Today's Papers

Spies Like U.S.

The Wall Street Journal world-wide newsbox and USA Today lead with the latest from Iraq, where three days before the election a series of bombings and mortar attacks killed 11 Iraqis along with one Marine. Early this morning, a car bomb in Baghdad killed another four civilians. Also, insurgents released a video showing the execution of an Iraqi who had been a low-level candidate on interim Prime Minister Iyad Allawi’s slate. Another five GIs and Marines were wounded in fighting just south of Baghdad. The Los Angeles Timesleads with word that the FBI is “significantly expanding” its effort to collect foreign intel inside the U.S.—via cozying up with foreign nationals and such. Apparently that’s a job once reserved for the CIA, which is allowed to do that kind of work if it keeps in touch with the Feds. The piece lends a lot of space to Agency spooks kvetching about how the FBI is stepping on their turf, and its main conclusions are based on “intelligence and congressional sources.”

The Washington Postleads with D.C.-based Riggs Bank agreeing to one felony count and a $16 million fine for having turned a blind eye to likely money-laundering by former Chilean dictator Augusto Pinochet and others. The New York Timesleads with a newsless sitdown with President Bush, who said the U.S. would pull out of Iraq if the new government asks, which he said it won’t. (And he’s probably right.) Former Secretary of State Powell made the same semi-offer a few months ago, as did  former Iraq boss Paul Bremer. Anyway, Bush “appeared more relaxed than he was in August, when he was last interviewed by the Times, in a changing area off a men’s room.”

Iraq has gone into what the LAT calls a “three-day national lockdown.” The borders will be closed, as will most companies; there will also be dusk-to-dawn curfews, and starting tomorrow, no open roads.

The WP counts the number of accredited foreign observers on hand: one—”and she is expected to remain in Baghdad’s heavily fortified Green Zone.”

The Journal mentions a poll in which 50 percent of respondents said that the elections won’t be legit (39 percent said they would be). That’s of Americans, not Iraqis.

The LAT and WP notice inside that Sen. Edward Kennedy joined the (phased) pull-out-of-Iraq position, making him the biggest politician to do so. (Yes, literally.) Other prominent Dems pooh-poohed the idea, with Sen. Biden dubbing it “counterproductive.”

Everybody mentions that the Bush administration abandoned its bid to get the Supreme Court to overturn a lower court injunction against relaxed media ownership regs. In other words, the administration is giving up for now on the looser rules.

The papers all mention the increasingly toasty relations between Israel and Palestinian officials. Citing the possibility of a “historical breakthrough,” Prime Minister Sharon said, “I am very satisfied with what I hear is happening on the Palestinian side.” Meanwhile, Palestinian officials said non-government gunmen won’t be allowed to saunter around the streets with their weapons anymore.

Auschwitz,Lambeau Field, same deal … Vice President Cheney was at Auschwitz to mark the 60th anniversary of its liberation. “He was dressed in the kind of attire one typically wears to operate a snow blower,” says Post fashionista Robin Givhan. “Like other attendees, the vice president was wearing a hat. But it was not a fedora or a Stetson or a fur hat or any kind of hat that one might wear to a memorial service as the representative of one’s country. Instead, it was a knit ski cap. It is also worth mentioning that Cheney was wearing hiking boots—thick, brown, lace-up ones.” (Requisite, priceless photo.)