Opening Act: Most People Are Like, “Whaaat?’

A Yemeni soldier mans a checkpoint in Sanaa on July 21, 2013.

Photo by MOHAMMED HUWAIS/AFP/Getty Images

Darren Samuelsohn has the most important story of the day, a tear through the bureaucracy, standards, and (hopefully) just plain laziness that’s held up the completion of a database for sexual assault claims.

“We know we need a better system,” Kaye Whitley, then the director of the Pentagon’s lead sexual assault office, told a congressional panel during a 2008 House hearing at which both Democratic and GOP lawmakers expressed frustration with the department for its long delays in better tracking sexual assault crimes. In the five years since that hearing, the Defense Department has spent about $13.9 million on the Defense Sexual Assault Incident Database, which Congress says needs to track such basic information as “the nature of the assault, the victim, the offender and the outcome of any legal proceedings in connection with the assault.” But it’s still not ready. The latest estimate for all systems go: Oct. 1.

Hannah Allam talks to terrorism analysts about the days-long embassy closure scare.

“It’s crazy pants – you can quote me,” said Will McCants, a former State Department adviser on government extremism who this month joins the Brookings Saban Center as the director of its project on U.S. relations with the Islamic world.

“We just showed our hand, so now they’re obviously going to change their position on when and where” to attack, said Nada Bakos, a former CIA analyst who was part of the team that hunted Osama bin Laden for years.

“It’s not completely random, but most people are, like, ‘Whaaat?’ ” said Aaron Zelin, who researches militants for the Washington Institute for Near East Policy and blogs about them at Jihadology.net

Ben Terris and Shane Goldmacher go behind the scenes of Allen West’s post-election media and foundation empire.

The operation has expanded recently from West’s basement apartment—which he calls “the bat cave”—to a suite on the eerily empty third floor of an office building only blocks from his old office. The walls are barren because many of them are going to be torn down to build a bigger filming studio. The place has the feel of a start-up. A half-dozen young women mill about. West’s flat-screen TV, tuned to Fox News, sits atop a cardboard box. A Post-it Note stuck to his computer reminds him that his password is “allenwest.” Talking points about Trayvon Martin and a packet of Clearasil wipes sit atop his desk. Oh, and there’s a samurai sword.

After that piece he’ll have to change the password to something more secure, like “12345.”

Bob Filner had a habit of hitting on military sexual assault victims, which is one of the more self-destructive actions I’ve ever heard of.

And one week before the Democratic primary, Cory Booker posts a 37-point lead over the field. That’s just a little down from the 42-point lead he held a month ago, but he’s lucky—non-Booker voters are split between Rep. Rush Holt and Rep. Frank Pallone, who are rising in tandem. In just six days, maybe, we’re done with the sad spectacle of the late Sen. Frank Lautenberg’s family members campaigning against Booker to continue a feud that only they and some local reporters care about.