The leads at the New York Times, Washington Post, and the top story in the Wall Street Journal’s worldwide news box report the latest cases of anthrax: spores found at a White House postal facility miles away from the residence itself and a new case of inhalation anthrax found in a New Jersey postal worker. The Los Angeles Timeslead, also covered by the other papers, is Attorney General Ashcroft’s statement yesterday that the FBI is searching for three al-Qaida operatives who belonged to the same terrorist cell in Germany as three of the hijackers and are believed to have had important roles in the Sept. 11 attacks. The lead at USA Today says that investigators are testing the chemicals the mailed anthrax spores were packaged in to figure out if they match biological weapons stocks from Iraq, the former Soviet Union, or other nations. Even if these chemicals, which allow the anthrax to aerosolize, are matched to a nation’s anthrax program, it wouldn’t necessarily mean the anthrax was state-sponsored: Anthrax enhanced with these chemicals could possibly be obtained with help from a rogue scientist.
There is no sign of anthrax at the presidential mansion, the papers report, and no letter has been found that could be responsible for the anthrax at the White House mail facility. Though White House mail does go through the Brentwood postal facility, where cases of inhalation anthrax in postal workers have been discovered, officials aren’t clear on whether an anthrax-filled letter at Brentwood contaminated mail sent to the White House facility. President Bush told reporters that he did not have anthrax but would not say if he’d been tested. Investigators also confirmed that the two postal workers from Washington, D.C., who died recently were indeed killed by anthrax. Yesterday many U.S. officials, including House Minority Leader Richard Gephardt and White House spokesman Ari Fleischer, said they believe al-Qaida may have something to do with the anthrax mailings.
The LAT lead says that two of the men from the German terrorist cell, one of whom has been linked to the attack on the U.S.S. Cole, tried to enter the U.S. apparently to join the hijacking teams before Sept. 11 but were not allowed in. The men are thought to have left Germany in the days before Sept. 11, and their whereabouts are unknown.
The papers report the Pentagon’s admission that U.S. missiles missed their targets and landed in an area near a senior citizens home in Herat and in a residential neighborhood near Kabul over the weekend. Malfunctions in the bombs’ guidance systems were to blame for the accidents that may have killed civilians. The senior citizens home could be the same facility that the U.N. has identified as a military hospital. The U.S. does not bomb military targets in cities if such attacks might result in civilian casualties, a Pentagon official said.
The Taliban may be taking advantage of that policy, according to the WP front. Accounts from fleeing Afghans reveal that the Taliban are hiding their troops and military equipment in civilian buildings such as mosques, schools, and people’s homes in Kabul. The refugees say the Taliban have been treating people very poorly since the U.S. air strikes began. It’s gotten to the point that, according to one refugee, the Afghan people would welcome “anyone who comes to Kabul to take power–American, British, Russians, anyone.” USAT also reports that Taliban forces are hiding out in civilian areas, sourcing the information to a senior U.S. military official.
The NYT fronts news that senior Pentagon officials have stated for the first time that an object of the bombing campaign in Afghanistan is to eliminate Taliban stores of fuel, food, and other supplies. In other military developments, reported in the Times piece and other papers, Pentagon officials confirmed what was first reported yesterday: that two U.S. helicopters came under small-arms fire from an unknown source within Pakistan while on a mission to recover the helicopter that crashed recently while supporting U.S. special operations forces.
The papers relay the outcome of negotiations between Bayer, the maker of Cipro, and the U.S. government over supplementing the government’s stockpile of the antibiotic so that it has enough to treat 12 million anthrax infections. Bayer agreed to sell Cipro to the U.S. for under a dollar a pill, down from $1.83, after the secretary of Health and Human Services threatened to buy the generic version of the drug if the company didn’t agree to the price he wanted.
According to the NYT, the secretary of Health and Human Services revealed yesterday what sort of terrorist attacks worry him most: meddling with the food supply. Though the secretary didn’t say why he is concerned about the food supply, he did ask Congress to allow for the hiring of hundreds more food inspectors. The paper reports that fresh produce is especially vulnerable to attack, and germs that are effective attack agents in such cases include E. coli, salmonella typhi, dysenteria, cyclospora, and hepatitis A.
The Irish Republican Army is honoring the recent request made by Sinn Fein, its political arm, to disarm, announce the papers. The IRA said it’s giving up some of its weaponry to preserve the Northern Ireland peace agreement.
No such good news for the peace process over in the Middle East, report the papers, after Israel refused President Bush’s request that it withdraw its troops from Palestinian-controlled portions of the West Bank. Bush told Israel that recent strife between Israel and the Palestinians is making maintaining the anti-terror coalition even trickier. Israel’s foreign minister announced he’d like to help out the American president with his request, but that wouldn’t be possible until the Palestinian leadership arrested the men responsible for the recent killing of the Israeli tourism minister.