Americans appear to be split over the Obama administration's handling of the aftermath from the Sept. 11, 2012, attack on the U.S. diplomatic post in Benghazi, Libya, that killed Ambassador Chris Stevens and three others, according to a new poll by the Pew Research Center for the People & the Press.
A bill making its way through the Louisiana Legislature would let Cajun citizens celebrate their ancestry by customizing their driver's license, adding the phrase "I'm a Cajun" below their photograph.
It would cost $5 to add the message; the money would go toward "scholarships distributed by the Council for the Development of French in Louisiana, a program promoting French language and culture in the state," reports NOLA.com.
From NPR News, this is ALL THINGS CONSIDERED. I'm Audie Cornish. The Obama administration is playing defense on multiple fronts. One topic, the IRS; officials there have admitted they targeted conservative groups that were applying for tax-exempt status. The other issue is Benghazi. Republicans are once again hammering the White House for editing talking points about last September's deadly attack in Libya.
As we just heard, it's been a rocky few weeks for the Obama administration. And joining us now for some analysis of the politics of the moment is NPR national political correspondent Mara Liasson. Hey there, Mara.
MARA LIASSON, BYLINE: Hi, Audie.
CORNISH: So what's going on here? Is the White House, you know, in the grip of that second term curse?
President Obama expressed outrage Monday over the Internal Revenue Service's admission that it targeted certain conservative groups for extra scrutiny. By the time the president weighed in, members of both parties in Congress had already begun preparing hearings to grill IRS officials on the issue.
The controversy is rooted in a question neither the IRS nor Congress has answered clearly: Exactly what kind of political activity is allowed for tax-exempt groups — particularly those with secret donors?
The disclosure White House emails is the latest twist in the controversy of how the Obama administration handled the attack on the U.S. mission in Benghazi last September. Much of the debate here in Washington is over what happened afterwards and the roles of U.N. Ambassador Susan Rice, then-Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and President Obama.
It's "outrageous and there's no place for it" if the Internal Revenue Service did, as it has admitted, single out some conservative groups for extra scrutiny in recent years, President Obama said Monday morning during a news conference at the White House.
Millions of Americans rely on food stamps to keep from going hungry. They can also use them to buy sugary drinks. Some groups, including the National Center for Public Policy Research, say that's not right. Host Michel Martin discusses this with the Center's Justin Danhof, and University of Illinois Professor Craig Gundersen.
We're switching gears now. If you're like most people out there, at some point, you've probably found yourself pulling extra hours or extra shifts and you might have looked forward to getting a little extra something in your paycheck at the end of the week or month.
"The Internal Revenue Service's scrutiny of conservative groups went beyond those with 'tea party' or 'patriot' in their names — as the agency admitted Friday — to also include ones worried about government spending, debt or taxes, and even ones that lobbied to 'make America a better place to live,' " The Wall Street Journal reports.
And let's turn now to the topic of political intelligence. This is the business of collecting highly detailed information from Congress and the regulatory agencies and then using it to make it money on Wall Street. The Securities and Exchange Commission is now investigating this practice. The probe comes a year after Congress passed legislation that barred lawmakers and staffers from leaking insider information as a violation of their official duties.
Republican lawmakers on Sunday called for a full investigation of the Internal Revenue Service after it was revealed Friday that it had singled out Tea Party and other conservative groups for heightened scrutiny in applications for tax-exempt status.
NPR's congressional correspondent David Welna speaks with host Scott Simon about the flurry of last-minute amendments, most from conservative Republicans, to alter the bipartisan immigration legislation.
The Pentagon says the automatic budget cuts known as sequestration could leave the U.S. with a military that is simply unprepared for the most challenging combat missions. Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel told Congress in April that the military is eating its seed corn.
As if the Obama administration's conservative critics didn't have enough fodder with last year's attacks on a U.S. Consulate that killed four Americans, now comes Friday's startling revelation that Internal Revenue Service workers between 2010 and 2012 singled out groups with "Tea Party" and "Patriots" in their name for extra scrutiny of their applications for tax-exempt status.
Other bipartisan efforts on Capitol Hill may be collapsing around them, but a cadre of Democratic and Republican women serving on the Senate and House Armed Services committees are leveraging their historic clout to respond together to the sexual assault crisis engulfing the U.S. military.
From NPR News, this is ALL THINGS CONSIDERED. I'm Audie Cornish.
ROBERT SIEGEL, HOST:
And I'm Robert Siegel. At congressional hearings this week, three witnesses introduced as State Department whistleblowers criticized the administration's handling of last September's assault on the U.S. mission in Benghazi, Libya. That attack claimed the life of United States Ambassador Chris Stevens and three other Americans.
From NPR News this is ALL THINGS CONSIDERED. I'm Audie Cornish.
ROBERT SIEGEL, HOST:
And I'm Robert Siegel. After more than a year of denials by the IRS, a director at the agency apologized today for its targeting of Tea Party and patriot groups. As NPR's Peter Overby reports, the apology has reignited a political controversy.
This week, the Senate Judiciary Committee began marking up an immigration bill. We used to speak of immigration reform, but in recent years it's become circumspect to say overhaul, which is presumably more neutral. Our Friday political commentators don't seem especially neutral about the issue. E.J. Dionne of the Washington Post and the Brookings Institution, good to see you here.
When the House held its much-anticipated hearing on Benghazi Wednesday, one major figure not at the witness table was Thomas Pickering, the former ambassador and co-chair of the Accountability Review Board that reported on last September's attacks.
Why wasn't he there?
That's somewhat in dispute. California Republican Darrell Issa, chairman of the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee, put the blame squarely on the shoulders of Pickering and report co-author Adm. Mike Mullen.
President Obama has led an administration that so far has avoided a headline-grabbing, signature scandal. But now he's learning how one begins to take shape.
In many ways, the Benghazi story is following the arc of many Washington scandals of the past. It's rarely the initial incident that gets politicians in trouble. Instead, it's the way in which they respond to it.
Rarely a month seems to pass when there isn't some state legislator in New York facing indictment.
The latest, former Democratic state Sen. Shirley Huntley, was sentenced Thursday to spend a year and a day in prison for stealing $88,000 from a charity she controlled. A day earlier, a federal judge had unsealed records showing that Huntley last year secretly recorded conversations with seven other elected officials she suspected of corruption.