Hearing Things:

The House on Wednesday began its GOP-led probe of September’s deadly assault on the U.S. Consulate in Benghazi, Libya, with the testimony of three whistle-blowers who have challenged the Obama administration’s explanation of events in the aftermath of the attack. The trio—Gregory Hicks, the deputy chief of mission in Libya at the time, Mark Thompson, acting deputy assistant secretary for counterterrorism, and Eric Nordstrom, a former regional security officer in Libya—all expressed frustration over the government’s response. At the hearing before the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee, Hicks testified that he was “stunned” and “embarrassed” about the administration’s initial reaction to the attacks, which U.N. Ambassador Susan Rice initially characterized as related to protests over an anti-Islam video that had been posted on YouTube. He added that at no time did he and others suspect the incident was tied to the demonstrations. (Read more)

Cell Out: Big time corporate crook Jeffrey Skilling, the former CEO of Enron, has negotiated an early release from prison with the government. In 2006, Skilling was sentenced to 24 years in prison for his involvement in the Enron scandal, the largest case of corporate fraud ever. Among the things Skilling was convicted of: fraud, conspiracy, lying to auditors and insider trading. But the U.S. government is soft on its corporate criminals, and the deal Skilling struck could allow him to leave prison almost a decade early. “Today’s agreement will put an end to the legal battles surrounding this case,” Justice Department spokesman David Carr said. “This agreement ensures that Mr. Skilling will be appropriately punished for his crimes and that victims will finally receive the restitution they deserve.” (Read more)

School for Scandal: Michele Bachmann is reportedly in talks to settle a lawsuit stemming from her failed 2012 presidential campaign, according to the Minneapolis StarTribune. The suit alleges that senior members of Bachmann’s campaign staff stole an email list of home-school families from an Iowa campaign staffer. The report says Bachmann went to Des Moines on Monday and met with attorneys for the woman who sued the campaign. Bachmann’s camp has denied the theft allegation, claiming the list was obtained and used inadvertently. This is just the latest in a series of headaches linked to Bachmann’s presidential campaign; the congresswoman is also the subject of an ethics probe connected to her White House bid. (Read more)

Adding Insult to Injury: There are many topics on which Donald Trump should just keep silent. Like sexual assaults in the armed forces, for example. On Wednesday, the reality television host responded to a report from the Pentagon that estimated there were 26,000 sexual assaults in the military last year with this offensive and insensitive tweet: “26,000 unreported sexual assults [sic] in the military-only 238 convictions. What did these geniuses expect when they put men & women together?” Is it any wonder “Daily Show” host Jon Stewart recently dubbed Trump “Fuckface Von Clownstick”? (Read more)

Video of the Day: MSNBC host Rachel Maddow has a history of correcting the fact checking website PolitiFact, but this time she leveled some particularly harsh criticism against the organization over its labeling of retired tennis star Martina Navratilova’s statement that 29 states allow an employer to fire a worker for being gay. The website said the statement was true, then went on to rate Navratilova’s claim as a “half truth.” Said Maddow: “The statement you were supposed to be fact checking is true and until someone figures out how to sue you to retrieve the meaning of the word ‘fact’ from the dark and airless hole you have stuffed it into, PolitiFact, then no, it is not OK for you to just make this stuff up. You are truly terrible.”

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