National Briefs: Dems to fill Benghazi role

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WASHINGTON -- House Democrats will participate in the special, Republican-led select committee investigating the deadly 2012 attack in Benghazi, Libya, despite serious concerns within the party that the inquiry is an election-year ploy to energize core GOP voters.

Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi announced on Wednesday that she will appoint the full complement of five Democrats on the 12-member panel, tapping lawmakers who have been deeply involved in previous congressional investigations of the Sept. 11, 2012, assault on the U.S. diplomatic outpost.

Four Americans, including U.S. Ambassador Chris Stevens, died in the attack when militants stormed the mission.

Court pick advances

WASHINGTON -- A former Justice Department official who helped craft the Obama administration's legal rationale for using drones to kill suspected American terrorists abroad won preliminary Senate approval Wednesday to become a federal appeals court judge.

The largely party-line 52-43 vote under a new procedure requiring a simple majority cleared the way for a final confirmation vote today for David Barron, a Harvard Law School professor seeking to join the 1st U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, based in Boston.

2004 kidnapping case

SANTA ANA, Calif. -- A 25-year-old woman who disappeared as a teenager a decade ago was reunited with her family after she went to police and told them her mother's ex-boyfriend drugged and kidnapped her in 2004, forced her to marry him and fathered her child.

Isidro Garcia, 41, of Bell Gardens, Calif., was arrested on suspicion of kidnapping for rape, lewd acts with a minor and false imprisonment, the Santa Ana Police Department said Wednesday.

Police described a decade during which the victim -- abused mentally, physically and sexually by her captor -- was moved at least four times and given multiple fake identities to hide her from family and authorities.

Child-porn crackdown

NEW YORK -- Seemingly respectable members of the mainstream -- a police officer, a paramedic, a rabbi, an airline pilot, an architect, a Boy Scout leader -- were caught using the Internet to collect and trade child pornography, federal officials said Wednesday.

The six were among 70 New York City-area men and one woman charged as the result of a five-week investigation by the Homeland Security Investigations arm of U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement.

Christie's pension proposal

TRENTON, N.J. -- Gov. Chris Christie's decision to cut New Jersey's pension contributions to balance two years of budgets will increase the system's unfunded liability by more than $2 billion, Treasurer Andrew Sidamon-Eristoff said Wednesday.

The pension deficit, now $38 billion, will top $40 billion by fiscal 2016 as the funded ratio drops to 50.8 percent from 53.7 percent, he told lawmakers at a budget hearing.

Also in the nation ...

The Transportation Department proposed Wednesday that airline passengers be provided detailed information on fees for a first checked bag, a second checked bag, advance seat assignments and carry-on bags. ... Nevada officials will drop the vendor responsible for building the state's health insurance exchange and move to join the federal exchange after a bumpy rollout frustrated thousands of residents seeking coverage.

-- Compiled from news services


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