Everybody leads with Iraq’s formal declaration to the U.N. yesterday that, contrary to U.S. and British claims, it does not possess weapons of mass destruction and has no current plans to develop them.
The nearly 12,000-page statement was filed more than 24 hours before an official deadline previously set by the U.N. Security Council. While no specifics were released, the dossier contained what Iraqi officials described as the “currently accurate, full and complete details” of its arsenal of chemical, biological, and nuclear weapons, the Washington Post reports.
Of course, that might not mean much. The Los Angeles Times notes that during the U.N.’s previous inspection regime from 1991 to 1998, Iraq turned in eight different “full, final and complete declarations” of its weapons programs, none of which turned out to be full, final, or complete.
Meanwhile, Saddam Hussein yesterday issued a surprise apology to the people of Kuwait for Iraq’s 1990 invasion. “We apologize to God for any action in the past … that was considered to be our responsibility, and we apologize to you on the same basis,” Saddam said in a statement read by one of his top advisers.
That atonement, however, was coupled with a direct appeal to Islamic militants in Kuwait to join him in defying the country’s “occupying liberal armies”—that’s Saddam-speak for U.S. troops. He also condemned Kuwait’s royal family for conspiring with “infidels” against Iraq and praised recent terrorist attacks against U.S. soldiers in the region, according to the New York Times.
Yesterday’s developments drew little in the way of new comments from the White House, where officials said they were preparing to compare their intelligence reports with Saddam’s declaration. But everybody notes it could be days, possibly weeks, before Security Council members get their hands on the filing. U.N. reps first have to translate the document and then screen it for potentially sensitive information, such as how to build a nuclear bomb.
A NYT piece notes that by early January, the U.S. will have enough troops and military equipment in the Persian Gulf to attack Iraq. About 60,000 soldiers, sailors, marines, and airmen, as well as about 200 warplanes, are in or near the region already, while four aircraft carriers with the ability to strike Iraq on short notice are set to be in place by next week.
Meanwhile, the LAT fronts news that Bush officials have all but eliminated the idea of U.S. military rule in postwar Iraq. An unnamed State Department official tells the paper that the administration is considering an “international civilian coalition” modeled after the governing body set up in Kosovo in 1999. Among the group’s expected tasks: determining who will financially benefit from Iraqi oil fields.
The NYT fronts, and the WP stuffs, word that members of Congress investigating the 9/11 attacks will issue a final report next week suggesting the appointment of a Cabinet-level director of national intelligence. Furthermore, they want the position to outrank the director of the CIA. Yet the papers disagree on whether the panel will also press for the creation of a separate domestic intelligence agency. The WP says the panel will ask for a study into creating a new spy agency, while the NYT downplays any such move.
Everybody reports that Democrat Mary Landrieu of Louisiana fended off GOP challenger Suzanne Haik Terrell to win her second term in the Senate yesterday. According to final returns, Landrieu won 52 percent of the vote, compared to Terrell’s 49 percent. Though Republicans still maintain control of the Senate by a 51-49 vote, it’s considered a major loss for Bush, who campaigned heavily for Terrell in the final weeks of the campaign.
The WP reports that loud construction blasts at Vice President Dick Cheney’s official residence have neighbors crying foul. The blasts, which last anywhere from three to five seconds apiece, have been going off two to three times a day, from 7 a.m. to 11 p.m., in recent weeks. No one knows what is going on, and officials at the Naval Observatory—where Cheney lives—say their lips are sealed because of security concerns. The leading theory: An underground bunker is being built for the Cheney clan.
An LAT business piece checks in on a nasty legal fight brewing between singer Don Henley and former Eagles band mate Don Felder. Henley has long been an outspoken critic of record companies in the battle over musician royalties. Yet, Henley is being accused of cheating Felder out of millions of dollars in album and concert profits. “It is absolutely the height of hypocrisy for him to attempt to reinvent himself as the champion for artists’ rights,” Felder says.
Finally, the NYT today publishes a pair of now-infamous sports columns it initially rejected two weeks ago that weigh in on the debate over Augusta National’s refusal to admit women. (Click here for a Slate piece on the subject.) Sports writer Dave Anderson’s piece—which was initially killed because it was viewed as a rebuttal to a NYT editorial on the subject—says Tiger Woods has no obligation to get involved in the debate over the golf club’s policy. Meanwhile, Harvey Araton’s piece questions the importance of the Augusta debate in relation to other issues facing women’s sports, like the potential elimination of women’s softball from the Olympics. Times editors said his column suffered from “structural problems.”