The New York Times, Washington Post, Wall Street Journal world-wide newsbox, and Los Angeles Times all lead with what everybody says seemed to be a pretty productive summit between President Bush and five Arab leaders: The Arab leaders promised to try to cut off donations to Palestinian groups such as Hamas that have been launching terror attacks. And President Bush promised to push Israel. USA Today leads with a new poll that found that foreigners’ trust of the U.S. has eroded again in the last year. In seven of the eight Muslim countries polled, a majority of respondents said they actually feared a U.S. invasion. About half the respondents in Indonesia, Jordan, Morocco, and Pakistan said they have confidence in Osama Bin Laden to “do the right thing in world affairs.” The survey, which was conducted by Pew, can be found here.
Everybody goes high with comments by Bush, which he didn’t think were being broadcast, that Israel “must deal with the settlements.” (The NYT has a separate piece on the unscripted moment and the blunt stuff Bush said.) As the Journal notes, Bush’s official statement didn’t mention settlements. The WP and Journal emphasize that the Arab leaders didn’t give Palestinian Prime Minister Abu Mazen the shout-out and support that Bush was looking for. They still referenced Yasser Arafat as the Palestinians’ leader. Meanwhile, in a goodwill gesture, Israel released about 100 Palestinian prisoners, including the longest-held prisoner—he was convicted in 1975 of masterminding a bombing that killed 14 Israelis.
The Post notes, “Some Arab governments have long supported groups that stage suicide attacks in Israel.” Why not name names and out the giving governments?
The NYT mentions inside that everybody has been surprised by the “intensity of the White House’s involvement in the peacemaking here in recent weeks.” Yesterday’s Post described Bush as “hands-off” and as confident that the peace process won’t need “firm intervention by the United States.”
The poll on global attitudes toward the U.S. doesn’t include Saudi Arabia. Though none of the papers flag the absence, Today’s Papers can guess why it wasn’t in the survey: When a similar poll was conducted last year, the Saudi government refused to let the pollsters in.
In a Page One piece about the beginnings of investigations into what might have gone wrong with U.S. intel about Iraq’s alleged no-no weapons, the NYT emphasizes that a CIA internal review is examining the so-called “national intelligence estimate” on Iraq that is supposed to represent the combined conclusions of all intel agencies and was put out in October. The Times never really explains why that’s particularly surprising or a big deal. Meanwhile, the article mentions midway through that a separate congressional inquiry has asked the CIA to answer whether the intel on Iraq was of “sufficient quality and quantity to provide sufficient accuracy.” The Times says one CIA official said the answer is no.
In news nobody goes high with, another U.S. soldier was shot and killed in Iraq—the seventh GI to die in combat within the past week.
A piece teased on the front page of the NYT says that U.S. soldiers have just now begun to excavate the potential Saddam hiding place that was bombed April 7. Asked why they waited seven weeks, an officer in charge of the excavation unit said he didn’t know. He added, “This is not something that is time sensitive.”
The WP mentions inside that Iraqi political groups said they’ll go ahead with their planned national conference even though the U.S. says it’s canceled. “The U.S. cannot cancel a conference that is led by Iraqis,” said a spokesman for the former Pentagon-chummy Iraqi National Congress.
The LAT fronts a fascinating interview with one of Saddam’s top chemical weapons generals; he insists that Saddam tossed out all his banned weapons in the 1990s. “I think, maybe, Saddam wanted to rebuild the [chemical and biological weapons] programs when sanctions were lifted,” said the general. Asked why Saddam left this year’s U.N. inspectors with so many unresolved questions, the general said, “I don’t know. Maybe Saddam is too proud.” A former U.N. inspector urged skepticism, saying the general “wouldn’t necessarily know about covert things.”
The NYT continues on its (pretty reasonable) crusade highlighting the 6.5 million low-income families that won’t get child tax credits in the newly passed cuts. Republican House leader Tom DeLay has said that he won’t consider a Democratic-sponsored measure to include those families in the credit. The Page One piece is headlined, “DELAY REBUFFS MOVE TO RESTORE LOST TAX CREDIT.” What that doesn’t say and what makes it potentially misleading is that DeLay says he does support a Republican-sponsored bill to include the kids in the cuts, so long as it would include a new round of wider tax cuts.
The WP fronts two reports by liberal-leaning think tanks concluding that Bush’s tax cuts over the past few years will end up increasing the middle class’s tax share while decreasing the tax share paid by America’s richest (those making over $330k per year) and poorest (those making less than $28k per year). The Post forgets to mention that last point in its display type: “MIDDLE CLASS TAX SHARE SET TO RISE: Studies Say Burden of Rich to Decline.”
Everybody fronts news that the feds are about to indict Martha Stewart for her (relatively small) shady stock trade last year. Stewart’s lawyer says Martha plans to plead not guilty.
A real sleeper … In deeply disturbing news for the, um, terminally bleary-eyed Today’s Papers, USAT announces on D8, “NIGHT SHIFT LINKED TO CANCER.”