The New York Times and the Washington Post both lead with Iraq—the NYT with Saudi Arabia’s indication over the weekend that it would allow the U.S. to use Saudi bases in a war against Iraq as long as the U.N. supported the military action, and the WP with the Bush administration’s campaign to get an “ironclad” resolution out of the U.N. Security Council authorizing use of force against Iraq if it fails to comply with past resolutions. USA Today and the Los Angeles Times lead with the questioning by U.S. investigators of suspected al-Qaida operative Ramzi Binalshibh in Pakistan. The Wall Street Journal tops its world-wide newsbox, at least online, with news that prosecutors are investigating Enron for manipulating power prices during California’s energy crisis two years ago.
The WP says the White House is “hardening” its position as it begins negotiations with U.N. Security Council members over a resolution on Iraq. Citing comments made by various White House officials on the Sunday talk show circuit, the paper says the White House insists on three elements to any Iraq resolution—a declaration that Saddam Hussein has violated previous resolutions, a deadline for compliance, and an enumeration of the consequence if he does not comply. (The consequence sought by the White House, the WP says, would “probably” involve military force.)
The NYT headlines the comments by the Saudi foreign minister on CNN over the weekend that, if the U.N. authorizes an invasion of Iraq, Saudi Arabia would be “obliged” to let the U.S. use its military bases to prosecute the war, a notion it had previously balked at. (The WP notes the apparent shift in Saudi policy in the 12th paragraph of its lead story.) Both the NYT and the WP suggest that President Bush’s speech to the U.N. last week has softened international opposition to military action in Iraq, even in the Arab world.
The LAT, citing a Reuters report, says suspected al-Qaida leader Ramzi Binalshibh is undergoing questioning by FBI interrogators at a “secret location” in Pakistan. USAT has him at a U.S. air base in Jacobobad, about 300 miles north of Karachi. Binalshibh, whom U.S. officials believe was the “logistics coordinator” for the Sept. 11 attacks, was arrested by Pakistani officials on Wednesday in Karachi after a deadly firefight. Both papers note that the man, who is still technically in Pakistani custody, will likely end up in U.S. hands soon and could be a candidate for a trial before a military tribunal. USAT says Binalshibh was supposed to have been the 20th hijacker on Sept. 11 but was replaced by Zacarias Moussaoui after he couldn’t get into the U.S.
The WSJ fronts an estimate from Bush’s chief economic adviser, Lawrence Lindsey, that a war with Iraq would cost the U.S. between $100 billion and $200 billion. (Lindsey actually told the WSJ that the “upper bound” of the cost would be between 1 percent and 2 percent of the gross domestic product; the paper extrapolated the exact figures.) That is significantly more than the $50 billion estimate that Pentagon officials have privately been shopping around to members of Congress. Lindsey, though, describes that amount as “nothing.”
The NYT off-leads with an investigation, slugged “ The Unexamined,” into the public-health authorities’ failure to monitor the 15 survivors of last year’s anthrax attacks. It turns out that many of them, all of whom were infected but survived, suffer from fatigue, memory loss, shortness of breath, and panic attacks. Since very few people have ever survived the inhaled form of the disease, the survivors constitute a wealth of scientific data on the long-term effects of anthrax. But the Centers for Disease Control never conducted physical examinations or follow-up interviews with any of the survivors. The National Institutes of Health plans to begin such a study soon but, the NYT suggests, it may be too late to be scientifically valuable.
While the WP’s and the NYT’s Iraq stories seem to suggest that Bush is turning the international tide toward intervention in Iraq, the LAT fronts a story, sourced to Western diplomats, saying Arab leaders are unanimously opposed to a U.S. invasion. Aside from the general concerns about regional instability and exacerbating the overwhelming anti-American sentiment among Arab populations, the story points out that many Arab leaders fear the dissolution of Iraq if Saddam Hussein is toppled. One fear is that, during a postwar power vacuum, the Shiite Muslims in southern Iraq may try to break away or even merge with Shiite-dominated Iran.
The WP goes inside with a story about Yosri Fouda, the Al Jazeera journalist who conducted an interview with Ramzi Binalshibh that was broadcast shortly before Binalshibh was captured. Though the interview was conducted months ago, the fact that Binalshibh’s capture came on the heels of the broadcast last week has caused Islamic radicals to suspect that Fouda somehow gave Binalshibh up to Pakistani authorities, and he fears for his life. The story buries one fact that, to Today’s Papers, seems rather noteworthy: In Fouda’s interview with Binalshibh, the alleged terrorist says that Sept. 11 hijacker Mohamed Atta code-named his targets and referred to the Capitol building as the “Faculty of Law.” As the WP notes in passing, this information would seem to answer the mystery of the precise target of Flight 93, which crashed in Pennsylvania—it was headed for the Capitol, as opposed to, say, the White House.
The WSJ fronts a business profile of Snoop Dogg, aka Calvin Broadus, wherein it breaks the rather shocking news that Snoop has quit smoking pot. The paper says the “aging rapper”—he is 30 years old—is reinventing himself as a “pimp,” by which he means someone who is “feeling good” and “dressing good,” as opposed to his old image as a gangster. “Middle-America would rather me be pimping than gang-banging,” he tells the paper. The reinvention apparently encompasses both his appearances as a narrator and host in pornographic films and his upcoming guest appearance on an NBC Muppets Christmas special.