Essential Reads

Essential Reads is your one-stop source for the top stories of the day as reported by your favorite Washington Week panelists. It's a simple way to save time and stay informed about the news you need to know. Check it out every day!

Jun 19, 2014

  • Details of complaint against captured Benghazi suspect mostly secret

    By Nancy Youssef and Michael Doyle, McClatchy

    The elite U.S. commandos who snatched an alleged plotter of the Benghazi consulate attack were acting on a bare-bones criminal complaint whose crucial details remain secret. While some operational color and background are coming to light, the legal charges against Ahmed Abu Khatalla are summed up publicly in a one-page document assigning his case to the chief judge of the U.S. District Court in Washington. Even well-placed lawmakers await further details.

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  • Under Old Management

    By John Dickerson, Slate

    Meet the new leader, same as the old leader. Rep. Eric Cantor’s defeat last week was a message from grass-roots conservatives to Washington’s Republican leaders: No more business as usual. But on the eve of the election to replace Cantor as majority leader—the second most powerful person in the House of Representatives—it doesn’t look like there’s been much of a change in how the House will function. Rep. Kevin McCarthy, who was in the No. 3 position, is now going to be elevated to Cantor’s old post. McCarthy is not an agent of change. On the issue of immigration, for example, which helped inflame opposition to Cantor, McCarthy is even more moderate. (He has in the past expressed support for giving undocumented immigrants a path to legal status.) House Speaker John Boehner, whom grass-roots activists criticize as a capitulator and dealmaker, is more powerful than ever, because without Cantor waiting in the wings, there is less threat that another member of the House could harness his grass-roots critics.

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  • Clinton navigates foreign policy balancing act as Obama leadership questioned

    By Dan Balz, The Washington Post

    It is a near-perfect storm that has come together as Hillary Rodham Clinton tours the country promoting her new book and preparing for a possible presidential campaign in 2016. At a time when she is drawing attention to her record as secretary of state, the Middle East has become dangerously chaotic and President Obama’s approval ratings are sliding. That has left Clinton in a difficult position of trying to claim success when she was in office while shielding herself, carefully, from real or perceived weaknesses in the administration’s handling of crises in Syria, Iraq, Libya and other trouble spots.

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Jun 18, 2014

  • U.S. Seizure of Suspect in 2012 Benghazi Assault Ends Long Manhunt

    By Peter Baker, Michael Schmidt and Eric Schmitt, The New York Times

    American commandos operating under the cover of night seized the man suspected of leading the deadly attack on the United States Mission in Benghazi, Libya, the government announced on Tuesday, ending a manhunt that had dragged on for nearly two years and inflamed domestic and international politics. With drones hovering overhead, about two dozen Delta Force commandos and two or three F.B.I. agents descended on the outskirts of Benghazi just after midnight local time on Monday; grabbed the suspect, Ahmed Abu Khattala; stuffed him into a vehicle and raced away, according to officials briefed on the operation. No shots were fired, and the suspect was spirited out of Libya to a United States Navy warship in the Mediterranean.

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  • Why Delta Force Waited So Long to Grab a Benghazi Ringleader

    By Kimberly Dozier and Eli Lake, The Daily Beast

    In echoes of the raid to capture Osama bin Laden, Delta Force operators practiced the raid to capture Ahmed abu Khatallah on a mock-up of his compound at Fort Bragg before going into the real thing. The mission to capture Ahmed abu Khatallah, one of the ringleaders of the September 11, 2012 attacks on the U.S. compound in Benghazi, Libya was more than a year in the making.

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  • Neighborhood Watches in Baghdad Part of Increased Security

    With Martha Raddatz, ABC News

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  • ISIS -- is it too extreme to survive?

    By Doyle McManus, LA Times

    Just how terrifying is the Sunni Muslim extremist group that's taken over a huge swath of territory in northern Iraq? Here are some clues: After seizing Iraq's second-largest city, the group, known as the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria, or ISIS, boasted of massacring 1,700 prisoners in cold blood.

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  • How will House Republicans elect their new leader?

    By Ed O'Keefe, The Washington Post

    After nine days of intense jockeying after the surprise primary defeat of Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-Va.), House Republicans are scheduled to gather Thursday behind closed doors in a setting mirroring the secrecy of a papal election and the elimination rules of a televised singing contest. The process of electing a new Republican majority leader -- and likely a new House majority whip -- is steeped in traditions established years ago during similar contests for speaker, majority leader and whip. Several aides described details of the elections on the condition of anonymity, because they are not authorized to speak publicly about the process.

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Jun 17, 2014

  • Suspect in Benghazi attacks, snatched by U.S. military, will be tried in civilian court

    By Nancy Youssef and Lesley Clark, McClatchy

    The Pentagon confirmed Tuesday that U.S. Special Forces captured a top Libyan suspect in the September 2012 attack in Benghazi, Libya, that killed U.S. ambassador Chris Stevens along with three other Americans. It was the first time that U.S. forces have detained any of the scores of suspects in the attacks, which have been the source of congressional investigations and angry recriminations.

