Today's Papers

Valley of the Pigs

The New York Times leads with details of the Bush administration’s war plan against Iraq. The preliminary blueprint calls for the massing of up to 250,000 troops and will include a major ground war to seize land within Iraq to give American forces a place other than Saudi Arabia or Turkey to mobilize. The Washington Post leads with news that Lee Malvo, the teenager charged in connection with last month’s sniper attacks, told investigators that he was the trigger man in several of the shootings. The Los Angeles Times leads with word that Indonesian police raided an Islamic boarding school there in search of suspects behind last month’s bombing of two popular nightclubs on the island of Bali.

According to the NYT, the Iraqi war plan is modeled more after the post-9/11 invasion of Afghanistan than after the Persian Gulf War, which used twice the number of soldiers and included a long air campaign that left major destruction in its wake. (The WP, which
fronts its piece on the subject, says the plan resembles the 1989 U.S. invasion of Panama.) This time, military officials plan to seize control of most of the country before advancing on Baghdad, where fighting is expected to be heaviest. Air attacks would be targeted mainly at Iraqi security forces and at suspected repositories of chemical and biological weapons. But U.S. officials are hopeful that Saddam Hussein will be ousted from office before fighting reaches Baghdad.
Both the NYT and the WP go into surprising detail about what the military plans to do in Iraq and where and when it plans to do it. The WP notes it had even more details than it published but that it held back at the request of senior Defense Department officials. Both papers credit unnamed sources for the scoop, while the WP—in a move that Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld (who has railed against leaks) will no doubt love—quotes one unnamed administration official on why leaking the war plan isn’t a bad thing. Reason No. 1: It might convince the Arab world that the U.S. isn’t targeting the Iraqi people. Reason No. 2: The U.S. wants the Iraqi military to know that it will destroy units loyal to Saddam.

Meanwhile, the LAT fronts a lengthy
rehash of the events leading to Friday’s unanimous U.N. Security Council vote in favor of the Iraq resolution. It took nearly three months of behind-the-scenes wrangling to get the resolution passed and conflict wasn’t just within the Bush administration and between U.S. officials and U.N. members. The story says former South African President Nelson Mandela even jumped in the fray at one point, by attempting to get Saddam on the phone to tell him to comply with U.N. demands. According to the paper, Saddam didn’t take the call.
The WP says Malvo’s apparent confession came during a seven-hour interview with Virginia detectives Friday. During the interrogation, in which Malvo’s attorney was not present, the teenager claimed responsibility for several of the shootings, though sources will only confirm one: the killing of a FBI employee in a Home Depot parking lot. Malvo was “talkative, smiling, even bragging” in response to questions and told authorities that all of the shootings were meticulously planned, the WP says. The NYT notes that investigators now believe Malvo was the gunman in most of the killings.

The WP
profiles the attorneys representing the two defendants. Before this, John Allen Muhammad’s attorney was best known for having defended sportscaster Marv Albert on 1997 sodomy charges. Meanwhile, the NYT goes inside with a profile of the two prosecutors in the case, who, between them, have sent 17 people to death row. But they, too, have strange connections to celebrity crime. The prosecutor in Muhammad’s case previously tried Lorena Bobbitt for cutting off her husband’s penis.

The LAT says Indonesian authorities believe five men affiliated with the Islamic school raided yesterday are connected to the bombings in Bali. They include the director, two teachers, and two cofounders—both of whom were apprehended last week. The others are still on the run. All are believed to have ties to Jemaah Islamiah, a terrorist group that reportedly has ties to al-Qaida.

Everybody goes inside with continued analysis of what happened to the Democrats last Tuesday and what Republicans will do now that they have control of both Congress and the White House. Despite evidence to the contrary in recent days, the LAT
says the GOP is not gloating over its Election Day victories so as not to offend swing voters who will be crucial Bush’s re-election chances in the 2004 presidential race. The WP looks at what some deem to be the Democrats’ biggest fault these days: Underestimating Bush as a smart guy. “Book smarts have not necessarily been a perfect indicator of presidential success,” Bruce Reed, a former adviser to President Clinton tells the paper. He says Bush’s strength is his “regular guy” image.

In the “Week in Review” section, the NYT’s Adam Clymer
looks at whether the Bush family now truly qualifies as a political dynasty. The piece hypothesizes that the Bushes have so far escaped the antagonism that has plagued other political families like the Kennedys because each Bush has a distinctly different political personality. Or is it just plain luck?

Finally, the NYT
checks in on San Jose, Calif., better known as the capital of Silicon Valley, where herds of wild pigs, some as large as small cows, have overrun the city in recent months. In what surely seems like a case of Babe run amuck, the swine have uprooted manicured lawns by the dozen, chased little kids and, when bored, made piglets by the litter. State wildlife experts say the drought—and not some Orwellian curse—is to blame for the pig boom.