Today's Papers

Full-on in Fallujah

The New York Times, Washington Post, Wall Street Journal world-wide newsbox, and Los Angeles Timesall lead with the offensive into Fallujah. About 10,000 soldiers and Marines—backed up by 2,000 Iraqi troops—are part of the battle, and it’s not clear yet how it’s going. Two Marines near town drowned when their bulldozer flipped into the Euphrates. No word on casualties. USA Todayfronts the battle, but leads with a study of African-Americans with heart failure that showed a new combo of drugs cut their death rate by nearly half. Though USAT doesn’t dig into it, many researchers said the exclusive focus on African-Americans—to the point where, at least the papers say, FDA might approve the new pill for African-Americans only—is bogus. “All you can tell from the data is that [the drug] works against heart failure,” one scientist told the LAT. “The patients happened to be black, but you can’t make any claims based on the data.”

According to early morning reports, guerrillas killed 45 policemen in Baquba and wounded dozens.

So far, little info is coming from the city. Among the unknowns: the number of GI and Marine casualties (some of the papers say seven wounded, but the LAT says that’s probably a partial count); the number of Iraqi casualties (the LAT quotes a doctor saying 15 dead and 20 wounded, including some civilians); and how many civilians are left in the city. Not everybody conveys that sense of uncertainty: USAT’s subhead: “Two Marines, 42 Insurgents Killed.” The 42 figure comes via “U.S. officials”—and nobody else mentions it.

In its overview piece, the NYT says that as of early this morning, the most forward U.S. unit had advanced 800 yards, while others “took hours to advance past a single line of houses.”

The Times’ Dexter Filkins is embedded with about 150 Marines—who apparently were in the latter group cited above and pinned down. “This is crazy,” said one. “Yeah,” said his buddy, “and we’ve only taken one house.”

In a late-update, the LAT cites witnesses saying the U.S. has bombed the city’s main first-aid clinic

Another unknown is how the Iraqi forces are faring. Everybody flags NPR reporter Anne Garrels’ report that about two-thirds of one 500-man battalion have gone AWOL.

The NYT speaks with a Fallujah resident who that said unlike back in April, the cordon around the city is tight and basically impassable.

Slate’s FredKaplan says the U.S. will win in Fallujah—and things won’t get any better.

In other guerrilla attacks around the country: One GI was killed along with one Brit soldier as were about a dozen Iraqi civilians. The NYT says the U.S. is “losing ground” in the northern city of Mosul, where insurgents “poured out into the streets at a major intersection at 3 p.m. to fire at American troops.”  Two car bombs exploded outside churches in Baghdad and then a mortar round hit outside the hospital where the wounded had been taken. Seven people were believed killed in those attacks. One military official told the NYT the number of bombs against U.S. forces has doubled “recently.”

In a nice move, the Post fronts a dispatch from a freelancer who was with guerrillas in Fallujah until a couple of days ago. He describes the cell he hung with as an Arab rainbow coalition: “Five Saudis, three Tunisians, and a Yemeni. Only three were Iraqis.” But it was the Iraqis who were in charge and the foreigners who were cannon fodder. They all talked big about dying. “I had a vision yesterday that tomorrow I would finally be granted the martyrdom,” said a Saudi. “This is not fair,” replied the Yemeni. “I have been here for months now.”

Most of the papers front a federal judge halting the one ongoing military tribunal at Gitmo, ruling that it doesn’t meet minimum standards of justice or the Geneva Conventions. There were other tribunals planned, and now those are effectively on ice, too. For one thing, the judge said, detainees facing trial haven’t had a “competent tribunal” conclude that they are really enemy combatants. President Bush has ruled that the detainees are, and the administration says that’s good enough. The judge responded, “The President is not a ‘tribunal.’ ” The Justice Department has requested an immediate stay.

The NYT mentions that Fidel Castro, in an apparent attempt to boost currency reserves, has now officially ended the circulation of U.S. dollars on the island. The headline: “CUBA: THE BUCK STOPS.”