The New York Timesleads with and others front the White House effectively pulling its support for a law that requires local phone companies to lease their lines to competitors at reduced rates. A federal court has invalidated the law, and the Justice Department announced that it’s ending its appeal. The administration said the move is just based on sound economics: The subsidies are inefficient and unnecessary. Consumer advocates, and long distance companies, complained that it will actually thwart competition. The WP and NYT note somebody else who opposed the decision: Karl Rove. The move probably means higher phone bills, and apparently Rove doesn’t think that will play well. The Los Angeles Timesleads with a poll showing Sen. Kerry leading President Bush 48 percent to 42 percent, with Nader at 4 percent. Fifty-six percent of respondents said the country “needs to move in a new direction.” Still, Bush’s approval rating was steady at 50 percent, and he is leading or tied in three key swing states: Ohio, Wisconsin, and Missouri. The Washington Postleads with the body of former president Reagan arriving in the Capitol Rotunda. About 150,000 mourners are expected to view his casket. The state funeral will be tomorrow. The Wall Street Journal tops its worldwide news box and USA Todayleads withthe G-8 summit, where President Bush called for, and France opposed, a bigger role for NATO in Iraq. The NYT plays down the policy spat and emphasizes Bush’s excitement over meeting Iraq’s new president. “I never thought I’d be sitting next to an Iraqi president of a free country a year and a half ago,” said Bush. “It’s been a proud day for me.”
The NYT goes inside with Iraq’s interim prime minister saying that Iraq will abide by the interim constitution and its support of Kurdish autonomy … at least until elections next year. Kurdish leaders had threatened to secede if the interim constitution wasn’t endorsed. The constitutional clause in question essentially gives Kurds veto power, and Shiite leaders say they’ll cut it out next year.
Everybody mentions inside that two oil pipelines in northern Iraq were sabotaged. The attacks come after insurgents went after a major power plant this past weekend, raising concern that guerrillas are making a summer push to disrupt the energy grid. Also, gunmen from Muqtada Sadr’s militia ignored a cease-fire and attacked a police station in Najaf.
The WP reports on Page One that interrogators at Gitmo were given access to prisoners’ medical files, a move that apparently violates the Geneva Conventions and medical ethics. Asked what purpose the files could serve interrogators, one psychiatrist who worked at Gitmo said, “Nothing good.” One bit the Post could have added: It’s been widely reported that the U.S. has occasionally low-balled the dosage of pain-killers given wounded prisoners. “Pain control is a very subjective thing,” one official told the Post a while back.
The WP and NYT say inside that the general overseeing the investigation into military intelligence’s role in the Abu Ghraib abuses has asked to be replaced by a higher-ranking commander. The move, which needs to be approved by Defense Secretary Rumsfeld, comes after the general said he wanted to interview the commander in charge of Iraq, a move he’s not allowed to make since that commander has more stars. There has also been growing criticism that the various investigations have conflicts of interest and are too narrow.
The Post goes inside with a look at the 24 interrogation techniques approved for use in Gitmo. Turns out the techniques, which the military has declined to release, are similar to ones approved for use elsewhere, such as sleep deprivation. And at least the list itself doesn’t approach the kind of torture that administration memos have argued is permissible. [Note: The e-mail version of yesterday’s TP said that a WSJ link to one of the memos was closed to non-subscribers. In fact, the memo was and is available elsewhere on the site.]
The Associated Press interviews the departing American general who had been in charge of training Iraqi forces and says the effort flopped. “We’ve had almost one year of no progress,” he said.
According to early morning reports, 11 Chinese workers were killed by gunmen in Afghanistan.
A Grave Dis … The NYT’s off-lead says that while Libyan leader Muammar Qaddafi was cozying up to the U.S. last year, his intelligence service was planning to assassinate Saudi Arabia’s ruler. While the Times plays the story big, relying on the testimony of two men who say they were involved in the plot, other papers play down the plot inside. The Journal explains, “The precise nature of the evidence and the level of its reliability couldn’t be determined.” In any case, the suspected whack-job plan apparently came after Qaddafi accused Crown Prince Abdullah at an Arab summit of being a sellout for letting American troops hang around. Abdullah didn’t enjoy that and shot back, “Your lies precede you and your grave is in front of you.”