Today's Papers

Organ-ized Crime?

The U.S. reaction to the U.N.-brokered Iraq deal is the consensus top story. The papers report that President Clinton gave his tentative OK to it, but also that he will keep the built-up U.S. forces in the Persian Gulf region to make sure Iraq keeps up its end. It’s also noted all around that in his remarks yesterday, Clinton reserved the right to respond in the “manner of our own choosing” to any Iraqi breach of the new accord.

The actual details of the deal are still somewhat unclear, but it has emerged that the U.N. weapons inspectors will be accompanied by diplomats–as yet unidentified– in their tours of the disputed Iraqi presidential sites. The Washington Post reports that some U.S. and U.N. officials said that the proposed arrangement implicitly supports the Iraqi critique of the original inspection set-up. But perhaps more telling, the paper also reports that the president’s senior advisors expressed relief at the last-minute veer away from an air war. And that includes military advisors, one of whom is quoted, “We had a tough time seeing where this was going to take us.”

In a New York Times front-page “news analysis” piece, R.W. Apple states that Clinton didn’t have much choice about the U.N. deal because he was unwilling from the start to contemplate a campaign that would drive Hussein from power, but only one that would make him submit to U.N. authority.

The Times has the most reporting on the domestic political reaction to the deal, stating that some Republicans charge that Clinton has abdicated the making of foreign policy to the U.N., and that the general mood in Congress was caution and skepticism. Trent Lott is quoted as being concerned that the administration had “subcontracted its foreign policy to [the U.N.’s Kofi] Annan.” Surprisingly, Newt Gingrich said he didn’t have those qualms. Democratic Senator John Kerry articulates the central worry: “How do we avoid this ratcheting up on an annual basis?”

The WP front reports that Kenneth Starr has subpoenaed White House adviser Sidney Blumenthal to appear before a grand jury to answer questions about any role he might have had in disseminating negative information about Starr’s staff to reporters. The paper says the subpoena is “particularly broad” and signals “an escalation in the battle between the White House and the independent counsel.” The NYT says Blumenthal was incensed and also that he accuses Starr of leaking his subpoena to the media.

The NYT front reports that an FBI undercover operation in New York, prompted by a tip from celebrated Chinese exiled dissident Harry Wu, has produced the arrest of two men for trying to sell organs from the bodies of executed Chinese prisoners. Allegedly, it was eye corneas at $5,000 a pair, and kidney transplants for $20,000 plus. Also in the offing apparently were pancreases, livers, lungs and skin. The WP runs its organs-for-sale story inside, pointing out that one of the arrested men said that he could guarantee skin from young prisoners and lungs from ones who didn’t smoke. Provided that the “donors” in question are legitimately tried and executed, neither piece, it seems, really makes it clear exactly why this practice is inherently deplorable. After all, the Post notes, the U.S. suffers from an acute shortage of organs for transplant.

The Wall Street Journal “Work Week” column reports that a researcher has found that despite worker assumptions to the contrary, childless employees do not work longer hours than their colleagues raising kids.

Does Mary Bono, Sonny’s widow, believe in good old-fashioned conservative family values? The WP reports that Ms. Bono has left her newly fatherless seven-year-old and nine-year-old in school back in California while she came to Washington to raise money for her campaign to win her late husband’s congressional seat. Does the prospect of even lengthier absences, should she win, daunt her? Well, Bono says, “Congress is in recess often enough where I could be [with the children in Palm Springs] for weeks at a time.”