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  • Obama ordering 275 military personnel to Iraq; may send special ops

    By Christi Parsons and David Cloud, Tribune Newspapers

    In a sign of the growing danger in Iraq, President Obama notified Congress on Monday that he was sending up to 275 U.S. military personnel “to provide support and security for U.S. personnel and the U.S. Embassy in Baghdad.” Obama also is considering sending 100 or fewer special operations troops to Iraq to advise its armed forces as it battles Sunni Muslim insurgents, according to a senior U.S. official. It was unclear whether they would be among the 275 military personnel or in addition to them.

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  • SCOTUS to Examine Online Threats

    With Pete Williams, NBC News

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  • Why Paul Ryan took a pass on running for House majority leader

    By Robert Costa and Karen Tumulty, The Washington Post

    Amid the jockeying that has been taking place on Capitol Hill following House Majority Leader Eric Cantor’s primary defeat, it has been somewhat surprising that one of the GOP’s most famous names has gone largely unmentioned. But that is because Rep. Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) has quietly and firmly shut the door on any prospect of being part of the GOP’s elected House leadership team.

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  • A House GOP leadership primer: What do the speaker, majority leader and whip actually do?

    By Ed O'Keefe, The Washington Post

    House Republicans are scheduled to meet Thursday to choose a new majority leader and majority whip — a snap election called in the wake of the primary defeat of Majority Leader Eric Cantor (Va.). The new leader and whip will serve alongside House Speaker John A. Boehner (R-Ohio). But what does each of the leaders actually do?

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  • Heal Thyself

    By John Dickerson, Slate

    Listening to Republican presidential candidates talk to GOP activists in Iowa, it’s hard to tell which party is in more trouble. The president and his party are so bankrupt and swaddled in serial stupidities that a string of electoral routs is surely coming, they say. Common-sense voters will drive Democrats from Congress and the presidency before they undermine the American Dream further. Still, each GOP hopeful seems compelled to pitch himself as a Republican savior: the only solution to a broken party that won’t win the presidency without his unique brand of political repair. “You guys have a strong force here,” said Sen. Rand Paul to the attendees at the Iowa Republican Party’s state convention on Saturday, “but frankly the president won Iowa twice. So we can’t do the same ole same old.”

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  • Jeb Bush Charts Tricky Course With Embrace of Common Core

    By Beth Reinhard, The Wall Street Journal

    Most potential Republican presidential contenders are renouncing the national educational standards known as Common Core. Former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush, who has championed measuring academic achievement for two decades, is doubling down. Resistance to Common Core is growing among the party's activists, who see it as a federal incursion into local schools. Republican governors of South Carolina and Oklahoma last month joined Indiana in opting out. Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal, who two years ago said the initiative "will...

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Jun 16, 2014

  • Martha Raddatz in Baghdad

    With Martha Raddatz, ABC News

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  • Iraq options limited

    With John Harwood, CNBC

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  • Obama’s standard for aiding Iraq may be impossible for quarreling politicians to meet

    By Nancy Youssef and Lesley Clark, McClatchy

    President Barack Obama said Friday that the United States was considering how it might assist the government of Iraq in its fight against the Islamic extremists who seized much of the country this week, but only on the condition that Iraq’s many feuding factions set aside their differences and commit to a national unity government. But the demand for internal accommodation seemed likely to prove to be an impossibly high bar to jump, even under the dire circumstances now unfolding in Iraq. Not only did it seem unlikely that Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al Maliki would make concessions he’s rejected since before U.S. troops departed at the end of 2011, but it was unclear who would be his partners.

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  • For tea party, Republican whip race is best shot at House leadership role

    By Robert Costa, The Washington Post

    The last best hope for the tea party to win a House leadership post after the stunning primary defeat of Majority Leader Eric Cantor (Va.) is the race for majority whip, the House’s third-ranking position. But as House Republicans return to Washington on Monday, that contest risks becoming another lost opportunity for the conservatives who have called Cantor’s loss a warning shot to the establishment. Three Republicans — Reps. Steve Scalise (La.), Peter Roskam (Ill.) and Marlin A. Stutzman (Ind.) — spent the weekend campaigning to succeed Rep. Kevin McCarthy (Calif.) as majority whip should he win Thursday’s election to replace Cantor — an election McCarthy has all but clinched in recent days. The trio’s scrambling has brought into focus a roaring debate over how far to the right the House GOP should move in the wake of Cantor’s fall and whether more geographical balance is needed in the leadership.

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  • 2016 Chances May Be Hurt by GOP's Midterm Strength

    By Charles Babington and Nicholas Riccardi, Associated Press

    Republican strength in this year's House and Senate races could, strangely enough, hurt the party's presidential chances by stalling the changes in style and policy advocated after Mitt Romney's defeat in the 2012 presidential campaign. GOP officials and strategists say it's hard to persuade party leaders to adjust the political recipe when they feel increasingly upbeat about adding Senate control to their solid House majority this fall. This optimism, numerous GOP strategists say, makes looking past the party's loss of the popular vote in five of the last six presidential elections easy.

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