The Washington Post leads with a meeting of more than 1,000 Sunni Arab leaders who declared that they are uniting to participate in the political process and aid in the writing of Iraq’s constitution. The speakers at the meeting, who included members of groups that pushed for the boycott of January’s election, urged Sunnis to participate in Iraqi politics. The New York Times leads with a cable sent from the U.S. Embassy in Kabul that partly blamed Afghan President Hamid Karzai, along with British forces, for the ineffectiveness of poppy-eradication programs in Afghanistan. The cable sent to the U.S. secretary of state said that Karzai, along with other Afghan officials, is not asserting strong leadership when faced with opposition to destroying acres of poppy plantations. Karzai is scheduled to visit Washington next week. The Los Angeles Times leads with an analysis of the high stakes at the summit between Iran and Europe scheduled to take place this week in Geneva. This will be the first meeting since Iran threatened to end negotiations with Britain, France, and Germany and continue its uranium-enrichment plans. Although Iran seems determined to continue enriching uranium, Europe’s goal is to delay it as much as possible in order to stave off a conflict between Iran and the United States.
The meeting of Sunni leaders, which the NYT reefers and the LAT stuffs, comes at a time of increasing tensions between Sunni and Shiite Muslims that has raised concern of an escalating conflict. Speakers at the conference accused Iraqi security forces, largely run by Shiites, of perpetrating violence against Sunnis and they demanded the resignation of Iraq’s new interior minister. The minister rejected their demand saying, “Those who didn’t vote have no right to ask for this.” The Sunni leaders issued a statement against “terrorist acts that target civilians, no matter the reason” but went on to say: “resisting the occupier is a legitimate right.”
The NYT fronts the second part to Friday’s story that revealed the Army investigation on the abuse of prisoners at the Bagram airbase in Afghanistan that led to the death of two prisoners. Despite testimony from soldiers that prisoners were being abused and autopsy reports that seemed to support these claims, Army investigators recommended closing the case without filing criminal charges. Although the case was not closed as requested, the investigation was stalled until the NYT reported that at least one of the prisoner’s deaths had been a homicide. Several of the interrogators from Bagram were later sent to Iraq and assigned to work at the Abu Ghraib prison.
All the papers go inside with the announcement by Afghanistan President Hamid Karzai that he is shocked by the reports of prisoner abuse published in the NYT and he will demand to take over custody of all Afghan prisoners. All the papers, except the LAT, rely on a wire story.
The NYT buries in the last two sentences of its lead story the news that a U.S. soldier was killed and three were wounded in southern Afghanistan on Saturday.
The WP fronts the first of a two-part investigation into waste in the contracting process at the Department of Homeland Security. After the attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, the newly created agency received a lot of money, tight deadlines, and a small contracting staff, which resulted in unnecessary spending, ineffective programs, and often huge profits for contractors. For example, the contract for new airport screeners increased from $104 million to $741 million in less than a year, and the screenings have not improved significantly since right after the attacks on Washington and New York. Last year, the Government Accountability Office issued a confidential report that described the Homeland Security Department as having a “high risk” of failure.
The LAT fronts an 8,000-word investigation into whether a California man was wrongfully convicted of a murder that took place 22 years ago. Bruce Lisker was convicted of killing his mother, Dorka, when he was 17. The LAT painstakingly reconstructs the case and successfully illustrates (often by linking to documents and audio) the shortcomings with much of the evidence and arguments that convicted Lisker. In the process of their investigation the LAT reporters uncovered some new evidence that had not been considered during the trial.
The NYT fronts a look into the approaching “climax” of the Senate filibuster debate and says no one seems to be winning from this fight. The arguments over the “nuclear option,” coupled with the ethics debacles and the intervention in the Terri Schiavo case, are hurting American’s opinion of Congress. According to polls, the public’s view of Congress is close to what it was in 1995 during the government shutdown. An article in WP’s Outlook section claims that a “degradation in the culture of the Senate” that has been taking place since 1989 is what led to the current deadlock. The obsession with the filibuster demonstrates how Senators are not spending time with issues that voters truly care about, such as Medicare, taxes, and health insurance. Meanwhile the LAT goes inside with a look at how the White House is publicly staying out of the filibuster debate but is lobbying Senators privately.
Breaking news from the WP … The WP fronts a story on how prosecutors are finding it harder to convict criminal cases because jurors who are used to watching CSI: Crime Scene Investigation expect to have clear forensic evidence, just like in the show. Sound familiar? It should. Talk of the so-called “CSI Effect” has been around for quite some time. A small sample: Time had a story that mentioned it on Oct. 21, 2002, the Boston Globe Magazine had it on Feb. 9, 2003, USA Today mentioned the “CSI Effect” in a story on Aug. 5 of last year, and U.S. News & World Report had it as its cover story on April 25 of this year. And there really are so much more. This isn’t even the first time it has been mentioned in the WP’s own pages. On May 1, the Style section printed an AP story (the same story reprinted on the CNN Web site because the WP doesn’t have it for free anymore) on how students learn the differences between the real CSI and the TV show—of course, mentioning and explaining the dreaded “CSI Effect.”