Today's Papers

Letter-Writing Campaign


The New York Times, USA Today, and the Wall Street Journal world-wide newsbox all lead with reports that the U.S. has begun bombing Taliban front-line positions. The Los Angeles Times leads with comments by Air Force Gen. Richard B. Myers, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff: “This is going to be a very, very long campaign.” The Washington Post leads with (and others front) news that a Washington D.C.-based postal worker has been diagnosed with pulmonary anthrax. According to health officials, the man is “seriously ill” but “stable.” As a precaution, doctors have begun testing 2,000 of the man’s co-workers and are prescribing all of them Cipro. The Post notes that the facility where the man works does sort mail for the Senate, where an anthrax-infected letter was found last week. But officials are perplexed because the ill employee’s work doesn’t involve processing congressional mail.

The NYT says that the front-line bombings may have begun as a result of an “understanding” the U.S. has reached with the Northern Alliance: The rebels can approach and even lay siege to Kabul, but they promise they won’t enter the capital until there is a broad coalition in place to rule Afghanistan. Other papers say there’s no such clear-cut agreement.

The WSJ reports that the Taliban have begun moving their most loyal–and battle-hardened–fighters into positions to oppose U.S. forces (though its unclear where that is, given that U.S. soldiers aren’t holding any ground).

While the LAT focuses on comments by Gen. Myer–who emphasized, “It may take till next spring. It may take till next summer. It may take longer than that in Afghanistan”–the other papers focus on Secretary of State Colin Powell’s remarks that the U.S. would like to end the war as soon as possible: “It would be in our interest and the interest of the coalition to see this matter resolved before winter strikes.” (The Pentagon and Department of State seem to be bickering a lot about the next steps in the war. Today’s Papers would sure appreciate a story on the dispute.)

The LAT says foreign allies are getting a bit antsy about the war, especially over the possibility of a long campaign. Indonesia, for example, has warned the U.S. that if the strikes continue into the Muslim holy month of Ramadan (which begins Nov. 17), the consequences will be “explosive.”

The WSJ reports that Pakistan’s intelligence service, the ISI, has been lobbying players in the conflict to support its proposed solution: Encourage anti-Taliban opposition in southern Afghanistan and promote their presence in a future Afghan coalition with moderate Taliban, Northern Alliance members, and people loyal to the former king. 

The papers report that the economic summit meeting in Shanghai, attended by President Bush and the leaders of 20 Asian countries, ended on a lukewarm note. Members of the summit issued a statement denouncing terrorism but didn’t offer any words supporting the military strikes against the Taliban.

The papers report on Israel’s aggressive military moves in the occupied territories. The NYT says that they are the “biggest military strike in many years against the Palestinians.” During the past four days, says the Times, Israel “has blockaded eight Palestinian cities or towns in the West Bank and invaded six of them.” (Question: Does the word “invaded” mean that the towns are formally controlled by the Palestinian Authority? The Times doesn’t say.)

The papers report on President Bush and Russian President Vladimir Putin’s discussions about the future of the Anti-Ballistic Missile treaty. The leaders continued, as the LAT put it, “their vocal disagreement.” Bush called the treaty “dangerous,” while Putin said it’s an “an important element of stability.” The NYT and USAT, though, both see reasons to be optimistic. Each says the U.S. and Russia are actually inching closer to an agreement on missile defense–essentially, the U.S. gets to build it, so long as both countries significantly reduce their nuclear stockpiles.

The NYT fronts word that several senior senators are calling for a congressional investigation to figure out why Sept. 11 caught intelligence services by surprise. “I absolutely believe that we have to go back and see what happened,” said Sen. John McCain. “Not in order to hang somebody at the yardarm or to disgrace anyone, but so that we will not make the mistakes again.”

The WSJ reports that the Bush administration quietly proposed last week that the White House be given power to appropriate federal funds in the event that the Senate and House “were unable to meet.” Many in Congress haven’t taken kindly to the idea, arguing that it would be, um, unconstitutional. The current spending bills expire Oct. 30. If Congress doesn’t pass new ones in the interim, the government will be forced to shut down.