The Night Beat: Clues From the VIN; Tuesday Primaries; Cantor's Critique

CBS News reports that investigators consider a Pakistani-American to be a "person of interest" in the Times Square incident. He was traced via forensics; his name is known to terrorism investigators.

Here is an unclassified document prepared by the Department of Homeland Security about the investigation: TIMES SQUARE 1MAY2010_final.pdf ... They've distributed it to DHS fusion centers across the country. ... Note the point about the Vehicle Identification Number. Someone, at some point, removed it from the dashboard of the vehicle. Remember: investigators were able to identify suspects from the first World Trade Center bombing when they found the dashboard VIN from a Ryder truck used in the bombing. This suggests two things: one, that the suspect may have studied the first WTC bombing, and two, the suspect aren't aware that the VIN can be found on at least a dozen other parts of the car.

The FBI and NYPD are acting like the FBI and NYPD in figuring out who gets to do what, when and where. The Washington Post triple bylined a story suggesting that investigators were focusing on foreign links, but other news organizations, including CBS and NBC, were more cautious, reporting that the suspect's telephone calls overseas may be nothing more than just that. NB: the possibility of any linkage to foreign terrorist cells moves jurisdiction of the case into federal hands. ...

Sens. Sherrod Brown and Ted Kaufman and other senators plan to hit the Senate floor in the 10 a.m. hour to present their amendment re: ending too big to fail "the right way."

Tweet from Wall Street Journal's Jonathan Weisman: "John Boehner said Gulf oil disaster proves need for GOP's all of the above strategy on energy. I'm not sure I follow, but there ya go."

Minority Whip Eric Cantor delivers a well-advertised speech on national security at Heritage Tuesday. Here are the main paragraphs:

America faces the twin threats of nuclear proliferation and terrorism. Warning signs abound, whether they be the failed attacks in an airplane on Christmas Day or in a parked car in Times Square.  The goal in both instances was to take many innocent lives.  Yet with each close encounter, my fear is that the country goes on heightened alert only so long as the media covers it.   All too often that means hours and days rather than permanently.  Equally concerning is that the administration and other elected officials tend to give these warnings due attention only in limited spurts. Many of the same critics who groused about how we failed to connect the dots prior to 9-11 are today repeating the same pattern.   As a result, America is at risk of slipping into the type of false sense of security which prevailed before that September morning.

For our allies around the world, it's decision time.   Can they rely on America to keep them safe? Or should they develop their own nuclear weapons, or start to cozy up to Iran, China and Russia out of fear they will be attacked?   So we have arrived at a critical crossroads, with America's long-term security interests hanging in the balance.   My message to you today is this: Now should be the time for America to rededicate itself to the strategy of:  ONE) peace through strength, and TWO) recommitting ourselves to standing up for democratic and peaceful allies.

The White House will announce the winner of its Race To The Top high school commencement challenge at 11:00 a.m. ET Tuesday.

Watch for a more aggressive DCCC/White House effort to promote the notion that only Ed Case would be competitive against Republican Charles Djou in November's HI 01 election.  Democrats are circulating a poll by Ted Harstad  in an effort to less gently nudge State Senate President Colleen Hanabusa out of the race. The time for politeness is over, apparently. In any event, if Democrats lose the special election, they'll most likely regain the seat in November.

Primaries tomorrow. Republicans are hopeful that Senate candidate Dan Coats wins by a significant margin in Indiana. ... Democrats are OK with Coats because he's already been tagged and tainted, they believe.

In Ohio, Democrats know that Lee Fisher will win the Senate primary comfortably; he begins the general election with a poll showing him up four on Republican candidate Rob Portman. (Portman tomorrow gets a new press chief: Jeff Sadosky, vice KBH's office.)

In North Carolina, Democrats hope that one of the three candidates (but really only Sec/state Elaine Marshall and Iraq vet Cal Cunningham) gets above 40% to avoid a June 22 run-off. Polls show Republican incumbent Richard Burr ahead of any Democrat by a half of a dozen points, but his approval ratings are worrisomely low for Republicans.

There are several competitive House primaries as well -- looking specifically at the GOPers battling Dan Burton in Indiana and the Democratic upstart who is challenging Larry Kissell in  North Carolina. ... The AP's Sidoti summarizes the night as one where the establishment is facing challenges from upstarts.
 
Key factoid in the NYT/CBS poll: Obama's net approval rating among independents is +9, the highest is a while. And independents are now evenly split as to how they assess his handling of the economy.

There may be no smarter way to start your day: Ezra Klein's Wonkbook, published at 7:10 a.m., is pretty amazing. Signing up for the e-mail is arduous and confusing. But it's worth it.

Presented by

Marc Ambinder is an Atlantic contributing editor. He is also a senior contributor at Defense One, a contributing editor at GQ, and a regular contributor at The Week.

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