Today's Papers

Amnesty Accepted?

The Los Angeles Timesleads with interim Iraqi Prime Minister Iyad Allawi suggesting he’s going to give amnesty to insurgents, though the details still have to be worked out. The New York Timesleads with security officials preparing for possible terrorism at the conventions; FBI agents have begun interviewing folks in some immigrant communities where they think terrorists might be hanging out. The Washington Postleads with Chinese authorities turning the screws on the doctor who first exposed the government’s SARS coverup and who recently wrote a letter denouncing the Tiananmen massacre. The Post says he is now under constant questioning and is being forced to attend “intense indoctrination classes.” The paperrelies on “sources familiar with the situation” since the Chinese government would only say that “the military has been helping and educating him.”

While the NYT says the FBI is nosing around immigrant neighborhoods as part of its convention counterterrorism effort, the LAT checks in on a previous such promise: In May, Attorney General Ashcroft said that “credible intelligence from multiple sources” suggested that al-Qaida was planning to hit the U.S. “hard,” and he announced that the FBI would start conducting interviews accross the country. Number of interviews conducted so far, says the LAT: zero.

The LAT’s lead emphasizes that it’s unclear whether guerrillas who’ve killed civilians, Iraqi security force members, or GIs will be pardoned. Allawi said anybody responsible for killing will still “be considered a criminal.” (Isn’t this issue somewhat theoretical given Iraq’s less than first-rate forensic capabilities?)  Allawi also said he’s in amnesty negations with radical cleric Muqtada Sadr and his militia. Meanwhile, the Post notices that Sadr is talking tough again. “The truce is ended today,” said a Sadr spokesman. “One of the conditions we put for the truce is that the government should end the occupation. The government did not end the occupation.”

Everybody mentions that an Islamic militant group denied reports attributed to it that the group killed a Marine hostage. Also yesterday, two civilians died when police fired on and detonated a car bomber northeast of Baghdad. Also, a key oil pipeline was sabotaged in northern Iraq.

Writing from Baquba, the LAT’s Edmund Sanders watches some of the new joint patrols between Iraqi police and GIs. He wasn’t impressed. At first, the police didn’t show up. Once they finally sauntered in, “it was a game of red-light-green-light, with the Iraqis staying at least 20 feet away from the U.S. soldiers. When the Americans stopped to allow the Iraqis to catch up, the Iraqis would stop too.”

The NYT’s off-lead says that some of Saddam’s relatives who are living abroad may be helping fund the insurgency. The piece is based on one Iraqi official and unnamed American intelligence officials. But it doesn’t seem to be a plant, or else it’s a smart one. The Iraqi official, a member of the now-deceased Governing Council, alleged the money connections in a recent public speech. The Times then double-checked with the intelligence sources, who supported his contention.

The NYT teases on Page One word that the military is investigating the death of another detainee in Afghanistan, making it five Afghan deaths in U.S. custody now under official scrutiny. The Times’ Carlotta Gall writes that some local officials as well as the victim’s cousin, who was in the same jail at the time, say an Afghan officer at an American base oversaw the detainee’s torture and eventual murder. The military has released few details, though a Pentagon spokesman insisted that the detainee was already “almost dead” when he was brought to the base. The cousin said he himself was also tortured, and he showed Gall burn marks on his stomach.

Gall also uses the potential murder to look at a wider problem: While unsavory Afghan militiamen are often working with the U.S., the Pentagon says it’s not in command of any militiamen and not responsible for actions they take.

The papers follow an upcoming report in TheNew Yorker that Vice President Cheney’s longtime doctor, who declared Cheney fit for office in 2000 and has repeatedly vouched for his health, has long had a pill-popping problem and has recently been fired.

To the point … The Post notices that the Lexington Herald-Leader has just run the following clarification:

“It has come to the editor’s attention that the Herald-Leader neglected to cover the civil rights movement. We regret the omission.”

The apology is accompanied by a lengthy piece exploring the paper’s lack of coverage.