Today's Papers

Turkey’s Day

The New York Times, Wall Street Journal world-wide newsbox, and Los Angeles Times all lead with suggestions from Turkey’s foreign minister that his country won’t allow U.S. ground troops to use Turkey as a launching pad for an invasion of Iraq but will let the U.S. use Turkish bases to launch airstrikes. The LAT, alone among the papers, adds that Saudi Arabia has agreed to let the U.S. use its airbases in any attack. The Pentagon hadn’t been counting on that. The Washington Post’s top non-local story goes with U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan’s comments that Iraq’s cooperation with inspectors “seems to be good.” That’s not what President Bush said yesterday. USA Today leads with Saudi Arabia’s response to charges that it’s not cracking down on potential terror financiers: A top Saudi official held a press conference yesterday pointing out that his country has frozen 33 bank accounts, worth $5.6 million, and has begun auditing all of its charities.    

Both the Journal and Post say it’s not clear if the Turkish foreign minister’s comments—yes to bases, no to troops—represents a done deal. In fact, after the minister’s comments, Turkey’s government issued a pullback, perhaps just for domestic consumption, saying that the minister was only referring to “possibilities.”

According to the Post and NYT,the Turks said they would only support an invasion if it happened with U.N. approval. The LAT, though, citing the same Turkish official that the other papers do, concludes that Turkey wants U.N. approval but won’t ultimately insist on it. (The NYT includes a supporting quote; the LAT doesn’t.)

Anyway, Turkey seems to have other priorities. “They basically want two things: no independent state for the Iraqi Kurds in the north, and a ton of dough,” one Western diplomat told the LAT. “Billions and billions of dollars, and I think we’re going to pay it.”

The NYT reefers (and stop asking if that’s a typo) a report from congressional investigators concluding that new Bush regulations imposed on the FDA have at least temporarily limited the agency’s ability to rein in misleading ads. The regulations require that FDA warning letters be reviewed at HQ before they can be sent out, resulting in as much as a two-month delay. By that time some of the ads are done being broadcast.

A front-page piece in the NYT notes that the Bush administration has decided to end a Clinton-era ban and make many political appointees in federal government eligible for merit-based cash bonuses. The policy, which was actually instituted in March but never publicized, only applies to midlevel appointees. Presidential appointees—Cabinet secretaries and such—still can’t get the stuffed envelopes.

The NYT off-leads, the LAT and USAT front, and the WP all but skips, newly released church documents detailing how the Archdiocese of Boston looked the other way when priests were accused of, and even admitted to, sexual abuse. In one case, a priest was treated for pedophilia and then reassigned to another parish, despite the treatment center’s warnings not to do that.   

The WP fronts word that Republicans are pulling out all the stops to beat Louisiana Democratic Sen. Mary Landrieu in her state’s special election on Saturday. Landrieu was forced into a runoff because she didn’t get 50 percent of the vote, as state law requires. The GOP is spending 5 million bucks on ads opposing Landrieu and parachuting loads of strategists into the state. One GOP operative dubbed the effort “Operation Icing on the Cake.” Thus the story’s headline: “BUSH GOES FOR ‘ICING’ IN LOUISIANA: GOP Pours Cash Into Senate Race Viewed as ‘04 Test.” The only problem with this angle is that, as the Post mentions in the 21st paragraph, the Dems are also spending $5 mil and also sending in hotshot advisers. So, why focus on just one party?

On Monday the NYT ran a story about steroid use that had, as some folks have pointed out, nada in terms of news. Today’s Times, though, does run an update: According to an Editor’s Note, former Olympic hammer-thrower George Frenn disputes the story’s claim that another Olympian saw Frenn inject himself with steroids. Nor is he French, as the story said. Frenn also disagrees with the story’s portrayal of his health status: He is not dead.