Today’s edition of quick hits:
* Drones: “President Obama pledged Friday that his administration would seek to learn from the mistakes that led to the inadvertent killing by the Central Intelligence Agency of two Western hostages, including an American, in a drone strike against al Qaida earlier this year.”
* A rhetorical escalation on trade: “The already bitter fight between the White House and the progressive base over trade policy has turned ugly after President Obama said his critics on the left ‘don’t know what they’re talking about’ and compared their arguments to conspiracy theories about ‘death panels.’”
* Sometimes, paying hostage takers doesn’t work: “The captors of U.S. aid worker Warren Weinstein received $250,000 in 2012 on what turned out to be a false promise that he would be freed, according to a Pakistani intermediary who negotiated directly with al Qaeda for his release.”
* One hundred years later: “The century-old wounds over the mass slaughter of Armenians in the Ottoman Empire were on full display Friday as Europe took another step toward describing the killings as a genocide and Turkey offered groundbreaking outreach even as it rejected any links to the “sin” of ethnic purges.”
* I think they’re bluffing: “House lawmakers are threatening to slash Defense Department funding by about $500 million next year if Pentagon officials don’t hand over documents related to their probe into a controversial prisoner swap that freed five Taliban detainees in exchange for a captive U.S. soldier.”
* The happiest man in Washington today: “Attorney General Eric Holder bid a final farewell to what he predicts will be recognized in the next half-century as a new ‘Golden Age’ at the Department of Justice, leaving behind a historic six-year tenure as the first African-American man to serve as the nation’s top attorney.”
* All kinds of odd folks filed anti-gay briefs with the Supreme Court in advance of next week’s arguments on marriage equality. Irin Carmon, to her enormous credit, read them all and reported on her findings.
* Arizona: “Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio admitted under oath Thursday that his attorneys hired a private detective to investigate the wife of the federal judge who had ruled that Arpaio’s office engaged in systematic racial profiling. It gets worse: That same judge is currently deciding whether to hold Arpaio in contempt of court for deliberately ignoring a 2011 court order.”
* It’s reached the point at which even Senate Republicans are having a hard time caring about Sen. David Vitter’s (R-La.) preoccupation with ACA benefits on Capitol Hill.
* A striking image: “See Congress polarize over the past 60 years, in one beautiful chart.”
* It’s been a surprisingly rough year for Senate staffers: “A U.S. Senate staffer allegedly dabbled in drug importation, according to law enforcement. Fred W. Pagan, a staffer for U.S. Senator Thad Cochran (R-Miss.) allegedly told law enforcement agents that he imported drugs from China in a plan to exchange them for sexual favors, according to new documents filed in U.S. District Court.”
Anything to add? Consider this an open thread.