Today's Papers

Non-Trivial Pursuit

The New York Times leads with President Bush’s assertion that the U.S. is “in hot pursuit” of Osama Bin Laden and the Taliban authorities who safeguard him. The other papers also house this quote in front-page stories. The Washington Post lead uncovers new details about the investigation into the terrorist attacks, including a revised estimated cost of the operation. Previous reporting put it at $200,000, but officials now believe it cost $500,000. At least four hijackers were trained at Bin Laden’s camps in Afghanistan, and most of the other hijackers can be linked to him as well. The attack was planned in Hamburg, Germany, starting several years ago and “there seems to be no U.S. mastermind,” one official said. The Post reports the government is also becoming more convinced that a couple more hijackings were planned but doesn’t say why Washington thinks so. However, a piece on the NYT front explains that in the hours after the attacks, German intelligence intercepted a celebratory phone conversation between Bin Laden devotees who discussed “30 people traveling for the operation.” The FBI knew of only 19 hijackers and immediately began searching for 11 more. A development in the investigation reported near the end of the WP lead is the top story at the Los Angeles Times: The British say that an Algerian pilot they have captured was the “lead instructor” overseeing four of the hijackers’ flight training and was “closely involved” with the terrorists who crashed into the Pentagon.

The NYT lead speculates that Bush, who spoke during an appearance with Jordan’s King Abdullah, chose the phrase “in hot pursuit” either to quiet congressional conservatives who may complain that retaliation isn’t happening quickly enough or to indicate that U.S. intelligence and military anti-terrorist operations are making significant progress in what the president called a guerrilla war. The paper says White House documents released yesterday leave “little doubt” that the U.S. intends to bring down the Taliban. The U.S. will not occupy Afghanistan, Bush made clear, but he did not say what sort of governing arrangement the U.S. might support in the country. Included up high in the story is an official denial that U.S. forces are on the ground in Afghanistan. Yesterday, USA Today reported that U.S. commandos have been tracking Bin Laden there for days. The NYT points out that the military officials only said forces are not currently in Afghanistan, which doesn’t mean they haven’t been there recently.

According to the LAT, the Algerian pilot arrested in Britain is only one of three people in the world formally accused of aiding the hijackers (The other two are at large, and German authorities have charged them with providing the hijackers with unspecified assistance.) The British characterized the Algerian as an “enforcer of the operations” for the hijackers, and the U.S. is seeking his extradition.

The U.N. will require its members to cooperate in anti-terror operations, reports the headline of an NYT article. The WP front also describes this plan, but its headline simply says that the U.N. has adopted an anti-terror resolution. All 189 U.N. members agreed to deny terrorists financing, support, and safe havens. The papers disagree on whether the U.N. campaign against terror could include the use of force. The NYT says this resolution invokes the section of the U.N. Charter that allows the Security Council to “take action up to and including force.” The WP reports that “the resolution stopped short of authorizing the use of military force.” The U.S. introduced the resolution just one day before it was adopted. Its quick passage indicates strong support for both an anti-terrorism campaign (NYT) and the U.S. (WP).

The papers report that Pakistan tried–and failed–a second time to convince the Taliban to extradite Bin Laden. This time Pakistan sent a delegation of clerics, many of whom had taught Taliban leaders, instead of government officials.

The LAT reports that U.S. stores of chemical weapons, which terrorists might want to steal or crash planes into, will cost $9 billion dollars more and take years longer to dispose of than previously expected. In 1997, the U.S. committed to an international treaty that requires signatories to dispose of chemical weapons by 2007. In the meantime, the Army has stationed a couple of hundred extra guards around each of eight chemical arms storage facilities in the U.S.