Today's Papers

Return to Norma-cy

All the papers lead with a federal judge’s rejection of President Clinton’s claim that executive privilege protects two of his aides from testifying to the Starr grand jury about l’affaire Lewinsky. Also prominent at the dailies are large front-page pictures of Nancy Reagan at yesterday’s dedication of the $818 million Ronald Reagan building in Washington–an unlikely tribute, notes the Los Angeles Times, to a president who championed limits on the federal bureaucracy. Indeed, the New York Times front-page picture caption reads, “Of Honors and Overruns.”

The no-privilege decision by Judge Norma Johnson–actually still under seal and leaked to the papers by lawyers involved in the case (who thereby continue to flirt with sanction by Judge Johnson)–is deemed a “stunning legal defeat” for Clinton by the NYT and rated a “major victory” for Ken Starr by USA Today. The Washington Post and the NYT add that Judge Johnson also ruled against Clinton’s invocation of attorney-client privilege to shield his top aides, holding that Clinton could not use government-paid lawyers to aid his defense in a criminal investigation. And the NYT and LAT point out that a White House bid to have some protections extended to conversations between Hillary Clinton and some aides was also turned down. The NYT observes that the ruling dims the chances for the as-yet-unheard White House claim that Secret Service agents are also cloaked in a special privilege.

At one point, USAT quotes lawyer Ted Olson expressing no surprise at the decision, describing him as a “former Reagan” official. But this characterization makes Olson seem a little too detached from the matter at hand, for in fact Olson is a close friend and political supporter of Starr’s.

The NYT front notes the advent of a new weapon available to airplane hijackers, terrorists and assassins–a three-inch pistol posing as a key chain. It costs only $20 and is not detected by some metal detectors or airport X-ray machines. The paper reports that one was seized by airport security in Athens last week, and that others have been confiscated at airports in England and Australia. Interpol says the .32 caliber gun is readily available in southern Europe.

The Wall Street Journal says that U.S.-Iranian relations will be one of the top foreign policy issues of the next few years, and Washington hasn’t really decided what to do about it. As the Journal points out, that’s understandable: on the one hand, although political moderation is on the upswing in Iran, the country is still judged by the State Department to be “the most active sponsor of state terrorism,” but on the other, making nice would enhance U.S. companies’ access to the Caspian Sea oil fields, the world’s most significant untapped petroleum and gas reserves.

Correction: “Today’s Papers” was mistaken yesterday in saying that the NYT broke the story of a black Marine being beaten by skinheads in Moscow. Actually, the story was in Monday’s LAT.

A spat broke out this week between gun-nut Charlton Heston and yentl case Barbra Streisand over the N.R.A. (Streisand produced the just-aired tv-movie about the Long Island Railroad Massacre of a couple years ago and Heston didn’t like it.) Maureen Dowd weighs in today and is refreshingly un-coy about it. Sure, Dowd still has fun quoting Heston’s Mosaic self-description as a passionate defender of the Bill of Rights, “that foundation stone of our republic.” But she also draws a clear, important conclusion: “On the question of gun control, the mirror has only one face. Ms. Streisand is right. It is chillingly easy for crazies and criminals and children to get guns.”