Today's Papers

Ku Klux Canned

The New York Timesand USA Todaylead with the manslaughter conviction of ex-Klan leader Edgar Ray Killen for the June 22, 1964, killings of three civil rights workers in Mississippi: James Chaney, Andrew Goodman, and Michael Schwerner. Prosecutors had wanted to get Killen for murder, but with most of the witnesses dead, jurors said there just wasn’t the evidence—a problem prosecutors all but acknowledged. The Washington Postleads with a rare Mideast confab between Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon and Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas, where each accused the other of not delivering on promises they made when a truce was announced four months ago. The Los Angeles Timesleads with Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger’s latest, low poll numbers; the governor yesterday reached out and fell on his sword—sort of. “All of us in this building can share blame, all of us, including myself,” Schwarzenegger said at the state Capitol. 

Sharon tagged the Palestinians for not going after militants. According to the LAT, Abbas responded, “This is something I cannot do unless I have something to show my people on the ground,” such as lifting roadblocks and releasing more prisoners. Also yesterday, Israel arrested 52 suspected Islamic Jihad members. The move seems to break Israel’s promise to only go after “ticking bombs.”

The Wall Street Journal goes high with President Bush, in a seemingly last-gasp effort to change Social Security, giving encouraging words to two Republican plans that are opposites: One calls for scaling back benefits, the other for adding private accounts. That later plan is viewed by many Republicans as an “exit strategy,” since it would almost certainly be defeated and then everybody could move on.

The WP and LAT front the Vietnamese prime minister’s White House visit, the first leader of his country to swing by. With protesters outside the meeting, the NYT says the get-together itself was “muted.” But the LAT says the Vietnamese premier got “VIP treatment,” with the president “avoid[ing] tough issues,” such as human rights. As the Journal emphasizes, Bush said he would back Vietnam’s bid to join the WTO. There was also talk of possible low-level military cooperation. Another person the prime minister met with while in D.C.: Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld.

Everybody goes inside with the assassination of another anti-Syrian Lebanese politician. As the NYT notes, the bomb was tiny and expertly placed—the kind of thing few are capable of, except, say, Syrian agents.

The NYT stuffs word of a classified CIA report that says Iraq is, surprise surprise, serving as Terrorist University for the latest generation of jihadists, some of whom will return home eager to show off their new skills. The Times has no quotes from the report; it was described generally to the paper by officials from three “different government organizations.” The latest Newsweek mentions the same report and says CIA analysts refer to the Iraqi alumni issue as the “Class of ‘05 problem.”

A Page One NYT piece looks at Iraqi insurgents’ ever increasing bomb-making abilities. Recently, devices have been showing up with so-called shaped charges, which make them much likelier to penetrate armor. Other bombs have been triggered by lasers. There were 700 bombings against U.S. forces last month, a record.

The NYT says on Page One that the Social Security Administration waived its privacy rules and let some FBI investigators rifle through files after 9/11. The requests “came in by the thousands,” said the department’s former inspector general. “They would give us the names of people suspected of being terrorists for whatever reason, and we’d match them against Social Security indices to see if these people were real.” The privacy advocates quoted in the piece don’t so much object to fact that the files were handed over as to the “ad-hoc” decision to do it.

The papers mention that, after meeting with President Bush, Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist reversed himself and promised to push for another vote for U.N. ambassador nominee John Bolton. “The president made it very clear that he expects an up-or-down vote,” Frist told reporters. “I don’t want to close that door yet.” Unless the White House releases the documents senators have demanded, another vote is unlikely to change a darn thing.

The WP goes above the fold with a profile of a booming industry: lobbying. There are now about 35,000 registered lobbyists in D.C., twice the number in 2000. “We’re trying to take advantage of the fact that Republicans control the House, the Senate and the White House,” said Hewlett-Packard’s top lobby man “There is an opportunity here for the business community to make its case and be successful.”

The WP and LAT front the death of Jack Kilby, inventor of the integrated circuit, aka the microchip. Kilby, 81, was eventually awarded the Nobel Prize for his work. But he refused to take much credit. The Post recounts:

Whenever people would mention that Kilby was responsible for the entire modern digital world, he liked to tell the story of the beaver and the rabbit sitting in the woods near Hoover Dam. “Did you build that one?” the rabbit asked. “No, but it was based on an idea of mine,” the beaver replied.