Everyone leads with news of the coordinated strikes by insurgents across Iraq yesterday that killed more than 100. Three U.S. soldiers died. The attacks—which struck Fallujah, Ramadi, Baquba, Mosul, and Baghdad—consisted of car bombings and raids by masked guerillas. The fighters were apparently Shiite and Sunni radicals united by a desire to destabilize the country before the June 30 transfer of power. According to U.S. authorities, Abu Musab Zarqawi, the Jordanian terrorist behind the recent wave of bombings and kidnappings, played a significant role in the attacks.
The Wall Street Journal’s lead notes that the violence places the U.S. in an awkward situation during the final days before June 30. Iraq’s soon-to-be sovereign government is planning a broad security crackdown and will likely ask U.S. troops to provide the “muscle.” But U.S. commanders are reluctant to participate in any action that curtails individual liberties.
The Los Angeles Times off-leads with the Supreme Court’s 7-2 decision to send back to a lower court a ruling that would have required Vice President Dick Cheney to hand over documents relating to his private energy task force. Although the court did not throw out the suit, any new decision is now likely months away. The ruling defuses a potentially embarrassing situation for the White House in the crucial months before the election.
The New York Times and Washington Post front the Cheney story but play the Supreme Court’s decision on jury sentencing more prominently, above the fold. The 5-4 ruling, which defied the court’s usual ideological split, held that judges in Washington state cannot impose sentences longer than those normally mandated for a crime, unless a jury considers the facts leading to a longer sentence. The NYT notes that the justices have been arguing for five years over the different role juries and judges should play in sentencing. The Post notes that the decision leaves the future of federal sentencing guidelines uncertain.
The LAT and the NYT front a federal appeals court ruling that holds the FCC failed to justify its relaxed media-ownership rules. The decision will delay big media companies’ plans for expansion. The LAT’s above-the-fold story notes that the ruling constitutes a major victory for an odd coalition of interest groups—from the NRA to NOW—that opposed media consolidation on the grounds that it would lead to fewer independent voices in the public sphere.
USA Today fronts a poll it conducted with CNN and Gallup showing that a majority of Americans now think the Iraq war was a mistake and that the war has made America more vulnerable to terrorism. The paper notes that just three weeks ago nearly 60 percent of Americans did not think the invasion was a mistake. The latest poll marks the first time since Vietnam a majority of Americans have considered a major foreign deployment a mistake.
The Post has a below-the-fold story on new efforts by Iran to build the equipment necessary for nuclear weapons. Yesterday’s announcement from Tehran does not violate any treaties, which means the country can make centrifuges to be used for nuclear energy. But the announcement was a setback for the international community, which has been pushing Iran to curtail its nuclear program. The move breaks an agreement Iran signed with France, Germany and the U.K. to suspend its nuclear program in exchange for potential trade benefits with the EU.