National Briefs: Kerry to testify on Benghazi

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WASHINGTON -- Secretary of State John Kerry agreed Friday to testify before the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform next month over the 2012 attacks on the U.S. diplomatic mission in Benghazi, Libya, possibly exacerbating tensions between Republicans over competing inquiries.

In a letter to Rep. Darrell Issa, R-Calif., the committee's combative chairman, the State Department's assistant secretary for legislative affairs, Julia Frifield, appeared to go out of her way to pit Mr. Issa's investigation into the attacks against a new one being conducted by a select committee appointed by Speaker John A. Boehner, R-Ohio.

Ms. Frifield said that Mr. Kerry would testify in June, but that in complying with Mr. Issa's demands, "we believe this would remove any need for the secretary to appear before the select committee" on the Benghazi attacks, which killed four Americans, including J. Christopher Stevens, the ambassador to Libya.

Conyers allowed on ballot

DETROIT -- John Conyers Jr., a member of the U.S. House of Representatives since Lyndon Johnson was president, will have his name on the ballot for an Aug. 5 Democratic primary, a federal judge ruled.

The decision in Detroit federal court Friday came hours after Michigan's secretary of state declined to put Mr. Conyers on the ballot because he provided fewer than half the required valid signatures on his nominating petitions.

Hundreds of signatures were acquired by workers who weren't registered to vote, a violation of Michigan law, Secretary of State Ruth Johnson, a Republican, said Friday.

U.S. District Judge Matthew Leitman ruled that Mr. Conyers, 85, should be on the ballot because he is likely to win his challenge of the state officials' decision. The judge, appointed by President Barack Obama, a Democrat, didn't decide on the merits of Mr. Conyers' case.

Hagel decries sex assaults

ANNAPOLIS, Md. -- Speaking Friday at the U.S. Naval Academy graduation, Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel urged the 1,068 about-to-be commissioned officers to help lead the effort to eliminate sexual harassment and assault from military life.

"We're all accountable," he said. "From new recruits to four-star admirals and generals, from second lieutenants to the Secretary of Defense, we all have to step up and take action when we see something that hurts our people and our values."

Among those in graduating class was the 22-year-old female midshipman who went public with her allegations that she was sexually assaulted by three ex-Navy football players at a 2012 off-campus party. She spent much of the past two years shunned by many of her classmates. And the case she'd been so reluctant to pursue eventually fell apart, with charges dropped against two of the midshipmen and the third acquitted at a March court martial.

Bolivian official sentenced

MIAMI -- Bolivia's anti-corruption chief, former Bolivian National Police Col. Mario Fabricio Ormachea Aliaga, was sentenced Friday to three years in prison.

Earlier, Ormachea was convicted of extorting a rich Bolivian businessman living in Miami Lakes for $30,000 in exchange for making trumped-up charges against him disappear back home.

Ormachea's wealthy target was Humberto Roca, former owner of Aerosur Airlines, who fled Bolivia for the United States in 2011 after he was charged with "illegal enrichment" in his native country.

-- Compiled from news services


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