The Washington Post and New York Times leads check on the progress of negotiations between the administration and Congress over an Iraq resolution after President Bush offended Democrats by saying they were willing to put national security at risk. “The security of our country is the commitment of both political parties,” Bush said yesterday to soothe hurt feelings. Senate Majority Leader Tom Daschle, among the most offended, wasn’t placated and told reporters that Bush’s original remarks have made it “much harder” to reach a resolution on Iraq. The papers note that the White House and congressional leaders are working with a new draft resolution that alleviates Congress’ concern that the original proposal was too broad. According to the WP, congressional leaders say they’ll have a war resolution passed by mid-October. The Los Angeles Times lead emphasizes news that Great Britain and the United States have agreed on a U.N. Security Council draft resolution that would require Saddam to cooperate with weapons inspectors within a short period of time or face force. The LAT says there is a general understanding that inspectors must be back within two weeks and that Iraq must give up its worst weapons within six months. The top story in the Wall Street Journal’s world-wide news box is a status check on both the congressional and U.N. Iraq draft resolutions. The lead at USA Today, which fronts Congress and Iraq, says that the interest rate on 30-year loans is now 5.99 percent, the lowest in 31 years.
The NYT lead emphasizes that the new Iraq draft resolution for Congress has dropped a phrase that would have allowed the use of force to “restore international peace and security in the region” because some lawmakers thought this could mean the U.S. military must secure the entire Middle East.
The papers say that an undersecretary of state is off to visit U.N. Security Council members Russia and France to convince them of the merits of the Anglo-American U.N. draft resolution. Secretary of State Powell has spoken to China about the proposal. However, Powell noted, the U.S. is a “long way from getting an agreement” out of the Security Council.
The WSJ piece notes up high that administration officials are emphasizing to Congress and the U.N. that they worry Iraq could use unmanned aircraft that can be controlled from greater distances to spread chemical or biological material. Later in the piece, the WSJ says these planes may not be a serious military threat because they are easily shot down, and the paper also suggests the aircraft are a localized civilian threat to Israelis or other allied civilians.
Senior Iraqi officials told the WP that they would be stationing their troops in Iraq’s major cities to make things more difficult for any invading American soldiers. American officials have already speculated to the press that urban warfare is the way Saddam is likely to go. “Take the desert,” an Iraqi Cabinet member told the paper. “If they want to change the political system in Iraq, they have to come to Baghdad. We will be waiting for them here.”
The papers report that Defense Secretary Rumsfeld is the latest administration official to argue that al-Qaida and Iraq are linked. According to the NYT, he said, “We have what we consider to be credible evidence that al-Qaida leaders have sought contacts in Iraq who could help them acquire weapons of mass destruction capabilities.” National Security Adviser Condoleezza Rice recently asserted that Iraq had trained some members of al-Qaida to use chemical weapons.
The NYT front reports that a campaign against Iraq could be complicated by the fact that Hezbollah, the militant group in Lebanon that has been harassing Israel, has accumulated thousands of surface-to-surface missiles, some of which could hit cities in northern Israel. Iran and Syria provided the weapons, perhaps to distract Bush from Iraq.
A top national story all around is news that in the deadliest bank holdup in over a decade, three robbers killed five at a bank in a small Nebraska town.
The papers note that Israeli missiles attacked Gaza City, aiming for a most-wanted Hamas official. The latest word is that the targeted militant survived but that two others were killed and two dozen bystanders wounded.
The papers report, the NYT on its front, an embarrassing mistake: In supplying Zacarias Moussaoui with evidence the United States may use against him, federal prosecutors accidentally gave him 48 documents’ worth of classified information. According to the judge on the case, “significant national security interests of the United States could be compromised” if Moussaoui were to keep the papers. Federal prosecutors don’t think he had a chance to read the information since he was given tons of material to go through. Officials have taken the files back from him because he technically can’t have them, the papers point out, since he doesn’t have the appropriate security clearance.