The New York Times and the Los Angeles Timeslead with—and the Washington Post prominently fronts—breaking news of the bombings in the Egyptian resort town of Sharm el-Sheik, where by late counts at least 62 people have been killed and 119 more injured—more than a few mortally, according to authorities. Bombs exploded near a crowded marketplace, a taxi stand, and several hotels—all locations with heavy Arab and European tourist traffic. (In recent years, terrorists have frequently attacked popular tourist spots.) There was no immediate claim of responsibility for the bombings, but the LAT notes that the violence came a day before a hearing was to take place for suspects in a similar resort bombing last October. The Post leads with—and the others front—the London police’s fatal shooting of a man they described as “directly linked” to Thursday’s attempted transit bombings. Friday morning the suspect, a South Asian man clad in a heavy winter coat, left a house that was under active surveillance. Police followed him, but he spotted them and fled into a subway station in the south London neighborhood of Stockwell. According to witnesses, the man scrambled onto a train with plainclothes officers in hot pursuit. He then “half tripped and was half pushed to the floor,” where he was swarmed by officers, and shot five times at close range. Police announced later in the day that the man had not been carrying a bomb.
British police may have been given guidelines to use lethal force in potential suicide bombing situations. The Financial Times offers some more detail, saying the policy advises police “to shoot to the head and not the body in case the suspect has a bomb.” Most British police do not carry guns, so this unusually deadly policy has some Britons—especially Muslims—worried. “We are getting phone calls from quite a lot of Muslims who are distressed about what may be a shoot to kill policy,” said a spokesman for the Muslim Council of Britain.
Near the sight of the subway shooting, SWAT-like teams of police were sweeping through neighborhoods, closing streets and battering down doors. Later in the evening, authorities announced that they’d arrested a man—also in Stockwell—who an official said was “one of the would-be bombers [police] were hunting for” (NYT’s words).
The LAT joins the Post in fronting the latest on the CIA leak inquiry, which may be taking a new tack. Instead of focusing on the legality of the leak itself, special prosecutor Patrick Fitzgerald appears to be examining sworn testimony of White House officials for evidence of perjury. According to a Post source, vice presidential adviser I. Lewis Libby testified before a grand jury that he learned the name of Valerie Plame from NBC’s Tim Russert. Russert has flatly denied this, saying he “did not know Plame’s name or that she was a CIA operative.”
Similarly, top Bush adviser Karl Rove told a grand jury that in their chat, he and Time reporter Matthew Cooper were mostly talking about welfare reform, and that the Plame topic was a kind of afterthought. But Cooper “can’t find any record” of the welfare conversation, and “doesn’t recall” discussing it with Rove.
(The LAT also notes the important legal distinction between out-and-out outing a covert CIA agent to a reporter, and confirming that someone is a covert CIA agent to a reporter who’s asked. Aspects of the law governing the first instance make it more difficult to prove a crime was committed, which is why prosecutors may be looking more carefully at the second.)
The NYT runs an up-close-and-personal on Jane Roberts, the wife of Supreme Court nominee John G. Roberts. Mrs. Roberts, the article explains, is a staunch foe of abortion, having volunteered her legal services to the anti-abortion group Feminists for Life—among whose stated goals is the reversal of Roe v. Wade. The article also notes that the Robertses, both Catholic, have helped one another deepen their faith.
Citing national security and what the Post calls “presidential prerogatives,” Vice President Dick Cheney attempted to convince rogue Republicans not to sponsor legislation that would prohibit military personnel from engaging in “cruel, inhuman” treatment of prisoners, and prevent them from using unapproved interrogation techniques. The new legislation, drafted largely by Sen. John McCain, would be part of the upcoming $442B defense bill. The White House suggested that if the prisoner welfare language was present in the big bill, the president would probably veto the whole thing.
Fool Me Once: Bringing to fruition the predictions of a 10-month-old Slate article, this NYT report finds Da Ali G Show creator Sasha Baron Cohen in a jam. He’s having more and more trouble finding people who don’t recognize him. Both politicians and normal people are more likely to ask Baron Cohen for an autograph than they are to grant Borat an interview.