A veteran of the US Mission to Turkey gives us context on today's attack. "Every freaking month for the last decade: Mission Turkey has screamed for a new Embassy compound in Ankara, because the one we have is cramped, unsecure, and in poor physical condition (water/sewage system stopped working completely for three days in 2010 or 2011). Our DC paymasters have patted us on the head and said "That's nice, wait for the money to come in next year's budget." When news accounts call Embassy Ankara "one of the most fortified compounds in the city," don't believe them. That's completely untrue."
Full report after the jump ...
Kerry says Obama offered him the job at State a week before Susan Rice withdrew her name from consideration.
Geraldo says he's really considering jumping into the New Jersey Senate race. Watch.
From TPM Reader JO ...
Your discussion of gun and non-gun people, and Walter Kirn's piece, have made me ponder and connect two things that have been in the back of my mind for a long time: First, there are computer and non-computer people. Second, a case can be made that computers are weapons, and I wonder why I haven't read anything ever that follows from this point of view.
I think I'd like to go back to writing more.
From TPM Reader NS ...
I read Evan's report on the declining fortunes of the NRA's maximalist strategy of absolute refusals with great interest. I think the report is accurate but I would suggest it might be incomplete in the sense that it focuses on Sandy Hook alone.
The marathon Hagel confirmation hearing is finally over, nine long and occasionally excruciating hours after it began. It ended just like it started, with a barrage of harsh Republican criticism of Hagel's positions on Israel and Iran and some fairly half-hearted Democratic attempts to defend him. Bottom line: Hagel didn't say anything that will doom his own nomination, but also didn't say anything that will guarantee he gets confirmed.
I covered the Gates and Panetta confirmation hearings, and the differences with the Hagel session were striking. Gates scored points with his mastery of small details and blunt candor - asked if the U.S. was winning in Iraq, he memorably said "no, sir" -- and Panetta scored points with a confident tone and a disarming sense of humor. They both seemed like the smartest men in the room, and senators from both parties deferred to them accordingly.
4:00 -- I understand how politically popular Israel is on Capitol Hill, but its still somewhat amazing just how completely questions about Israel have dominated the Hagel confirmation hearings. Utah Republican Mike Lee used his entire allotted time to press Hagel to explain past statements that appeared to draw a moral equivalency between Israeli military activity and Palestinian terrorism. Ted Cruz had recordings of some of Hagel's comments on C-SPAN's "Washington Journal" played in the hearing room to raise pretty much the same critique. Some Democrats have concerns about Hagel's views on Israel as well, but its pretty much the only thing Republicans want to talk about. The question is whether GOP senators are using Israel solely to score political points against a nominee who seems virtually certain to be confirmed or whether - as seems highly, highly unlikely - they seriously believe they can use the Israel issue to kill Hagel's nomination.
It's surprising to me that Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX) wasn't born in the same year Sen. Joe McCarthy died. Can reincarnation still work that way?
1:40 -- Hagel's now-infamous line about the "Jewish lobby" is continuing to cause him grief. Senator after senator has bashed him for using those two words, and Hagel has repeatedly tried to defuse the criticism by acknowledging that he misspoke and shouldn't have used the phrase. Lindsey Graham, one of the best questioners on the panel, just used a different part of the quote to bash Hagel. Hagel's full comment in 2006 was that "the Jewish lobby intimidates a lot of people up here... I have always argued against some of the dumb things they do because I don't think it's in the interest of Israel." Graham asked Hagel to name a senator who had been intimidated by the pro-Israel lobby or a "dumb thing" that the Senate had done as a result. Hagel admitted that he couldn't. Hagel had obviously been heavily coached about how to talk about the "Jewish lobby" part of the quote. He was clearly unprepared to fight off criticism about the rest of the comment.
12:05 -- Here in Washington, sequestration - the mandatory budget cuts which are scheduled to go into effect March 1st -- is a really big deal. There is little question that it will hammer an already-fragile economic recovery. Government contractors, particularly defense companies, are preemptively laying off workers, and the Pentagon and other government departments have told their civilian employees that they'll have to take unpaid furloughs if it isn't averted. Panetta and Dempsey have warned that the cuts would devastate the Pentagon and seriously threaten American national security. Obama and an array of Republican leaders say they want to find a way of getting rid of it. But no senator from either party has really asked Hagel about it.