Today's Papers

Kofi Break?

The late Sunday movement in the Iraq crisis is everybody’s lead. USA Today says that U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan will arrive in New York today from Baghdad, bringing with him an agreement that may avert a second Gulf War. The Los Angeles Times reports the breakthrough came via a dramatic, three-hour bargaining session between Annan and Saddam Hussein. The Washington Post says Annan will present the document he and Hussein already signed Monday (Baghdad time) to the Security Council in New York on Tuesday. Written details were not available at press time (and USAT notes that U.S. officials aren’t sure that Annan could speak frankly about it to anyone while he remained in Iraq where phone lines are not secure), but the dailies are reporting that Hussein has agreed to open his presidential palaces to U.N. weapons inspectors–the sticking point that has brought the U.S. to the brink of warfare. More than the other papers, the New York Times emphasizes that much seems to remain unresolved for the moment–the number of sites covered may actually be limited, it reports.

According to the coverage, the newly brokered agreement lacks something the Iraqis had previously insisted on–a time limit on inspections of the presidential locations. And in return, the U.N. agrees to provide diplomats from various countries who would accompany the weapons inspectors. Even if the Security Council approves the deal, notes the WP, Washington has reserved the right to bomb Iraq. And White House spokesman Mike McCurry is widely quoted as noncommittal. But, says the Post, Annan is confident that all members of the Council, including the U.S., will accept the deal. One administration concern the Post passes along: that Annan may not have insisted on the right of inspectors to make repeat visits to the presidential palaces.

The NYT emphasizes that the agreement apparently does not address the issue of other presidential properties not on Baghdad’s list of eight. The Times national edition reports that “some diplomats say” that in only a matter of weeks inspectors could run into access problems at other sites. The NYT metro edition is bolder: “The agreement apparently does not address the issue of other presidential properties not among the eight listed by Baghdad.” The USAT front section cover story”>USAT front section cover story is plainer still: “The problem is that over the years, Saddam has also agreed to many things on which he has not followed through.”

USAT goes front-page with the news from Sunday morning chat show appearances made by Monica Lewinsky’s attorney, William Ginsburg, that she “absolutely” stands by her affidavit in which she denied having sex with President Clinton. Only USAT sees this as big news. The other fronts pass, perhaps because, as USAT notes, Ginsburg has said almost as much before.

The Wall Street Journal waited until the day after Desert Storm opened fire to run its profile of Norman Schwarzkopf. Today, it does a little better in running an interesting Thomas Ricks profile of the current Iraqi operation’s top dog, Gen. Anthony Zinni. It seems to “Today’s Papers” that such men should get at least as much advance press attention as second-tier presidential candidates do. (How many column inches, for instance, did the Journal spill on Alan Keyes?) The piece has the good detail that when Zinni headed up peacekeeping efforts in Somalia, he met regularly with local cartoonists, who he discovered, had inordinate influence on the largely illiterate local populace. The piece’s only real false-step: describing the Marine Corps’ ideal officer as a “knuckle-dragging intellectual.” Would the Journal ever call a CEO that?

A front-page NYT piece notes the trend towards Internet-aided prostitution operations. TP doesn’t know the NYT policy regarding the giving of Web addresses in news stories, but notes that in this one, the address for a Chelsea-based sex service clearinghouse called “” is not issued. But what’s the point of withholding this, since a Web search of that handle will quickly turn up a URL?