US State Department reveals new details of Benghazi attack that killed ambassador; China's decision to pull out of IMF meeting "regrettable", says Japan; Julia Gillard accuses Tony Abbott of hypocrisy and misogyny; Netanyahu calls for early election in Israel; Russia to sell $4.2 billion of arms to Iraq this year; and more
Top of the Agenda: State Department Reveals New Details of Benghazi Attack
U.S. State Department officials will testify before a congressional panel today on the events in Benghazi that led to the death of U.S. Ambassador Christopher Stevens. Department officials on Tuesday offered their most detailed description yet of the events in the Libyan city last month, backing away from earlier assertions (AP) that the violence was triggered by protests against an anti-Islam video that insulted the prophet Mohammed. Republicans have accused the State Department of ignoring pleas from diplomats in Libya to increase security in the months before the attack in Benghazi.
"If the Benghazi tragedy traces the same journey we made from the rubble in Nairobi, heartfelt pronouncements will be made; the dead will be given due homage and then they will be buried. The press will alight on other stories. A Congressionally mandated accountability review board will determine what happened and what needs to be done to avoid such tragedies in the future. Easy fixes—changes to emergency action plans, minor security upgrades—will be made; expensive and hard ones will not," writes Prudence Bushnell for the New York Times.
"Ambassador Stevens died a hero. Whether or not he took an unnecessary risk, he knew he couldn't do his job while isolating himself from Libyans. The same holds true for American spies. If the contagion in the Middle East continues to spread, the one thing Americans can count on is going blind — and it won't be the fault of U.S. intelligence or anyone in Washington but just another sign of Americans' declining position in the region," writes Robert Baer for TIME.
"The Obama administration may want to wait until after the election to respond, but each day of inaction makes him look weaker to the American public and our allies and enemies abroad. Thursday, the day Vice President Biden debates Paul Ryan, will mark one month since the consulate attack. Obama won't be able to put off a response—or at least an explanation for the delay—for much longer," writes Alana Goodman for Commentary Magazine.
Japan Reacts to China's IMF Absence
Japan's finance minister said a decision by the Chinese central bank chief and finance minister to pull out of International Monetary Fund meetings (Bloomberg) in Tokyo this week was "regrettable," a statement that comes as the two countries continue to feud over the Diaoyu/Senkaku Islands.
AUSTRALIA: Australian Prime Minister Julia Gillard accused opposition leader Tony Abbott of hypocrisy and misogyny in a scathing speech (AFP) after Abbott called for the removal of parliamentary speaker Peter Slipper.