Today's Papers

Process of Elimination

Everybody leads with President Bush’s promise yesterday to get Congress’ go-ahead before any invasion of Iraq. The papers all say that the promise was part of big new push to convince Americans, and the world, that pre-emption is the way to go on Iraq. “Today, the process starts,” said Bush.

“This is a debate the American people must hear, must understand,” said Bush. “[Saddam] has sidestepped, crawfished, wheedled out of any agreement he had made not to harbor, not to develop weapons of mass destruction.”

The White House said it’s hoping to get some sort of pro-invasion resolution passed before legislators head home to campaign for this fall’s elections. Meanwhile, Bush plans to give a speech about Iraq to the U.N. on Sept 12, and he said he’ll call up various world leaders to try to lasso their support.

The Los Angeles Times, which has the most detail on the emerging PR offensive, emphasizes that while the White House has been creating briefing-books detailing the threat Iraq represents, nobody should expect the administration to pull any aces out of its sleeves: “It has no stunning revelations or dramatic new facts” to present. The New York Times, meanwhile, dings the administration for having earlier hinted otherwise.

The Washington Post notes up high that the White House said Bush has yet to decide what he wants to do and that an invasion isn’t necessarily a done deal. Some of the congressional leaders who met with Bush yesterday got a different idea. “Military action is inevitable,” said Rep. Tom DeLay, R-Texas.

The Wall Street Journal and NYT both have stand-alones noting that German Chancellor Gerhard Schröder has been slamming the White House’s Iraq stance. The Times, which bases its piece on an interview the paper had with the chancellor a few days ago, notes that Schröder was particularly miffed that the (apparently childish) White House hasn’t asked for Germany’s blessing. “Consultation among grown-up nations has to mean not just consultation about the how and the when, but also about the whether,” said Schröder.

The WP and LAT note in front-page pieces that Secretary of State Powell was jeered yesterday as he tried to give his speech at the World summit in South Africa. “Shame on Bush,” they chanted.  The environmental activists said they were peeved that the U.S., among other things, has turned against the 1997 Kyoto treaty on global warming. Also, the conference itself closed yesterday and as the WP says, there were plenty of goals announced, but “few firm commitments on funding or timetables were set.”   

The Journal notes that the White House plans to try out the idea of arming airline pilots. The administration had opposed the idea, but then the House overwhelmingly passed a pro-arming bill.

USAT, continuing its WTC collapse series, has a good piece about how the elevators in the towers had a new safety feature that apparently contributed to dozens of deaths. The device, known as the HatchLatch, is designed to prevent people on stalled elevators from being able to pry open the doors and thus potentially fall into shafts. About half the elevators in the towers were so-equipped, and according to USAT, no one who was in one of them is known to have survived.

Everybody notes inside that before anthrax “person of interest” Steven Hatfill was fired from his job as a university bio-defense researcher, the Justice Department sent Hatfill’s boss an e-mail telling him to “immediately cease and desist” allowing Hatfill to work on any of the various university programs funded by the DOJ. A university spokesman said that’s not why Hatfill was fired. The NYT says that “several senior law enforcement officials expressed embarrassment” about the e-mail and blamed it on a bureaucrat who was free-styling.  The Post, meanwhile, has an editorial slamming the DOJ’s “smear” tactics.

The WSJ editorial page, apparently bored with arguing that Iraq was behind 9/11, today asks, “Was Saddam involved in Oklahoma City and the first WTC bombing?”