Today's Papers

Bombs Are Hell

The New York Times, the Washington Post, and the Los Angeles Times all go with across-the-top leads and gruesome photos of wreckage from massive Friday bombings at two U.S. Embassies in Africa. The attacks in Nairobi, Kenya, and Dar es Salaam, Tanzania, occurred less than five minutes apart, though the worst damage was in Kenya. At least 80 people died (including 8 Americans) and over 1700 were injured. Even as the papers went to press, screams were still heard from people trapped under the wreckage.

Who is responsible? This is a front-page question for all papers. African groups are largely discounted; initially at least, experienced terrorists from the Middle East seem more likely candidates. Though the State Department refuses to speculate on the attackers’ identities, the NYT cites a senior U.S. intelligence official as saying that “based on early circumstantial evidence, the investigators were focusing on followers of Osama bin Laden.” Bin Laden is a Saudi multimillionaire who has pledged a holy war against the United States, and who is widely considered responsible for the 1996 attack in Saudi Arabia which killed 19 U.S. airmen. Another possibility is the Egyptian group Islamic Jihad, which earlier this week issued anti-American warnings in the Egyptian newspaper Al-Hayat. Washington has dispatched top-notch investigative teams to the scene, and President Clinton stated, “We will use all the means at our disposal to bring those responsible to justice, no matter what or how long it takes.”

All papers use separate stories to spotlight the security weaknesses at U.S. embassies (only the WP’s story runs inside). The NYT’s accusatory headline says, “Neither Embassy Met Current Security Guidelines.” The WP headline, however, is more realistic– “Embassies Can Never Be Fully Protected.” The LAT writes that since the Beirut and Kuwait bombings, more than $1 billion has been spent to upgrade certain embassies to become “state-of-the-art anti-terrorist fortresses.” Kenya and Tanzania were considered relatively low security risk and thus were not among the upgrade candidates.

The terrorist attacks relegated Monicagate to the bottom of the front at all papers. The latest development is that Kenneth Starr has run afoul of a U.S. District Court judge. Court papers unsealed Friday showed that judge Norma Holloway Johnson ordered a probe of Starr’s office in June over the Lewinsky grand jury leaks. She noted the “serious and repetitive nature” of the leaks, as well as Starr’s demonstrated willingness to feed reporters information. Starr appealed parts of the June ruling, and got a slight break last Monday when the U.S. Court of Appeals ruled that the President’s lawyers could not question prosecutors or subpoena documents in the investigation. Nonetheless, as the WP says, the whole matter represents a “stinging rebuke” for Starr, and the investigation into the grand jury leaks continues.

The NYT runs an inside story on the Internet as a time-suck (never knew that, didya?) Specifically, it’s loading web pages. The story cites a report from NetRatings that “the average home Internet user wastes just over nine minutes per day, or 55 hours per year, waiting for web pages to load.” This otherwise depressing calculation is a persuasive argument for getting TP emailed to your account–it saves you the bother of loading the page.