Today's Papers

Big Money, Big Money…No Whammies

The Washington Post, New York Times, and Los Angeles Times lead with the United States’ promise to provide Afghanistan nearly $300 million in the next year. A few Democratic congressmen are calling for a larger financial commitment. The LAT emphasizes that donor countries have pledged $1.5 billion so far. USA Todayleads with word that the Afghan government is telling female government workers that they don’t need to wear burqas anymore. Hamid Karzai, the country’s interim prime minister, said the government should also hire more women. The Wall Street Journaltops its world-wide newsbox with word that Somalia and Yemen may be the next stops on the U.S.’s antiterror campaign. Yemen is already cooperating with the United States, and a State Department official said America is looking forward to “providing all kinds of support” to the country. The United States may send advisors as well as unmanned surveillance planes. In Somalia, the paper says, “small-scale action by U.S. special forces or proxies to gather further intelligence about al-Qaida fugitives is possible soon.” 

Everybody reports that two Marines were killed and five were injured when their helicopter crashed in Afghanistan. Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld said the crash was likely the result of mechanical failure. The helicopter had been on a resupply mission, probably, the papers note, to Special Forces units who are hunting for Mullah Omar and al-Qaida leaders.

The WP fronts word that the “Army’s premiere biowarfare research facility lost track of more than two dozen potentially dangerous biological specimens around 1991, including some containing the microbe that causes anthrax.” The paper also says that around the same time, somebody was conducting “unauthorized anthrax research during weekends and evenings,” and was manipulating recording devices to cover up their tracks. In the 12th graph, the paper credits the Hartford Courant for breaking the story.

The WSJ’s top business story reports that an Arthur Andersen employee confirmed that a top Andersen exec sent out an e-mail reminding employees on the Enron account to abide by the company’s shredding policy. The employee had never received such a reminder before and understood it as a not-very-subtle suggestion to start shredding Enron-related documents. Andersen claims that the e-mail wasn’t meant to jumpstart any shredding and continues to maintain that the documents were destroyed not as a matter of policy but because of a few bad apples.

Everybody goes high with Arthur Andersen CEO Joseph Berardino’s contention that Enron failed because ” the business model failed,” not because of any illegal maneuvers or sneaky accounting. 

The WP stuffs word that Israel’s domestic security service has recommended that Jews be allowed to resume visits to the Temple Mount in Jerusalem. The Mount currently houses the Dome of the Rock, one of Islam’s holiest sites. The Post says that if Israel does reopen the area to Jews, it could “ignite fresh violence.” The paper points out, “It was a visit to the compound on Sept. 28, 2000, by Ariel Sharon, now Israel’s prime minister, that ignited the [current] Palestinian uprising.”

USAT goes above the fold with a photo collage of 50 faces, nearly all of them white. The headline reads: THESE ARE AMERICA’S GOVERNORS. NO BLACKS. NO HISPANICS.

The WSJ summary story on Afghanistan, is stuffed with good nuggets:

1) The paper says, “one night last week” somebody tried to kill Marines guarding the U.S. embassy in Kabul. Saboteurs lured the U.S. soldiers outside by setting off a “small explosive.” When the Marines went out to investigate, they spotted a “large antipersonnel land mine” that been placed along their walking path. (Considering that the botched attack happened last week—the U.K.’s Guardian says Thursday—the papers should ask why the Pentagon seems not to have said anything for a number of days.)

2) U.S. and U.N. officials say they have intelligence indicating that “large amounts of explosives” (WSJ words) are being smuggled into Kabul in preparation for an attack on international forces or aid workers. The officials believe that the attacks are being planned by regional Afghan leaders angry that they haven’t received aid and aren’t being courted by the central government. The paper says the attack that resulted in the death of a U.S. soldier earlier this month was probably perpetrated by a disgruntled warlord.  Meanwhile, Afghanistan, says the Journal, is actually becoming more dangerous. “Overall, the trend in the last week has been very bad,” said one U.N. official. “There have been lots of reports of trouble throughout the country.”   3) According to the paper, U.S. officials are worried that the man who controls a large part of western Afghanistan, Ismail Khan, “seems to be building a large cache of arms with the aid of Iranian officials.” Khan has not been very supportive of the central government in Kabul.

The NYT and LAT both front “what we’ve learned” pieces about the military campaign in Afghanistan. Neither is hugely revelatory: Special Ops rocked, today’s smart bombs are pretty smart, etc. The NYT, which has the longer piece and focuses on the Special Forces, does have some interesting stuff. Among them, the Pentagon apparently wasn’t planning on relying on commandos as spotters for airstrikes—and was preparing to send in larger numbers of troops. But then the brass saw how good the spotters were. The LAT, meanwhile, ends on a bitter note, saying that as impressive as the military campaign was, we still haven’t caught Mullah Omar or Bin Laden—a fact that the paper attributes to the United States’ less-than-perfect human-intelligence abilities.

The WSJ says that Kashmiris—”frustrated with the way both Pakistan and India have used their land to justify military buildups like the latest face-off”—could move to reject both countries and instead support total independence. “It will be a viable country—that is not the problem,” said one independence activist. “The problem is India and Pakistan, who do not allow us to live.”

Yesterday’s NYT Week In Review took a look back at some of the paper’s finer mistakes and subsequent corrections. The boo-boos are culled from the newly released book, Kill Duck Before Serving: Red Faces at The New York Times. The title is based on the following correction:

An article about decorative cooking incorrectly described a presentation of Muscovy duck by Michel Fitoussi, a New York chef. In preparing it, Mr. Fitoussi uses a duck that has been killed.—April 25, 1981

Another enjoyable correction:

A caption in Business Day with an article about the National Bank of Kuwait mistranslated the Arabic script of the bank symbol. It says, “National Bank of Kuwait” (not “There is no god but Allah”).—Sept. 13, 1990