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 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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Jun 13, 2014

  • Obama says ‘all options on table’ to aid Iraq, but others say that’s not really true

    By Nancy Youssef and Anita Kumar, McClatchy

    Despite some expressions of concern in Congress and a pledge from President Barack Obama that “all options are on the table” for ways to help Iraq’s government beat back a determined advance by Islamist fighters, there were few signs Thursday that Washington was eager to re-engage its military in Iraq. Pentagon officials said there was no change in the scheduled September delivery of six F-16 fighters to the government of Prime Minister Nouri al Maliki, no revisions to training plans for Iraqi special forces in Jordan later this month, and no alteration in the summer timetable for leasing Apache attack helicopters to Iraq for training purposes. White House spokesman Jay Carney ruled out sending ground troops as one of the options Obama referred to when he said he didn’t “rule out anything” in considering what the U.S. might do for Iraq.

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  • Tough decisions loom for Iraq War critic Obama

    By John Harwood, CNBC

    President Barack Obama faces mounting pressure to increase U.S. assistance to Iraq, including with military force, as militant rebels capture more territory and threaten the government in Baghdad. At a meeting with Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott, Obama said: "I'm not ruling out anything" to prevent jihadists from destabilizing Iraq and the Middle East more broadly. He added that the U.S. retains the right to strike militarily, unilaterally if necessary, if its national security interests are threatened.

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  • Obama’s Odds With Congress: Bad to Worse

    By Peter Baker, The New York Times

    One day in April, President Obama called Representative Eric Cantor, the House majority leader, to wish him a happy Passover. However the call started, it went downhill from there. By day’s end, both sides were arguing about what was said and taking shots at the other for not getting along. The relationship was in fact prickly from the start. Mr. Obama considered the Republican leader a partisan obstructionist and his main bête noire in the House, while Mr. Cantor viewed the president as an aloof liberal intent on shoving his agenda down the throat of Congress.

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