Today's Papers

The Other Shoe Drops

The Washington Post, the Wall Street Journal’s worldwide newsbox, and USA Todaylead with the indictment of shoe bomber Richard Reid on nine charges, including trying to use a weapon of mass destruction. The indictment claimed he trained in an al-Qaida camp; everybody also notes the government’s confirmation of yesterday’s WSJ report that Reid likely has extensive al-Qaida connections, including flying to Israel and Egypt to scout possible targets. (The NYT leaves the Journal credit to its last graph. [Editor’s note: In fact, the Times credited the Journal story five paragraphs earlier.]) The Los Angeles Timesleads with authorities’ arrest of  four former members of the radical Symbionese Liberation Army for their part in a 1975 bank robbery and murder. Police said new forensic techniques helped them rekindle the case. The New York Timesleads with news that Enron’s auditor, Arthur Andersen, knew in August about a whistle-blower’s charge that Enron was hiding losses. Meanwhile, congressional investigators released an e-mail written in February 2001 that shows that some Andersen executives were so concerned about Enron’s accounting that they considered no longer doing business with the company. 

“It’s clear now to us that key players at both Enron and Andersen knew of the problems months before the company imploded,” said a Republican congressional staffer.

The White House said that in October, President Bush’s top economic advisor oversaw a study of what would happen to the economy should Enron collapse.

The NYT reports that Enron “has not paid income taxes in four of the last five years.” One way it did that, says the paper, is that it had 900 (!) subsidiaries in tax-haven countries. The Times points out that other Fortune 500 companies occasionally finagle their way out of taxes, too.

Attorney General John Ashcroft said the charge connecting al-Qaida to Reid, “alerts us to a clear, unmistakable threat that al-Qaida could attack the United States again. We must be prepared. We must be ready. We must be vigilant.”

Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld responded to speculation that Bin Laden, and perhaps Mullah Omar, have skedaddled to other parts of the world. “We still believe they’re in the country,” Mr. Rumsfeld said.

Really, asked one officer. “We don’t have anything compelling that shows he’s in Afghanistan.”

But Rumsfeld insisted there’s plenty of intel on the possible whereabouts of the two men. “It’s all specific,” he said. “Most of it is wrong, but it’s all specific.”

The WSJ says the deployment of U.S. troops in the Philippines has caused a kerfuffle in that country. As yesterday’s NYT predicted, some Filipino legislators are questioning the constitutionality of the operation. The Journal’sstorynotes, in the 18th graph, that the deployment “risks widening the Philippine conflict.”

The papers report that a major financier of the Taliban, whom the NYT calls a “drug lord,” walked into a Marine compound yesterday and offered to cooperate. “Our military intelligence people were jumping with joy at the opportunity to talk to him,” said a Marine spokesperson.

The NYT’soff-lead, citing U.S. officials, says, “Many Pashtun tribal leaders in eastern Afghanistan have balked at cooperating with American Special Operations Forces.” The Times’ article doesn’t mention that yesterday’s Christian Science Monitor has the same story, only backward. The CSM reports, “US special forces in eastern Afghanistan have shunned overtures for assistance from local Pashtun warlords.”

The WSJ notes that yesterday Turkey joined a growing list of anti-terror allies that have asked the United States for trade concessions and have come away with bubkas. “A half-dozen countries important to the antiterror coalition have asked the Bush administration to raise U.S. textile-import quotas,” says the Journal. “All but Pakistan have been turned away.” (Here’s a question the papers should ask: Given that the administration espouses the virtues of free trade, why is it supporting textile quotas?) 

Remember when the press—and FBI—speculated that terrorists used Sept. 11 to make a few bucks off the stock market? Well, according to Bloomberg News, “investigators haven’t found proof of insider trading in the U.S.,” though it’s possible they may have done so elsewhere. (Today’s Papers can’t see everything in the papers at this hour, but so far as he can tell, none of the papers run a story on the disclosure.) 

The papers report that a disgruntled student opened fire at a law school in Virginia, killing three, including the school’s dean, who had been a senior official in President Clinton’s Justice Department.

The NYT’s Bill Safire has a charming column  about, well, about how he and his brother helped an aircraft carrier get a quick TV promo in 1952.

The LAT picks up a wire story that reports, “a plaque intended to honor black actor James Earl Jones at a Florida celebration of the life of Martin Luther King Jr. instead paid tribute to James Earl Ray, the man who shot and killed King at a Memphis hotel in 1968.” The plaque’s manufacturer explained, “We in no way meant any disrespect. It was an honest error.”