Everybody leads with news that President Bush sent Congress his draft resolution on Iraq. The draft, which the papers describe as broadly worded—it seeks “unlimited powers,” says the Washington Post—calling for Congress to give the president “all means he determines to be appropriate” to take care of Saddam and “restore international peace and security in the region.” The White House is hoping for a vote in about two weeks.
The Post says that the draft was “favorably received,” while the Wall Street Journal says the wide scope of the proposals “surprised” many Democrats, who said they’ll push for changes. Everybody says that one of the big issues will be whether the bill will require the administration to get the U.N.’s go-ahead before acting. Meanwhile, a piece inside the Post asks some legal scholars to ponder the draft: They say it’s the broadest request for military authority since the Gulf of Tonkin resolution.
Everybody mentions that Saddam sent a letter to the U.N. ranting and raving about the U.S’s supposedly devious plans. He declared Iraq to be free of all nuclear, chemical and biological weapons and pointed out that the U.S. is just “acting on behalf of Zionism.” In a bit the papers skip, Saddam also said, “Some of the inspectors went on doing intelligence and espionage work that had nothing to do with the official mandate of the inspection teams.” What’s interesting about that line is that he’s right. According to a March 2, 1999 piece in the Post: “United States intelligence services infiltrated agents and espionage equipment for three years into United Nations arms control teams in Iraq … according to U.S. government employees and documents.”
A front page piece in the New York Times points out that the administration is set to release a report detailing its new national security stance. The Times says that the document—which the paper happens to have—reiterates the administration’s policy of pre-emption and in a surprising bit of blunt talk, also states:“The president has no intention of allowing any foreign power to catch up with the huge lead the United States has opened since the fall of the Soviet Union more than a decade ago.”
Most of the papers front yesterday’s suicide bombing on a bus in Tel Aviv. Five people were killed and about 50 were injured. Israeli tanks and troops stormed Yasser Arafat’s compound in Ramallah, bulldozed a number of buildings, and demanded the surrender of about 20 wanted men inside. (According to late-night news reports, at least eight of the men have come out.) Israeli helicopter gunships and tanks also shelled some buildings in the Gaza Strip. The Islamic Jihad and Hamas both claimed responsibility for the bombing.
The WP points out a fact that hasn’t gotten much attention: Israeli troops have kept Arafat locked in his compound since June 24.
USA Today decides to stuff the bombing. Instead it fronts, among other pieces, a story by a reporter who was invited by the Miss America Organization to try out for the pageant (and presumably to write a nice big article about it): “The assignment intrigued me. Talk of the pageant’s increasing irrelevancy has swirled for so long …”
The papers all note that health officials said yesterday that they’re now sure that the West Nile virus can be spread through blood transfusions. The Post’s Nile coverage mentions that but instead focuses on something else the officials said: The virus has caused “polio-like symptoms” in at least six people in the U.S.
Everybody notes the latest thwack at the White House from Germany (which the NYT describes as an example of “anti-Americanism”): A German newspaper reported that during a campaign stop, the country’s justice minister, Herta Däubler-Gmelin, said: “Bush wants to divert attention from his domestic problems. It’s a classic tactic. It’s one that Hitler also used.” After hearing a wee bit of criticism about the comments, Däubler-Gmelin tried to defend herself, “I didn’t compare the persons Bush and Hitler, but their methods.” Meanwhile, the WP’s dispatch from Germany offers this bit of wisdom: “Even the hint of a comparison to Hitler is a blistering insult in public discourse here.”