The New York Times leads with the Senate’s passage of a bill banning some late-term abortions, specifically procedures known to opponents as “partial-birth abortions.” The House passed the bill earlier this month, and President Bush has said he will sign it. Abortions-rights advocates said they’ll seek a court injunction, arguing that the law is too broad and saying that it doesn’t include necessary exemptions for cases involving the health of the mother. The NYT says most legal experts agree. The Los Angeles Times and WashingtonPost lead with Iran’s vague promise to halt uranium enrichment and to allow international inspectors to roam around nearly unfettered. In exchange, European countries offered vague assurances that they’ll help Tehran develop its civilian nuclear power program. Yesterday’s WP suggested such a deal was imminent. The Wall Street Journal tops its world-wide newsbox with President Bush’s threat to veto his own proposed reconstruction package to Iraq if Congress changes some of it from grants to loans. USA Today leads with a brainstorming memo SecDef Rumsfeld sent to his deputies that has a more sober take on the war against AQ and the war in Iraq than the White House usually portrays. “We are having mixed results with Al Qaida,” he wrote. Then he wondered, “Are we winning or losing the Global War on Terror? Is our current situation such that ‘the harder we work, the behinder we get’?”
The papers are mostly skeptical of Iran’s promises, noting that officials in Tehran didn’t say when they’ll start complying and also suggesting that the deal will be temporary anyway. “It could last for one day or one year,” a top Iranian official told reporters. “It depends on us.” The WP mentions, “European officials privately acknowledged the possibility that Iran was simply stalling for time to continue a weapons program.”
In keeping a paperswide habit, the LAT’s headline sacrifices accuracy in deference to official spin … from Tehran: “IRAN ACCEDES TO DEMANDS OF NUCLEAR AGENCY.” As the WP mentions, U.N. regulators want Iran to hand over details of its nukes program, but the deal doesn’t require Tehran to do that. “Our number one priority is information about the history, scope and nature of their program,” said one international inspector. “That is something the protocol is not going to help.”
The White House reacted positively but skeptically. “Today’s announcement is progress,” said a WH spokesman. If Iran really follows through it “would be a positive step in the right direction.”
A WSJ editorial calls the agreement “largely a fudge, with the hard questions left unanswered.”
The NYT fronts U.S. officials saying they believe top AQ operative Khalid Shaikh Mohammed killed WSJ reporter Danny Pearl. (The Journal reported this yesterday.) The officials didn’t say how they knew that, though Mohammed was captured back in March and is being held by the U.S. somewhere.
The NYT goes inside with an update on the Justice Department’s investigation into the apparent outing of a CIA agent by somebody in the White House: The paper flags congressional testimony from a Justice Dept. official who said that Attorney General Ashcroft is given “regular, detailed briefings” (NYT) on the case. As the Times notes, Ashcroft has repeatedly said that the investigation is being left in the hands of career lawyers and G-people.
Writing a NYT op-ed, foreign policy wonk Alton Frye proposes one way to quickly figure out who the leaker is. Have one of the journalists who received the leak in turn leak, outing the leaker. “Call it counterleaking. Reporters could themselves assume the status of confidential sources and share those names with other journalists. This would be justifiable in moral and political terms, because this counterleak would be serving larger public purposes, not narrow political advantage.”
Miso Selfish … A front-page piece in the Times notices that a New York City corporate lawyer, unhappy with a recent takeout sushi order, asked a paralegal to research other nearby raw fish options. The result spanned three pages, included eight footnotes and two exhibits (menus). Hope your maki rocks, the paralegal concluded. Or as the report stated, “I would hope you find the report helpful in choosing the restaurant from which your dinner will be ordered on a going-forward basis.”