Today's Papers

Dangerous Diplomacy

The Los Angeles Timesand New York Timeslead with insurgents, in separate attacks, ambushing Pakistan’s top envoy and Bahrain’s chief diplomat in Iraq. The Bahraini envoy was wounded, and the Pakistani diplomat was immediately shipped off to safety in Jordan. The attacks come a few days after the kidnapping of Egypt’s top envoy, who had been set to become the first Arab ambassador to the post-Saddam government. The intimidation drive appears to be working. As the LAT notices, Jordan said it won’t be sending any diplomats until Iraq offers the “right security environment.” The Washington Postleads with a public but little-noticed Pentagon paper outlining the military’s new stance on homeland defense. Though the strategy paper emphasizes that the military’s role is only to help out civilian authorities, it also enumerates a few policies that spook civil libertarians, particularly the part about how military intel analysts will buddy up with civilian counterparts to ID suspected terrorists. USA Todayleads with the increasingly decrepit state of the Coast Guard’s fleet. The number of unscheduled maintenance calls last year was about three times what it was in 1999. The Coast Guard is “operating at the level, in many instances, of a Third World navy,” said one analyst. Though USAT doesn’t put in the headline, the paper says the White House wants to cut back a modernization plan, proposing to stretch it over an extra five years to 25 years in total. The average Coast Guard cutter is 37 years old.

The Wall Street Journal’s world-wide newsbox goes highmore with Supreme Court speculation, guessing that conservatives’ consternation about Attorney General Alberto Gonzales might make him more confirmable—since liberals will hear that criticism and figure Gonzales can’t be all that bad—and thus make him a more appealing pick for President Bush.

The NYT off-leads Republican Senate aides and the White House telling conservative groups to stop beating on Gonzales and to avoid hot button topics such as abortion. Better, argued the aides, to stick to calls for a “fair” confirmation process. Apparently Focus on the Family didn’t get the memo. The Times says the conservative org sent the following e-mail last night to supporters: “Bush Defends Gonzales. Some conservatives wonder if attorney general is right for Supreme Court.””

A USAT reporter—admirably—actually went on a patrol with the Coast Guard cutter Decisive, which isn’t exactly in tip-top shape:

It’s week three of a six-week patrol, and the Decisive has a fuel pump leak, a broken water heater, haphazard radar and global-positioning system, faulty air conditioning, a major hydraulic leak in a patrol boat, high-frequency radios that don’t work and a broken anchor winch.

But it would have been useful to know how the reporter choose the Decisive. Was just a random pick? Is the Decisive known for its problems and chosen because of that? Or, worst of all, did Coast Guard flacks pick it figuring it’s the best of the litter?

Everybody mentions that the prosecutor in the case of the outing of a CIA agent now says that even though Time Inc. handed over reporter Matthew Cooper’s notes, Cooper still has to talk as does the NYT’s Judith Miller. Both journalists have said they’re keeping mum. A judge could well rule this afternoon to send them to the slammer.

The LAT goes Page One with a 9/11 mini-scoop: A now-jailed Moroccan cleric who has been connected to last year’s bombings in Madrid as well as the 2003 attacks in Casablanca also turns out to have been friendly with some of the 9/11 hijackers. He’s the first person known to be connected the three attacks. The Times caught a clip of one of the cleric’s sermons; he preached that all non-Muslims should be killed, “no matter if it’s a man, a woman, or a child.”

TheNYT fronts—and LAT goes Metro with—the case of Cyrus Kar, a Persian-American aspiring documentary filmmaker who’s being held by U.S. forces in Iraq, though they haven’t charged him and at least officially won’t say a darn thing about it. Unofficially, an unnamed military official said Kar was found with “dozens” washing-machine timers, often used to make roadside bombs. *

The Post notices inside that although the U.S. signed an international tobacco treaty 13 months ago, the White House hasn’t gotten around to sending it to the Senate for ratification. “The treaty is still under interagency review,” a State Department spokesman explained. And when might that be completed? “No decision has been made,” said the spokesman. 

The NYT fronts a report on shamed lobbyist Jack Abramoff’s restaurant, Signatures, where he comped congressional Republicans aplenty despite ethics rules making that, in most cases, a no-no. The Times got ahold of a purported customer list in which some lawmakers were designated as “FOO Comp,” that is friend-of-owner.

Writing an op-ed in the NYT, Slate contributor Phil Carter notices one thing President Bush has not done to help shore up the military: “He has never made a recruiting speech.”

The LAT details the case of Tank, a pit bull mix who arrived at a Humboldt, Calif., animal hospital acting spaced out and with a mouth full of baking soda. Turns out, Tank had enjoyed some very magical cookies. As the dog’s owner explained to the vet, “The dog ate some pot—kind of a lot of pot.” Apparently that’s, ahem, a budding problem in marijuana-friendly Humboldt, where supposedly a few dosed dogs are treated every week. And what about that baking soda? Tank “had the munchies,” explained the doc.

* Correction, July 8, 2005: This article incorrectly stated that a New York Times story about a Persian-American filmmaker detained in Iraq did not mention suspected bomb parts he was found with until the 11th paragraph. In fact, the Times made reference to the alleged bomb parts in the second paragraph. Click here to return to the corrected paragraph.