Backing Off Benghazi:

House Oversight Committee Chairman Darrell Issa has agreed to withdraw a subpoena of Thomas Pickering over the Benghazi, Libya, attacks after the retired diplomat agreed to a private, closed door meeting. The panel had wanted Pickering to respond to questions about the independent investigation into the assaults in September that killed four Americans, including U.S. Ambassador Christopher Stevens. Pickering had previously offered to publicly testify before the committee, but Issa wanted a private meeting first to ascertain how the investigation–which was also led by former Joint Chiefs of Staff Chairman Adm. Mike Mullen–was conducted. (Read more)

Her Lips Are Sealed: Lois Lerner, the director of the Internal Revenue Service office that oversees nonprofits, has refused to testify in front of a congressional panel about the agency’s singling out of conservative groups looking to get tax-exempt status. In invoking the Fifth Amendment and asserting her constitutional right to protect herself from self-incrimination, Lerner cited accusations by lawmakers that she had provided false testimony earlier. Although she wouldn’t answer questions from the House Oversight Committee on Wednesday, she did insist that she had done nothing wrong. “I have not broken any laws. I have not violated any IRS rules or regulations, and I have not provided false information to this or any other committee,” she told the members of the panel. (Read more)

Believe It or Not: An Arizona state lawmaker revealed Tuesday that’s he an atheist during an opening prayer he was tasked with delivering for an afternoon legislative session. State Rep. Juan Mendez, a Democrat from Tempe, began by asked his colleagues to look at one another instead of bowing their heads. “I would like to ask that you take a moment to look around the room at all of the men and women here, in this moment, sharing together this extraordinary experience of being alive and of dedicating ourselves to working toward improving the lives of the people in our state,” he said. Mendez’s “prayer” included a quote by astronomer Carl Sagan. After the invocation, he said: “I hope today marks the beginning of a new era in which Arizona’s nonbelievers can feel as welcome and valued here as believers.” (Read more)

Unfair Comparison: In the type of bizarre rant that is typical of Glenn Beck, the caustic conservative commentator compared the U.S. government to “rapists” on his radio program Wednesday, claiming that Americans have been “raped” by recent scandals, including the ones involving the Internal Revenue Service and Benghazi. Beck said he didn’t even know why Congress was bothering to investigate since all it has to do is get the records from the massive spying database in Utah that he claims the federal government has built. “America, it is time we turned the security state against itself,” he said. “Why ask for it? Just go into the system that we paid for and you built for our quote ‘protection.’ You want to find it? Why are you waiting? The more you wait, the more time they have to delete. Go in and get it. You have it. Or is that security system you’ve built for our protection not really for our protection? The American people have just been raped; why are you asking the rapist to hurry up with the swab test? (Read more)

Video of the Day: In new footage put out by Media Matters, the watchdog organization imagines what a sexual harassment training video made by right-wing television personalities would look like. Noting that there was plenty of material to choose from, this is what it came up with:

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