Former Los Angeles police officer Christopher Jordan Dorner.
Former Los Angeles police officer Christopher Jordan Dorner. (Irvine Police Department/Orange County Register)

National editor's pick of the top news stories in the nation and world at this hour:

Ex-cop suspected in anti-police rampage; 3 dead, 2 wounded

A massive manhunt was under way in Southern California after a former LAPD officer killed a couple in Irvine, wounded one officer in a shootout in Chino, and killed one officer and severely wounded another in an ambush in Riverside, police said. Christopher Jordan Dorner, 33, claimed responsibility for the rampage in a manifesto in which he said he was fired for exposing police brutality and racism on the force. Of the "horrendous murders" of which he was suspected, he wrote, "Unfortunately, this is a necessary evil that I do not enjoy but must partake and complete for substantial change to occur within the LAPD and reclaim my name." On Sunday in Irvine, Los Angeles Police Chief Charlie Beck said, Dorner shot and killed Monica Quan -- the daughter of a retired police captain who once represented Dorner in a grievance -- and her fiance, Keith Lawrence, as they sat in a vehicle. On Wednesday in San Diego, Dorner tried unsuccessfully to steal a boat, Beck said. At 1:25 Thursday morning in Chino, officers on a protection detail exchanged fire with Dorner, leaving one of them grazed in the head with a survivable injury, he said.

Outgoing Defense Secretary Leon Panetta testifies Thursday before the Senate Armed Services Committee.
Outgoing Defense Secretary Leon Panetta testifies Thursday before the Senate Armed Services Committee. (J. Scott Applewhite/AP Photo)
And at 1:45 a.m., in what Beck called a "cowardly ambush" in Riverside, Dorner killed one and severely injured another officer from that city's police force. Adding to the bloodshed, officers on a protection detail in Torrance mistakenly fired on a vehicle matching the description of Dorner's and wounded two people -- who turned out to be newspaper carriers. Police said Dorner, who should be considered armed and extremely dangerous, is African-American, 6 feet tall, 270 pounds, with black hair and brown eyes, and is driving a late-model, four-door, dark gray Nissan Titan pickup. In his manifesto, Dorner named the police officers he intended to hunt down, saying: "I will bring unconventional and asymmetrical warfare to those in LAPD uniform whether on or off duty.
John Brennan, Obama’s national security adviser for homeland security and counterterrorism, needs Senate confirmation to become the next CIA
John Brennan, Obama's national security adviser for homeland security and counterterrorism, needs Senate confirmation to become the next CIA secretary. (Charles Dharapak/AP Photo)
... You will now live the life of the prey."

Panetta harshly questioned on Benghazi response

Iranian supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, pictured in February 2012, says Iran will not engage in direct talks with the U.S.
Iranian supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, pictured in February 2012, says Iran will not engage in direct talks with the U.S. (Associated PRess)

Outgoing Defense Secretary Leon Panetta faced sharp questions from senators who believe the U.S. botched the response to the attack on its consulate in Benghazi, Libya, but he insisted the U.S. military couldn't have gotten there faster. "This was, pure and simple, a problem of distance and time," Panetta said, meaning the positioning of military teams far from Benghazi made it difficult to respond more quickly. "The United States military is not and should not be a global 911 service capable of arriving on the scene within minutes to every possible contingency around the world," Panetta told the Senate Armed Services Committee. But Sen. John McCain scoffed at the claims of Panetta and similar comments by Joint Chiefs chairman Gen.

Lady Gaga, shown performing at the 2010 Grammy Awards, had better mind this year’s memo that "thong type costumes are problematic."
Lady Gaga, shown performing at the 2010 Grammy Awards, had better mind this year's memo that "thong type costumes are problematic." (Matt Sayles/AP Photo)
 Martin Dempsey. "For you to testify that our posture did not allow a rapid response, did not take into account threats to our consulate ... is simply false," McCain told Dempsey. The general stood by his claims, "your dispute of it notwithstanding," saying that because of time and positioning of forces, "we wouldn't have gotten there in time." Panetta and Dempsey also revealed Thursday that they had both supported sending arms to the rebels in Syria -- a position that differed with that of the White House.

CIA nominee Brennan questioned on openness

CIA nominee John Brennan also faced tough questions Thursday at his confirmation hearing about openness with Congress and the public, and he pledged to be forthcoming and to repair a "trust deficit" with lawmakers. He was questioned about leaks of classified information, and he said, "I do not think it is ever appropriate" to leak such information. Asked about the policy on drone strikes -- one he helped craft for the Obama administration -- he said they are not used to punish past behavior but to prevent future attacks. Answering another question, he said, "We need to acknowledge publicly" when an innocent person is accidentally killed. Brennan was questioned hours after the committee was given a top-secret White House memo outlining the rationale for drone strikes targeting al-Qaida operatives overseas. Brennan's hearing was delayed by shouting, sign-waving protesters who had to be removed from the room.

Iran's Ayatollah Khamenei rejects direct talks with U.S.

Iran's supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, on Thursday ruled out direct talks with the United States at a time when Washington is "holding a gun" to Tehran in the form of sanctions. Talks are still scheduled this month between Iran and six other countries, including the U.S., but Khamenei's comments may signal that Iran will insist that sanctions be lightened before any progress is made on Iran's nuclear agenda. Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, who is visiting Cairo, made similar comments Thursday, saying, "Such talks will be meaningless if someone raises a club." In another affront to the U.S., Iran said it had decoded the data from a captured U.S. drone, and on Wednesday night it broadcast video from the drone said to show the city of Kandahar, Afghanistan and a U.S. drone base.

Grammys cracking down on nude, lewd and side boob

Wouldn't it be terrible if there was another celebrity oops at the Grammys to send people scurrying to their computers to see who spilled out of their clothes this time? Seeking to prevent that very thing, CBS sent out a memo described as a "Standard and Practice Wardrobe Advisory," which reads: "CBS Program Practices advises that all talent appearing on camera please adhere to Network policy concerning wardrobe. Please be sure that buttocks and female breasts are adequately covered. Thong type costumes are problematic. Please avoid exposing bare fleshy under curves of the buttocks and buttock crack. Bare sides or under curvature of the breasts is also problematic." Way to keep things classy, Grammys.

The Wire, a summary of top national and world news stories from the Associated Press and other wire services, moves weekdays. Contact Karl Kahler at 408-920-5023; follow him at twitter.com/karl_kahler.