Today's Papers

Everything’s Just Speechy

Everybody leads with President Bush’s effort last night to buck up the American public and get them to stay behind the war effort in Iraq. The president repeatedly invoked the larger battle against jihadism, aka the War on Terrorism. Referring to the “many terrorists who kill innocent men, women, and children on the streets of Baghdad,” the president said, “There is only one course of action against them: to defeat them abroad before they attack us at home.” As the Wall Street Journal notes, “U.S. commanders say the insurgency appears to be mostly homegrown.”

Bush gave a nod toward the long, hard slog ahead, but he did not introduce any changes in strategy or new initiatives—unless you count the presidential premiere of a Web site: Slate’s Fred Kaplan proclaims the speech great on clarifying the stakes and “even vaguer and lamer than usual” on the actual strategy.

The Los Angeles Timesadds up the numbers: Bush said “terror” or “terrorism” 34 times, and “Sept. 11th” earned six invocations.

The New York Times’ coverage—courtesy of David Sanger—is actually saucier. A taste from up high: “Offering no new strategies in a war that has now stretched for 25 months, with no diminishing of attacks on American forces …”

One thing Sanger skips: A recent CIA report said Iraq isn’t just attracting terrorists, it’s riling them up and giving them a quite comprehensive training ground. The report gets a bit of play in a Washington Post fact-check piece. It’s the only stand-alone, fact-check effort TP sees in the papers, and WP runs it on A15. Instead, what makes the Post’s Page One is another insightful installment in that always-provocative newspaper genre, the news analysis: ” ‘LESSONS OF SEPT. 11’ AGAIN TAKE CENTER STAGE.”

About a dozen Iraqis were killed in insurgent attacks yesterday. Among the dead was Iraq’s oldest legislator. He was assassinated when a suicide car bomb rammed his car. Two GIs were also killed in attacks.

A wire piece in the Journal says an Iraqi journalist was apparently killed by GIs after he didn’t pull over as their convoy was passing; it is reportedly the third such killing of an Iraqi journalist in the last week.

The NYT does some people-on-the-street interviews in Baghdad and finds that  even some Sunnis don’t want the U.S. to skedaddle any time soon. “What Iraqis need is an improvement in security, whether it is done by American or Iraqi forces,” said one appliance-shop worker.

The Post alone fronts the apparent downing of a U.S. transport helicopter in Afghanistan; 17 soldiers were onboard. The military says the Chinook appears to have been shot down. Fighting in Afghanistan has been picking up in the past few months.

According to federal auditors cited inside the NYT, the State Department isn’t doing a good job of stopping passport fraud. In a test, the auditors submitted passport applications with the names of 67 bad guys. “More than 30” (NYT’s loopy wording) made it through, including nine murder suspects and one guy on the FBI’s most-wanted list.

As the WP off-leads, Canada’s legislature gave nationwide approval to same-sex marriage. Lower courts had already opened up same-sex marriages in eight of Canada’s 10 provinces.

The NYT fronts and others tease the Senate’s passage of a White House-backed energy bill; months ago the House passed a very different version of the bill—one even friendlier to the energy industry—so, now the two shall meet in conference, a place the Journal says has been a “graveyard” for two previous versions of the bills.

The NYT fronts an international consortium’s announcement that France has won the bidding to build the world’s first large-scale fusion reactor, an estimated $10 billion endeavor that may—or may not—help solve the world’s energy issues. It’s something of a long-shot. Says the Times: “Few scientists expect a fusion reactor to generate commercially viable electricity before mid-century, if by then.”

According to piece inside the NYT, the Pentagon has nominated or promoted two Army officers who were key players in Iraq interrogation policies during the Abu Ghraib scandal. An independent inquiry criticized the two, but an Army report cleared them.

Everybody fronts a jury clearing HealthSouth Corp founder Richard Scrushy of all the fraud charges against him. The government had accused Scrushy of masterminding a $2.7 billion scam. He was the first exec to be indicted under the tougher disclosure laws passed after Enron’s collapse. All five of the HealthSouth’s former financial execs had testified against him. “God is good,” Scrushy said upon exiting court, which was in his hometown. “Jesus taught us how to love each other. We’ve got to have compassion, folks, because you don’t know who’s going to be attacked next.”