The New York Times leads with President Bush’s apparent order to get more Iraqi police trained pronto. During what appeared to be an Iraq (re)assessment meeting with aides yesterday, Bush “made it clear that [training] is not happening fast enough,” one unnamed official recounted. As the Times describes it, Iraqis will be given a “few weeks training” then sent to the “front lines.” The Washington Post leads with the U.N.’s decision to pull its few remaining staff out of Baghdad and the Red Cross’s announcement that it’s withdrawing most of its international staff. USA Today leads with, and the Los Angeles Times continues to banner, the SoCal fires: A firefighter died yesterday, bringing the death toll from the fires to 20. About 2,600 homes have been destroyed including 350 yesterday in the resort area of Lake Arrowhead. One of the fires is now the largest recorded blaze in California state history.
The papers mostly tease on Page One congressional negotiators’ decision to make the reconstruction bill for Iraq entirely a grant rather than have a portion of it in loans. The House-Senate committee voted 16-to-13 to go all-grants but also trimmed about $2 billion from the president’s proposed $20 billion package, cutting off funds for, among other things, restoring wetlands, creating a ZIP codes system, and buying a bunch of garbage trucks.
The Wall Street Journal notes that many legislators are still angry at the White House for the way it refused to consider any loans. “The administration has been arrogant,” said one Republican rep. “Pride goeth before the fall.”
Two U.S. soldiers were killed and another seriously wounded in Iraq late Tuesday when their M-1 Abrams tank was hit by a bomb. Also, at least six Ukrainian soldiers were wounded when their transport hit a land mine. As the papers note, more U.S. soldiers have now died in combat since May 1 than since the portion of war before it. Also, as the WP and NYT both mention, U.S troops are now facing about 30 attacks per day, up from 15-to-20 over the summer.
The LAT and NYT, both citing an unnamed senior official, say the military thinks the attacks are being coordinated by a former top Iraqi general, Izzat Ibrahim al-Duri, the king of clubs on the “wanted” deck of cards. The LAT, which has a far more detailed dispatch, says officials suspect that al-Duri has paid Ansar al Islam to attack coalition targets.
The NYT says the investigators have found that three of the five recent bombings used explosives manufactured in Portugal. As the Times explains, most attacks in Iraq have simply used old Iraqi ordnance.
The LAT’s Paul Watson gets on Page One with a piece saying that U.S.-supported militia in Afghanistan harassed and terrorized people in one village. “They stand with the Americans, and when Americans leave an area, then the militias go by another route and rob the houses,” said one villager.
The NYT’s off-lead says that as Congress pushes forward a bill to overhaul corporate taxes, lobbyists are succeeding in getting it pumped full of industry-specific tax cuts—that is, mostly pork. The bill would also reduce the corporate tax rate for domestic manufacturing from 35 percent to 32 percent—that would cost about $61 billion over 10 years.
The NYT fronts a federal judge’s ruling overturning one of three convictions against a former CIA agent, Edwin Wilson, for selling explosives to Libya. The judge ruled that the prosecutors had “deliberately deceived the court” during the early 1980s trial when they introduced a false affidavit stating that Wilson had no connections to the CIA. The WP went inside with this yesterday.
With all the fretting about the U.S.’s lack of intel about guerrillas in Iraq, the military might want to speak to some Baghdadis. The LAT says many residents are sure they know who was behind the recent bombings: Israel.