Today's Papers

Gitmo Can Handle the Truth

The New York Times leads with a federal appeals court decision that reversed a lower court’s ban on the Guantanamo Bay war crimes tribunal set up by the Bush administration. A panel of three Republican-appointed judges disputed the findings of the district judge, a Democratic appointee who’d found that the trials violated the Uniform Code of Military Justice, the Geneva Conventions, and the U.S. Constitution. The appellate judges disagreed with all three of these assertions and permitted military officials to continue the prosecutions. Of the 500 Guantanamo Bay detainees, four so far have been charged with war crimes, 12 have been declared eligible for trial, and officials are “prepared to bring charges against dozens of others” if it should become necessary. The Washington Post fronts the tribunal news, but leads with a local story on the Bush government’s proposal to cede 200 acres of federal land to Washington, D.C.—the District would redevelop the areas and benefit from tens of millions of dollars in new tax revenue. The Los Angeles Timesalso leads a local report: After a controversy erupted in California, Gov. Arnold announced that he would cancel his $8 million consulting contract with a corporation that publishes health and bodybuilding magazines. Last year Schwarzenegger vetoed legislation that would have imposed restrictions on the nutritional supplement industry—a primary source of advertising revenue for the magazines.

The NYT fronts an exclusive report on a 2003 State Department memo that has caught the eye of investigators in the CIA leak case.  According to the NYT,the memo, which made its way to the White House around the time of the leak, contained information about the diplomat Joseph Wilson IV’s trip to Niger. Specifically, the memo addressed “how [Wilson] came to be dispatched” on the mission, and “the role of his wife, a CIA officer, in the trip.” Investigators want to know if the memo, which mentioned Wilson’s wife by name, was the original source of the leaked information. Another crucial inquiry concerns exactly when White House officials got the info on Wilson’s trip: Was it before Wilson publicly lambasted the Bush administration for distorting the truth about Iraq’s WMDs, or after?

All three papers front coverage of the London bombings.  The LAT focuses on the chemist authorities have arrested in Egypt. Magdy el-Nashar taught biochemistry at the University of Leeds and is thought to have rented the apartment where the attackers assembled the bombs. El-Nashar may also have been a friend of the fourth bomber—now identified as Lindsey Germaine, a Jamaican-born convert to Islam who attended the same mosque as Richard Reid, the shoe bomber, and Zacarias Moussaoui, the only man charged in the 9/11 attacks. 

The Post’s front, meanwhile, mentions several other suspects—one of them a Pakistani who appears to have snuck into the United Kingdom despite being on a terrorist watch list, and then snuck out again the day before the bombings. Police have no direct proof that the man is connected to the attacks. Camera footage from a subway system shows yet another man conferring with the four bombers before they disperse. After talking to the men for a while, said a witness, this fifth man walked in the other direction, then boarded a train and was gone.

The NYT interviews two Islamic activists in Britain, as well as the neighborhood friends of one of the bombers, Shehzad Tanweer. The men seem to agree that the attackers were not evil men, but had been driven to rage by the great inequalities faced by Muslims in Britain and elsewhere. One man, a practicing psychiatrist, said, “[W]e don’t see two classes of blood; the blood of Iraqis is just as important to us as English blood.” He assured the reporter that he did not condone the bombings. “But when you understand things from that perspective,” he said, “why should we condemn the bombing?’” 

An NYT dispatch from the Ukraine looks at the problem of unsecured conventional explosives—loose TNT, basically—of which there is an estimated 2.5 million tons just sitting around in military bases there, waiting to be stolen. The same is true of weapons in many former Soviet countries. NATO is planning to start a 12-year program this fall to destroy 133,000 tons of ammo, 1.5 million guns, and 1,000 antiaircraft missiles—the largest ever effort to dispose of munitions.

Hogwarsh: The LAT review of the sixth installment of Harry Potter, which debuted in stores at midnight, deserves special attention for its marked failure to actually review the book. Instead of discussion, criticism, or even a bit of plot summary, the writer is content to whine about how “thick” the Potter books are, to grouse over how her copy “arrived a mere 24 hours before deadline,” and to make snide jokes about the ending (“I haven’t cried so hard since Charlotte the Spider died”). The irony is, she probably would’ve liked it.