The Washington Post leads with a piece saying that Bush administration lawyers “have concluded” that the president can legally attack Saddam without prior approval from Congress. The lawyers argue, among other points, that Bush already has the power to invade from congressional resolutions adopted prior to Gulf War I. Still, the piece says that some inside the White House think that Bush should get Congress’ blessing in any case. The New York Times leads with a check-in on the state of Iraq’s military and how it might oppose a U.S. invasion. The article, which doesn’t say much new, emphasizes that Saddam would try to bleed U.S. forces by making them fight in cities. The LAT noted this a few weeks ago. USA Today leads with news that the Pentagon plans to keep some reserve troops on active duty for two years, the first time that’s happened since the Vietnam War. When not called up, reserve soldiers serve one weekend per month and two weeks per summer. About 15,000 troops, mostly in the Air Force, will be ordered to stay for the long haul. The Los Angeles Times leads with a look at a new report on poverty in California that found that, in contrast to national averages, about half of California kids living in poverty live in two-parent households. As the paper points out, the poverty line for a family of four is $17,524.
The Wall Street Journal tops its business box with word that various OPEC countries, including Saudi Arabia, have suggested that they’ll make up any oil shortfalls in the event of an attack on Iraq. Saudi officials have previously said that they don’t support an invasion of Iraq. The Journal skips that point, and simply states that the Saudis and others see Saddam as a “regional threat.”
The WP reports inside that the State Department will host a media/spin-training session next week for Iraqi dissidents. The story doesn’t mention the LAT, which had the scoop on this yesterday.
The Post fronts word that drug companies are suing states to prevent them from integrating cheaper, generic drugs into their Medicaid programs. The WP notes that most consumer groups, as well as the Bush administration, oppose the drug companies’ maneuver.
The NYT notes inside that the U.S. seems to be telling European countries that if they don’t agree to exempt U.S. soldiers from the new International Criminal Court, then the U.S. might have to re-examine its role in NATO. As the U.S. ambassador for war crimes put it, if Europeans don’t agree to give immunity, then the status quo between the United States and NATO “will obviously not exist, and we will have to see how we can work through this.” (A State Department spokesman denied that the U.S. is linking immunity to NATO support.)
A front-page piece in the Post says that China has been committing some (sane) dissidents to psychiatric hospitals. The paper says it’s not clear whether this is the result of official policy, or whether it’s a few isolated cases carried out by overzealous bureaucrats and shrinks.
Everybody notes that yesterday anthrax non-suspect Steven Hatfill had another press conference, during which he swung at Attorney General John Ashcroft, who has publicly called Hatfill “a person of interest.” The FBI says it doesn’t use the term and Hatfill’s lawyer argued that it doesn’t have any legal meaning. (Questions: Is he right? When else, if ever, has the term been used?) Hatfill also slammed NYT columnist Nicholas Kristof, whom Hatfill accused of repeating bogus leaks and of “transparently implicating me” in his columns. (Kristof, citing no sources, reported that Hatfill “failed three successive polygraph tests.” Hatfill says he took only one and that he passed it.) Hatfill said he’d be willing to give a blood sample in order to prove that he’s never come into contact with anthrax. By the way, the NYT, to its credit, is the paper with the most detail on Hatfill’s swipes at Kristof.
The WP’s Howard Kurtz notices that a story in Friday’s NYT—headlined, “BRITISH AIDE SAYS TOPPLING HUSSEIN IS NOT A GOAL FOR LONDON”—quoted British Foreign Secretary Jack Straw as telling the BBC that toppling Saddam Hussein is “not an object of British foreign policy.” Sounds good, except that according to the British Embassy as cited by Kurtz, Straw never said that; the BBC interviewer did. No correction yet from the NYT.