Today's Papers

Palace Coop 

According to early morning reports,  two large bombs hit Istanbul, Turkey, one next to the British consulate and one at a British-affiliated bank. At least 27 people were killed.

The New York Times, Los Angeles Times, and Washington Post all lead with what the LAT calls President Bush’s “unyielding” speech in London. In an apparent reference to the invasion of Iraq, Bush said “duty sometimes requires the violent restraint of violent men.” Referring to the Sept. 11 attacks and the threat from terrorists, the president said, “The hope that danger has passed is comforting, is understandable and it is false.” The Wall Street Journal tops its world-wide newsbox with the speech, and headlines, “IN U.K., BUSH STATES CASE FOR WAR, DOWNPLAYS FAILURE TO FIND ARMS.” Apart from the speech, which everybody notes was before a tightly controlled audience, Bush avoided crowds and mostly hung around Buckingham Palace. USA Today leads with word that CIA Director George Tenet has ordered the agency to expand an internal probe that’s looking into why and how the CIA may have missed signs that Saddam Hussein gave up his banned weapons. Tenet told investigators to look at raw intelligence and not just analyses.

Everybody notices inside that Bush took a pot shot at Yasser Arafat, saying, “Leaders in Europe should withdraw all favor and support from any Palestinian ruler who fails his people.” As the Post notes, Britain favors talking with Arafat.

According to early morning reports, a bomb exploded outside the offices of a Kurdish party office in northern Iraq, killing three and wounding at least six. The papers mention inside that an Iraqi provincial official was assassinated yesterday, and a car bomb exploded outside the house of a pro-American tribal leader in Ramadi, killing a child.

The NYT says the White House, after realizing that Iraq’s Shiites are far from a monolithic group and that many of them don’t want an Iranian-influenced theocracy, is no longer so freaked out about the idea of Shiites dominating the country. “Our basic position is that as we get to know more of Iraqi society, we’re more comfortable with a democratic process, and if that emerges with a predominant Shiite role, so be it,” said one unnamed administration official. “There’s been a steady education process here.” (The Associated Press interviewed a Shiite member of the Governing Council who criticized the U.S.’s new plan for Iraqi sovereignty. “The Iraqi people were pushed aside,” he said. “This contradicts the principles of democracy.”)

A Page One Post piece has the latest on this spring’s decision to disband the Iraqi army, considered to be one of the worst moves of the occupation. The Post says the Pentagon had planned to keep paying Iraqi soldiers after the war, but according to the article’s second paragraph, that plan was “stopped abruptly in late May by L. Paul Bremer.” About 25 paragraphs later, the Post clarifies that the idea for the disbanding was more of a joint effort—and approved by higher ups. “This is not something that was dreamed up by somebody at the last minute and done at the insistence of the people in Baghdad. It was discussed,” said one official, who argues it was the right move at the time.

Everybody notices that the U.S. unveiled its new system for awarding rebuilding contracts in Iraq. Twenty five contracts worth a total of $18.7 billion are scheduled to be awarded over the next 10 weeks in a process that one official promised will have “maximum transparency.” The Journal emphasizes that U.S. officials said they’re going to limit bidding to companies from the U.S. and “coalition partners.” The officials didn’t define who counts as a partner.

The NYT fronts word that in a rebuff to the White House, U.N. nuclear inspectors are recommending that the Security Council’s skip censuring Iran. Instead, the inspectors appear to have given their support to a European-sponsored resolution that has lots of tough talk—”deploring” Iran’s deceptions—but no real teeth. 

The WP reports on Page One that House and Senate negotiators ignored veto threats and agreed on a provision that would prevent the FCC from loosening media ownership rules.

The above Post article actually deals with all sorts of goodies that legislators are trying to stuff into the coming $700 billion omnibus bill. As the Post explains, such last-minute massive funding bills are the perfect place to tuck in little bits of pork and unpopular policies. Lawmakers are loath to oppose the bills, which keep the government running and must be accepted or rejected in whole. One example from the current bill: “House leaders are trying to insert a clause that overturns a new federal meat-labeling requirement—even though the House and Senate never agreed on the issue.” House leaders are also pushing, so far unsuccessfully, for the bill to include a White House proposal loosening overtime rules. Finally, the Journal says the bill provides the SEC $30 million less than the administration requested.

Everybody fronts the arrest warrant issued for Michael Jackson on multiple counts of child molestation. As of yesterday, Jackson was in Las Vegas and apparently was preparing to turn himself in to police near his home in Santa Barbara. Jackson denied the charges, through a spokesman.

The Post’s Dana Milbank says that while spending QT with Queen Elizabeth has helped Bush avoid street scruffs, it’s presented him with another unpleasant problem: pomp and circumstance. At a palace dinner, Bush was faced with “seven different 50-year-old crystal wine glasses, three forks, three knives and two spoons, not counting the two itty-bitty spoons for the mustard and the salt.”