Today's Papers

Kenya Catch Them?

The Washington Post, USA Today, and the New York Times lead with the investigation into the African bombings. The Los Angeles Times comes behind its lead about the passage of the California state budget with the report that some suspects have been arrested in the Tanzania attack, a story included in the other bombing leads. The NYT and LAT quote a U.S. official lowering expectations about the arrests, as does the WP, which goes on to identify the arrested men as Iraqis of Sudanese extraction.

USAT says a Kenyan guard confirmed to a local paper–what was first reported in yesterday’s WP–that there was a brief battle at the embassy’s back gate that killed several guards before the bomb went off. Apparently, the guards’ resistance kept the bomb vehicle–now described by the papers as a small pickup truck–from gaining access to the embassy’s underground garage, where it probably would have caused even more death. The LAT interviews another witness to the attack who says the man who jumped from the bomb truck was dressed in the uniform of an embassy security guard. This observation that a man jumped indicates a point not made expressly in any of the coverage, namely that this was not a suicide bomber.

The LAT also describes international tension at the Kenyan bomb site: the Kenyans are angered by the slow pace of the body recoveries and the Israeli rescuers are miffed at being watched closely by U.S. officials, who, the paper says, are seemingly worried that their allies might use the occasion to sift through classified materials.

The papers say that rescuers continue on the trail of faint noises in the hopes of finding survivors–USAT dedicates its news section cover story to the ongoing hunt for “Rosie,” the last unaccounted-for person contacted alive inside the rubble. And the Post notes a special problem in identifying the forty-some unknowns still in Nairobi morgues–few Kenyans have dental records because few can afford to go to the dentist.

Meanwhile, investigators have begun sifting for bomb parts. The NYT says they currently suspect plastic explosives, perhaps from a lot sold to Libya by Czechoslovakia in the 1970s or 80s. The papers also report (USAT reported it yesterday) that the U.S. has announced a $2 million reward in the case. The NYT says that in the 1990s, the U.S. has paid out more than $5 million for anti-terrorist information.

The WP reports that at the Nairobi airport as Marines escorted American bodies onto a transport plane, the U.S. ambassador to Kenya, Prudence Bushnell, herself injured in the attack, stood by with “a bandaged hand over her heart and tears glistening on cheeks cut by flying glass.”

The NYT off-lead is a disturber that also gets front coverage at the LAT and an inside mention at the WP: in Chicago, two boys, one age 7 and one age 8, have been charged with murdering an 11-year-old girl, apparently to steal her bike. They also sexually molested her. The paper says the boys have confessed to the July 27 killing. The Times says experts think these are the youngest murder defendants in U.S. history. According to their confessions, the older boy afterwards rode his bicycle home and watched cartoons, and the younger boy went home to play with his puppy. One glaring lacuna in the coverage: the accused killers’ parents. They are hardly mentioned although they have obviously done a horrible job.

A Wall Street Journal front-page feature says that the Kenneth Starr report to Congress will likely conclude that President Clinton had a sexual relationship with Monica Lewinsky, wasn’t candid about it under oath, and at least tacitly encouraged others to give false testimony about it. And, says the Journal, Starr will conclude therefore that Congress has no choice but to debate Clinton’s fitness to remain in office. But in a letter to the editor, a WP reader makes a worthwhile alternate suggestion : Congress should pass a joint resolution of censure of the president’s conduct. This would get Clinton’s questionable behavior on the record while sparing the nation the immense distraction of impeachment proceedings.