The Los Angeles Times leads with the latest from the Taliban on Osama Bin Laden: The Afghan cabal now says it not only knows where he is but in fact controls his movements. The paper reports that the regime’s ambassador to Pakistan now says the Taliban has been constantly guarding Bin Laden for more than two years. The ambassador says there are no plans to turn the terror suspect over to the U.S. The Wall Street Journal puts the story atop its front-page worldwide news box, and both it and the LAT quote an unnamed U.S. official saying the admission just ties the Taliban more closely to Bin Laden. The New York Times leads with President Bush’s approval of a covert effort to provide aid–including military aid–to a number of anti-Taliban groups as well as millions in food and relief aid inside Afghanistan and to the Afghan refugees who’ve poured into Pakistan. The paper reports that one source of delay on the relief effort is coming up with a way to keep the Taliban from intercepting the shipments. Also, the paper reports, the anti-Taliban forces seem to be coalescing around the former king of Afghanistan. The Washington Post lead (which folds in the Taliban’s new position on its relationship with Bin Laden) emphasizes, as does USA Today’s, Attorney General John Ashcroft’s warning that more terrorism against the U.S. is a “clear and present danger” that may escalate when the U.S. government responds overseas against Bin Laden.
The LAT lead quotes both the Taliban ambassador to Pakistan suggesting that discussions over Bin Laden’s fate are still possible and the Sunday chat show response of presidential chief of staff Andrew Card: “The president has said we’re not negotiating.” And the story contains this quote from the Taliban’s radio address Sunday to the Afghan people: “Americans don’t have the courage to come here.”
Midway through the WP lead, another Card TV comment chills. He says that Bin Laden’s terrorist group and others have “probably found the means” to initiate biological or chemical warfare. When asked if he thought the U.S. could use nuclear weapons in response to such attacks, Card didn’t say no–he said, “We’re going to do everything we can to defend the United States.”
An LAT fronter on the anti-Taliban groups doesn’t say, as the NYT does, that they’ve closed a deal with the U.S., but it does have a bit more detail about what’s on the table: The anti-Taliban Northern Alliance is asking, says the paper, for $50 million a month and is offering its 15,000 local fighters for combined operations with U.S. Special Forces to track Bin Laden and topple the Taliban.
The NYT off-leads resentment and confusion already generated by the Sept. 11 victims compensation fund created by Congress 10 days ago among those not covered, such as relatives of Oklahoma City and African embassy bombing victims and Sept. 11 victims who survived but suffered mental trauma, lost homes, jobs, or businesses.
The NYT reports inside that British Prime Minister Tony Blair said Sunday without going into any detail that he’d seen “incontrovertible evidence” linking Osama Bin Laden to the Sept. 11 attacks, the first European leader to say this.
The WP front reports that because of the increase in general stress created by the terror attacks, there’s been a dramatic rise in problems among chronic pain patients who before Sept. 11 were able to keep their troubles–associated with cancer, bad backs, diabetes, asthma, etc.–in check. The LAT goes inside to report on another post-Sept. 11 upswing, especially among Manhattanites: “terror sex.” The story quotes one man who exemplifies the trend: “‘What’s sick is that on the day that it happened, I watched the towers crumble, and then I’m walking north, really freaked out, but I was noticing more women than I ever do,’ said an unmarried Manhattan record executive in his 30s who contacted several women he was dating casually, all of whom he has had sex with since the attacks. ‘Usually there are girls where you say she’s not my type. Everything was my type all of a sudden.’ “
A NYT story examines the delicate balance book publishers are trying to observe as they respond with products to the terror attacks without seeming too mercenary. The story doesn’t mention that this would seem to be an issue for ahem, newspapers, too. For instance, nothing is said about whether all those full-page “What’s Next” ads from various businesses, trade groups, and tourist boards, etc., have meant the crisis has been a money-maker for the Times. And if they have, does the Times have a problem with that? Should it?