WASHINGTON

- The U.S. has identified five men who might be responsible for the attack on the diplomatic mission in Benghazi, Libya, last year, and has enough evidence to justify seizing them by military force as suspected terrorists, officials say. But there isn't enough proof to try them in a U.S. civilian court as the Obama administration prefers.

The men remain at large while the FBI gathers evidence. But the investigation has been slowed by the reduced U.S. intelligence presence in the region since the attacks, and by the limited ability to assist by Libya's post-revolutionary law enforcement and intelligence agencies, which are still in their infancy.

The decision not to seize the men militarily underscores the White House aim to move away from hunting terrorists as enemy combatants and holding them at the military prison in Guantanamo Bay.

The preference is toward a process in which most are apprehended and tried by the countries where they are living or arrested and tried in the U.S. justice system.

Iranian election board blocks prez candidates

TEHRAN, Iran - Iran's election overseers removed potential wild-card candidates from the presidential race yesterday, blocking a top aide of outgoing President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad and a former president who revived hopes of reformers.

Their exclusion from the June 14 presidential ballot gives establishment-friendly candidates a clear path to succeed Ahmadinejad, who has lost favor with the ruling clerics after years of power struggles. It also pushes moderate and opposition voices further to the margins as Iran's leadership faces critical challenges such as international sanctions and talks with world powers over Tehran's nuclear program.

The official ballot list, announced on state TV, followed a nearly six-hour delay in which the names were kept under wraps. That raised speculation that authorities allowed some time for appeals by the blackballed candidates and their backers to Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, who has final say in all matters.

Ex-IRS head: I knew of probe in spring '12

WASHINGTON - The former head of the IRS said he first learned in spring 2012 - in the heat of the presidential campaign - that agents had improperly targeted political groups that vehemently opposed President Obama's policies.

But, former Commissioner Douglas Shulman said yesterday, he didn't tell higher-ups in the Treasury Department, and he didn't tell members of Congress.

And he wouldn't apologize for it.

"I had a partial set of facts, and I knew that the inspector general was going to be looking into it, and I knew that it was being stopped."

Did Pope Francis fight a demon?

VATICAN CITY

- A well-known exorcist insisted yesterday that Pope Francis helped "liberate" a Mexican man possessed by four demons Sunday, despite the Vatican's insistence that no such papal exorcism took place.

At the end of Mass on Sunday, Francis blessed several wheelchair-bound faithful as he always does, including a man possessed by the devil, according to the priest who brought him.

Francis laid his hands on the man's head and recited a prayer. The man heaved deeply a half-dozen times, shook, then slumped in his wheelchair.

- Daily News wire services