Today's Papers

Kofi Grinds

The New York Times leads with word that President Bush plans in his U.N. speech today to call for the U.N. to enforce its resolutions requiring that Iraq “unconditionally disarm.” According to the paper, Bush will say that if the U.N. doesn’t do the job, the U.S. will. The Washington Post, USA Today, and Los Angeles Times all lead with President Bush’s visits to the various memorial ceremonies yesterday. During his nationally televised speech in New York, the president said, in an apparent reference to Iraq among others, “We will not allow any terrorist or tyrant to threaten civilization with weapons of mass murder. Now and in the future, Americans will live as free people, not in fear, and never at the mercy of any foreign plot or power.”

The papers all say that Bush’s speech won’t mention a specific timeframe in which Saddam needs to let inspectors in. But the papers also point out that officials say “privately” (the NYT’s lame word) that the White House is pushing the U.N. to demand that inspectors go in within weeks.

Everybody notes up high that 15 minutes before the president’s talk, U.N. Secretary General Kofi Annan plans to give his own, very different, view of things. The papers know that because, in what the NYT calls an “unusual step,” Annan released a partial transcript of the speech he’s planning to give today. The money paragraph: “For any one state—large or small—choosing to follow or reject the multilateral path must not be a simple matter of political convenience. It has consequences far beyond the immediate context. … There is no substitute for the unique legitimacy provided by the United Nations.”

The LAT notes that the administration plans to release a 22-page report today detailing Iraq’s various violations of U.N. resolutions.

The WP fronts, the NYT reefers, and everybody else stuffs news that the headquarters of the command overseeing U.S. forces in the Mideast is at least temporarily moving much of its staff from its current home in Florida to a base in the Persian Gulf state of Qatar. The NYT and WP both point out that the base in question has recently been expanded and is now probably ready to serve as a big war HQ. FYI: One of the reasons the papers may know that is because some folks have recently published commercial satellite photos showing construction at the base. 

The NYT notes inside that ethnic groups in northern Iraq are “already squabbling” about who should control one oil-rich area if and when Saddam falls. Various pundit-types have been warning  recently that should Saddam get the boot, the U.S. will have a tough time keeping Iraq in one piece.

Everybody stuffs news that the Palestinian legislature forced Yasser Arafat’s whole Cabinet to resign after legislators threatened Arafat with a vote of no-confidence. The papers suggest that the legislature’s surge of independence was a big step toward democratic reform, though as the NYT points out up high, a number of the now unemployed Cabinet members were themselves considered reformers by the U.S. and Israel.

The Wall Street Journal  and the NYT’s business section say that prosecutors and the SEC are planning on bringing charges of fraud and “grand larceny” against the former CEO of Tyco, L. Dennis Kozlowski, as well as against two other top execs. The Times also says that Tyco itself plans to sue Kozlowski and demand that he return all the money he made from the company since 1997: At least 250 million bucks.

Everybody notes that Johnny Unitas, the former Baltimore Colt who many consider to have been the greatest quarterback in history, died yesterday of a heart attack. He was 69.

War of Words … The Journal’s top world-wide newsbox article notes, “Within weeks of the [Sept. 11] attacks, Mr. Bush had plunged the country into a war on terrorism, beginning first in Afghanistan. That war now appears on the verge of broadening into Iraq.” Not necessarily. The Journal is simply blindly adopting the administration’s dubious argument that nailing Saddam is naturally part of the “war on terror.” Whatever the merits of invading Iraq, there is damn little evidence that Saddam supports al-Qaida or any other terrorists aiming at the U.S. The White House may be trying to conflate the two issues; that doesn’t mean the papers need to do the same.