Today's Papers

Veep Peek Week

Citing “Democratic sources,” the Washington Post’slead says that Sen. Kerry is set to unveil his running mate this morning. The Associated Press reported that Sen. John Edwards interrupted a family vacation to meet with Kerry late last week, though the Wall Street Journal, which also goes with the Veep Sweeps, reports that “insider buzz swirled heavily around a Gephardt choice”—whatever that means. The New York Timesleads with a limited tease of the Senate intelligence committee report on Iraq’s missing WMD. The Times says the report concludes that relatives of Iraqi scientists told the CIA that Iraq had abandoned its banned weapons programs but that the CIA purportedly didn’t pass that along to President Bush. A CIA spokesman countered, “No useful information was collected from the family members, and that’s why it wouldn’t have been disseminated.” The Los Angeles Timesleads with criticism of the Pentagon’s counterinsurgency efforts in Iraq, with many arguing that there’s no overall strategy. USA Today leads with U.S. military figures backing up previous estimates that less than 2 percent of the suspected guerrillas currently detained in Iraq are foreigners. A piece inside the paper says that the military singled out foreign detainees for harsh treatment, believing they were behind the insurgency.

The NYT’s lead—”C.I.A. HELD BACK IRAQI ARMS DATA, U.S. OFFICIALS SAY; President Not Informed”—forgets a wee bit of context regarding the Senate committee report that the assertions are based on: The committee is Republican-controlled. And as the Times put it last fall: “Democrats fear that [Committee Chairman] Senator Roberts and other Republicans on the panel want to blame the C.I.A. for producing faulty intelligence on Iraq to shield President Bush and his top advisers from charges that they exaggerated the Iraqi threat.” Also, before the war, Vice President Cheney and some others in the White House seem to have pushed the CIA and other intelligence agencies, which they thought were being too conservative in their conclusions about Saddam’s supposed WMD stockpiles and programs.

One other note about the Times’ lead: The spitballs aimed at the CIA are attributed to “government officials.” According to the Times’ recently ratcheted-up sourcing policy, “Whenever anonymity is granted, it should be the subject of energetic negotiation to arrive at phrasing that will tell the reader as much as possible about the placement and motivation of the source.” (The underline is in the original.)

The LAT’s lead says some of the criticism of the military’s tactics comes from “top Bush administration officials,” though none of them are actually quoted. Meanwhile, some of the problems listed by the Times don’t really seem to be the military’s fault. To take one small example, the decision to—briefly—take off the gloves and go into Fallujah, which the piece cites, appears to have been ordered by the White House.

While foreign jihadists don’t seem to be in Iraq in large numbers—as USAT’s lead suggests—Time magazine offers evidence that they are having a significant impact. The magazine, which has had some of the best behind-the-scenes reporting on the insurgency, has a video made by jihadists who taped the planning and carrying out of various attacks, including some major suicide bombings.

Everybody mentions an Islamic militant group’s announcement that the Marine they recently kidnapped is now in a “place of safety” after he promised to abandon the military. A Pentagon spokesman said that the corporal had been on “an unauthorized absence” when he was kidnapped.

Also in Iraq, the U.S. bombed a suspected Islamic militant safe house in Fallujah, reportedly killing between five and 15 people. It was the fifth airstrike in the city in the past few weeks. And two American helicopter pilots were wounded after their craft came under fire.

The Journal goes high with U.S. trade negotiators essentially opposing the proliferation of generic drugs, even though the lower-cost pills are considered crucial for fighting AIDS and other illnesses. The revised position is very similar to the drug industry’s stance. Currently, less than 10 percent of people who are HIV-positive are getting the pills they need.

It also leaves open the possibility of strained speculation … From the Post:

The senator from Massachusetts has kept his vice presidential decision-making shrouded in secrecy, and conjecture about who is the leading contender has shifted several times recently. That leaves open the possibility that he could pick one of several Democrats believed to be finalists.