Today's Papers

Increasing the Inquiry

The Los Angeles Times leads with word that leaders of the congressional probe into 9/11-related intel failures announced that they will investigate the government’s response to terrorism dating from 1986, the year the CIA created its counter-terrorism center. The Wall Street Journal tops its world-wide newsbox with a summary of the 9/11-probes and related issues and emphasizes that President Bush “urged more FBI-CIA cooperation.” The Washington Post and USA Today lead with news that a committee of Catholic bishops has proposed defrocking priests who in the future molest children, but also said that priests who’ve in the past committed a single offense and been treated for it shouldn’t be kicked out. The proposed policy will be put to a vote next week at a meeting of the nation’s 300 Catholic bishops. The New York Times leads with word that U.S. officials said yesterday that they believe they’ve identified a (or perhaps the) key organizer of the Sept. 11 attacks: Khalid Shaikh Mohammed. Mohammed is a Kuwaiti who officials said is probably now in or near Afghanistan.

The papers mostly catch late-breaking news that a car-bomb destroyed a bus this morning in Israel, killing at least 17 people and injuring dozens.

The NYT informs us that Mohammed is related to Ramzi Ahmed Yousef, the man convicted of coordinating the 1993 WTC bombing. In 1996 Mohammed was indicted along with Yousef for planning to hijack and blow up 12 airliners over the Pacific Ocean. As the Times says, Mohammed’s alleged link to 9/11 “suggests a connection between the first attack on the World Trade Center and its destruction.” 

The LAT—which has the most info on Mohammed—says much of the information about him has come from the captured al-Qaida leader Abu Zubaida. That worries some officials, who wonder whether Zubaida may be leading the U.S. on a wild goose chase. Said one, “I think Zubaida knows that Mohammed is on the loose and that we won’t be able to catch him. Who knows? It’s all pop psychology at this point.”

The NYT off-leads news that the Justice Dept. will propose regulations this week to fingerprint and register foreigners holding visas in the U.S. who are “from countries [that] pose the highest risk to our security.” The Times, citing officials, says that will include “most visa holders from Saudi Arabia, Pakistan and many other Muslim nations.”

The Times says that civil libertarians and Arab-American groups railed against the proposal, which also has been “the subject of intense debate within the administration.”

Everybody notes that President Bush yesterday reiterated his opposition to an independent commission to look into 9/11 intel issues. “I don’t want to tie up our team when we’re trying to fight this war on terror,” said Bush.

The NYT notes that Bush also made a “carefully couched” assertion that he still doesn’t think that 9/11 could have been stopped: “I’ve seen no evidence today that said this country could have prevented the attack.”

In another late-breaking story, this one covered by wire dispatches in the papers, India’s prime minister said he would consider conducting joint patrols with Pakistan to verify that militants aren’t crossing the border in Kashmir. “We want to move away from a path of confrontation to a path of cooperation,” he said. (The NYT wins swami-points for saying yesterday that India was toning down its war talk.)

The papers all note that Yasser Arafat met with CIA Director George Tenet yesterday and outlined his plans to reform his security forces, which includes halving the number of security branches. Many observers said they doubt that Arafat will commit to substantive changes. “Arafat won’t even change his jacket,” one Palestinian minister told the LAT. “You think he will change his Cabinet?”

The WP and NYT both say that Tenet hasn’t come with any significant proposals to calm the situation. Instead, speculates the Post, his “visit appears to be aimed at laying the groundwork for a decision by President Bush on whether, how and where to intervene forcefully in Middle East diplomacy.”

The papers all go high with the Census Bureau’s newly released demographic data, which includes figures on income. The Post says that the figures show that “the economic boom of the 1990s raised the incomes of the poorest Americans, held the size of the middle class steady and swelled the ranks of those with six-digit incomes.” (The WP headlines the story, ” ‘90s BOOM HAD BROAD IMPACT.”)

The NYT isn’t impressed by the broad growth in income. It headlines,GAINS OF 90’S DID NOT LIFT ALL, CENSUS SHOWS.”

The Times story begins, “Despite the surging economy of the 1990’s that brought affluence to many Americans, the poor remained entrenched, the Census Bureau reported today.” The next sentence explains, “9.2 percent of families were deemed poor in 2000, a slight improvement from 10 percent in 1989.”

Meanwhile, the article’s 22nd paragraph (the story’s last) mentions what looks like a pretty important stat, “After taking inflation into account, the bureau found that the median family income climbed 9.5 percent from 1989 to 1999.”

The WSJ seems to pick up on that point. Its story on the data is headlined, “CENSUS FIGURES SHOW POVERTY DROPPED, MEDIAN INCOME GREW.”

Everybody notes that the census numbers were gathered before last year’s economic downturn.

The census also found that of 281.4 million people counted, 31.1 million were immigrants, 11.3 million more than in 1990, an increase of 57 percent. The NYT says that those figures surpass “the [last] century’s greatest wave of immigration, from 1900 to 1910, when the number of foreign-born residents grew by 31 percent.”

Everybody notes that one day after Tyco CEODennis Kozlowski resigned from the company he was indicted for tax evasion.

Bye Bye … Readers of today’s WP might notice something missing from their paper, namely, the name of nearly every article’s author. That’s because there is currently a contract dispute at the Post, causing writers to declare a temporary “byline strike.”