The Obama administration has launched the first steps toward military action against potential suspects in the deadly attack on the U.S. consulate in Benghazi, Libya, last month. The New York Times reports the Joint Special Operations Command is preparing “target packages” that could be used to kill or capture militants deemed to have been involved in the violence that killed four Americans, including Ambassador Christopher Stevens. The options under discussion include drone strikes, special operations raids and joint missions with Libyan forces.
The news comes as Republican lawmakers are claiming the State Department rebuffed pleas from U.S. officials in Libya for more security at the Benghazi consulate before the attack. On Tuesday, Republicans on the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee said they have set a hearing for next week to investigate. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton says she plans to cooperate with the probe.
A Pennsylvania judge has struck down the state’s election law requiring voters to show photo identification. Pennsylvania’s law allowed voting only to those who could produce a state driver’s license, government employee ID or a state non-driver ID card. But on Tuesday, Commonwealth Court Judge Robert Simpson ruled the state does not have enough time to adequately provide ID to all those who need it in time for the November 6 election. The law was among the strictest to pass as part of a nationwide effort critics say is aimed at disenfranchising lower-income residents and people of color, who tend to vote Democratic. After its passage earlier this year, Pennsylvania’s Republican House Majority Leader Mike Turzai had predicted the law would help Romney win the state. Although the law won’t take effect now, Tuesday’s ruling does pave the way for its use in future elections.
Mississippi announced on Tuesday it will not enforce its law requiring photo identification at the polls. The law was put on hold after the Justice Department demanded proof the measure would not violate the Voting Rights Act.
Early voting has begun in the battleground state of Ohio, with some voters camping out overnight in order to cast their ballots. Ohio is the seventh state to begin early voting, along with Idaho, South Dakota, Vermont, Wyoming, Iowa and Nebraska.
President Obama and Republican candidate Mitt Romney face off in Denver tonight for the first debate of the presidential campaign. On Tuesday, Vice President Joe Biden drew ridicule from Republicans after saying the middle class has been “buried” the last four years. Although Biden was referring to the effects of the financial crisis that began under the Bush administration, Republican rival Paul Ryan seized on the remarks as an admission of failure.
Vice President Joe Biden: “This is deadly earnest, man. This is deadly earnest. How they can justify — how they can justify raising taxes on the middle class that’s been buried for the last four years? How in Lord’s name can they justify raising their taxes with these tax cuts?”
Rep. Paul Ryan: “Vice President Biden just today said that the middle class over the last four years has been, quote, 'buried.' We agree. That means we need to stop digging by electing Mitt Romney the next president of the United States.”
New video has surfaced of Paul Ryan making a class-based assessment of the American population similar to Mitt Romney’s infamous “47 percent” comments that emerged last month. In a speech delivered last November, Ryan said 30 percent of Americans want to live off of the government.
Rep. Paul Ryan: “Today, 70 percent of Americans get more benefits from the federal government in dollar value than they pay back in taxes. So you could argue that we’re already past that [moral] tipping point. The good news is, survey after survey, poll after poll, still shows that we are a center-right 70-30 country. Seventy percent of Americans want the American dream. They believe in the American idea. Only 30 percent want their welfare state. What that tells us is, at least half of those people who are currently in that category are there not of their wish or their will.”
New video has surfaced of embattled Missouri congressmember and Republican Senate candidate Todd Akin calling abortion doctors “terrorists” and accusing them of providing abortions to women who are not pregnant. Akin made the comments in a 2008 speech.
Rep. Todd Akin: “It is no big surprise that we fight the terrorists, because they are fundamentally un-American. And yet we have terrorists in our own culture called abortionists. Who wants to be at the very bottom of the food chain of the medical profession? And what sort of places do these bottom-of-the-food-chain doctors work in? Places that are really a pit. You find that along with the culture of death go all kinds of other law breaking: the not following good sanitary procedure, giving abortions to women who are not actually pregnant, cheating on taxes, all these kinds of things, the misuse of anesthetics so that people die or almost die.”
Akin is currently in a tight race with Democratic incumbent Senator Claire McCaskill. He sparked national outrage in August when he claimed that women have the ability to suppress conception in cases of what he called “legitimate rape.”
An appeals court has overturned a federal judge’s recent decision to block a controversial statute that gave the government the power to carry out indefinite detention. Last month, Judge Katherine Forrest struck down a provision in the National Defense Authorization Act, or NDAA, authorizing the imprisonment of anyone deemed a terrorism suspect anywhere in the world without charge or trial. A group of journalists, scholars and political activists had brought the case, arguing the provision was so broad it could easily infringe on freedom of speech. But on Tuesday, a three-judge panel overruled the decision, granting the Obama administration a temporary stay.
At least 25 people have been killed and more than 70 wounded in a series of bombings in the Syrian city of Aleppo. The attack reportedly struck at a public square near a site for Syrian military officers. Opposition activists claim most the victims were Syrian military.
In Bahrain, clashes erupted on Tuesday at the funeral of a protester jailed during last year’s pro-democracy uprising. The victim suffered sickle cell disease, and fellow demonstrators say he died after being denied medical care. The unrest broke out after police stopped a crowd of thousands of mourners from marching to the Pearl Roundabout, the center of the uprising.
A U.S. Border Patrol agent has been shot dead and another wounded near Arizona’s border with Mexico. The agents were on patrol in a drug smuggling corridor when they came under fire.
A new government report has found an intelligence program that formed a major part of domestic counterterrorism efforts in the United States has been almost entirely useless. A bipartisan report released by a Senate subcommittee examines the network of so-called “fusion centers” created after the 9/11 attacks to promote intelligence sharing among local, state and federal authorities. Investigators have accused the centers of becoming bastions of waste that collected practically no useful information and potentially violated people’s civil liberties. According to the report, the centers “often produced irrelevant, useless or inappropriate intelligence … and many produced no intelligence reporting whatsoever.” As much as $1.4 billion in taxpayer funds designated for the centers has gone unaccounted for by federal officials, the report found.