered a six-year-old girl found at his rundown house. Her mother is Amanda Berry, another of the women held captive.
The Obama administration faced new challenges today to its statements on the deadly attack at the U.S. consulate in Benghazi, Libya. Ambassador Christopher Stevens and three other Americans died there last Sept. 11th.
The latest twist in a who-knew-what-and-when about Benghazi came in the form of an ABC News report. It said the official talking points on the incident were heavily edited to delete any reference to al-Qaidaprevious terror warnings.
Five days after the attack, U.N. Ambassador Susan Rice drew on the talking points, saying the incident was a Muslim protest that got out of hand.
This week, at a House hearing, Gregory Hicks, the former deputy chief of mission in Libya, said he was shocked by Rice’s statement.
GREGORY HICKS, Former Deputy Chief Of Mission, Libya: I was stunned. My jaw dropped and I was embarrassed.
REP. TREY GOWDY, R-S.C.: Did she talk to you before she went on the five Sunday talk shows?
GREGORY HICKS: No, sir.
HARI SREENIVASAN: White House officials — from spokesman Jay Carney to Vice President Biden — have maintained the talking points came from intelligence agencies. The ABC account says the CIA’s initial talking points draft did mention a spontaneous protest, but it also said Islamist militants were involved.
It was revised at least a dozen times, mainly at the behest of the State Department. Spokeswoman Victoria Nuland e-mailed White House officials and the intelligence community, urging that references to terror and al-Qaidabe removed. Nuland argued that it could be abused by members of Congress to beat up the State Department for not paying attention to warnings.
But today, White House Press Secretary Jay Carney faced a battery of new questions, and he insisted again there was no effort to hide anything.
JAY CARNEY, White House Press Secretary: We believed based on the intelligence assessment that extremists were involved, and there were suspicions about what affiliations those extremists might have. But there were not — there was not hard, concrete evidence.
And so Ambassador Rice, in those shows, talked about the possibility that al-Qaida might be involved or other al-Qaidaaffiliates might be involved, or non- al-QaidaLibyan extremists, which I think demonstrates that there was no effort to play that down.
HARI SREENIVASAN: Republicans have insisted the administration botched security in Benghazi and the response to the attack, and ever since have tried to cover it up. They’re promising more hearings to come.
The Internal Revenue Service has admitted it flagged some conservative groups for more aggressive reviews during the 2012 election. They were singled out if their applications for tax-exempt status included the words “Tea Party” or “Patriot.”
The head of the IRS division overseeing tax-exempt groups said today the practice was wrong. She said no high-level IRS officials knew it was happening at the time.
The creator of the world’s first fully functioning 3D printable handgun has removed the blueprints from its website. Federal authorities ordered the action. They say Defense Distributed may have violated export control laws by posting the design files for its Liberator gun online. The organization says by the time the blueprints were taken down, they had already been downloaded more than 100,000 times.
The new skyscraper at Ground Zero in New York now stands its full height. Applause erupted as construction workers hoisted the final portion of a 408-foot silver spire to the top of One World Trade Center. It tops out the building at a total of 1,776 feet. The new structure will be the tallest in the U.S. and the third tallest in the world. It’s being built at the northwest corner of where the Twin Towers stood before the 9/11 attacks.
Wall Street finished today with its third straight week of gains. The Dow Jones industrial average added nearly 36 points to close at 15,118. The Nasdaq rose 27 points to close at 3,436. For the week, the Dow gained one percent. The Nasdaq rose 1.7 percent.
Those are some of the day’s major stories. Now, back to Jeff.