Today's Papers

Kay Mas?

The Los Angeles Times, Wall Street Journal world-wide newsbox, and USA Today lead with former top weapons searcher David Kay’s congressional testimony that, as the LAT puts it, pre-war intel on Iraq was “fundamentally flawed but was not deliberately distorted.” As USAT notes in a near-banner headline, Kay said, “We were almost all wrong, and I certainly include myself here.” The Washington Post also leads with Kay but emphasizes that after being prompted by Sen. John McCain, Kay agreed that there should be an independent investigation into the intel failure: “I must say, my personal view, and it’s purely personal, is that in this case you will finally determine that it is going to take an outside inquiry.” The New York Times off-leads Kay’s inquiry comment (and leaves the actual quote until the 36th paragraph, the kicker). Instead, the Times leads with—and everybody else fronts—news that Howard Dean pushed out his campaign manager and Internet swami, Joe Trippi, replacing him with a former telecom lobbyist who the Post calls Al Gore’s “right-hand man.” The Times also emphasizes Dean’s apparent money problems, saying that of the $40 million he’s raised, he has $5 million left and has reportedly asked his staff to skip their paychecks for a couple of weeks. Dean’s people say they’re still raising what the NYT describes “as much as $200,000” per day.

The LAT and USAT both catch late-breaking news that a suicide bomber attacked a bus in Jerusalem near Prime Minister Sharon’s official residence, killing at least 10 and wounding about 50. Early yesterday, eight Palestinians were killed in Gaza, both militants and civilians, during a firefight with Israeli soldiers.

When Kay was asked whether the White House pressured intel agencies, he replied, “I deeply think that is the wrong explanation. I wish it had been undue influence because we know how to correct that.” As the papers note, many CIA analysts disagree.

While the NYT says there are “some indications” of infighting within the White House about whether to agree to an independent inquiry, President Bush punted, saying the weapons search team needs to “do its work so we can find out the facts and compare the facts to what was thought.”

In an interview in yesterday’s Post, Kay said inspectors have actually found evidence that Saddam destroyed at least some of his chemical and biological stockpiles in the mid-1990s—a fact that Saddam apparently hid from U.N. inspectors in an attempted bluff. “If the weapons programs existed on the scale we anticipated we would have found something that leads to that conclusion,” Kay said. “Instead, we found other evidence that points to something else.”

One Republican Senate staffer told today’s Post that it is “unlikely” the weapons search team will finish by the November elections. The White House’s strategy, he said, is to “just kick the can down the road.”

Everybody but USAT fronts a British judicial inquiry’s conclusion that Prime Minister Blair aides didn’t purposely exaggerate pre-war intel. The inquiry also found that the BBC’s report that made that allegation was “unfounded” and that the Beeb’s overall editorial process was “defective.” The network’s chairman immediately resigned—and then criticized the report, saying the while some of the points are spot on, the “bald conclusions” are contradicted by the report’s evidence.

The Post­—alone among the papers—actually digs into the report and suggests that the guy has a point. For instance, the story notes that while British intel services had stated that Saddam was “prepared to use chemical and biological weapons if he believes his regime is under threat,” Blair’s public dossier dropped the caveat and simply stated that Saddam “is willing to use chemical and biological weapons.” (Bonus coverage: A parliamentary report last year cleared Blair’s government—and also suggested that the government overstated some intel. The most comprehensive take on the Brit intel issue that TP has seen was published last month in TheNew Yorker.)

The WP fronts word that despite his earlier opposition, Secretary of Defense Rumsfeld has authorized the Army to temporarily grow by 30,000 troops. A Pentagon official said the increase will probably come via bonuses to induce soldiers to re-up and via so-called “stop-loss” orders requiring others to stay put.  

The papers note inside that a British soldier was killed in Afghanistan yesterday by a suicide bomber—the second such attack in as many days.

A front-page WP piece says that drug makers are refusing to disclose the results of studies about anti-depressants and children—citing trade secrets. According to people who’ve seen the studies, the data indicate that the drugs are no more effective than placebos.Companies aren’t required to release studies they fund.“If the companies wanted to publish negative studies they could, but companies don’t like to publish negative studies,” said a top FDA researcher. While the WP focuses on adolescents— “ANTIDEPRESSANT MAKERS WITHHOLD DATA ON CHILDREN”—isn’t this a larger issue?

History lessons… From the Post: “A Jan. 28 headline incorrectly characterized potential locations for future U.S. military bases. Bases may be put in Bulgaria, Poland and Romania, which were part of the Soviet-led Warsaw Pact but were not Soviet republics.”