Today's Papers

Bawl and Cheney?

Citing the ever-helpful “lawyers involved in the case,” the New York Times’ lead says Scooter Libby learned about CIA agent Valerie Plame from one Dick Cheney, who in turn heard about her from then-CIA chief George Tenet. Apparently Libby took notes about the conversation with his boss, Cheney. That seems to set up Libby for a world of hurt: Word is, Libby previously testified that he learned of Plame from journalists. The Washington Post, Wall Street Journal business box, Los Angeles Times, and USA Todayall lead with the president’s pick of a top economic adviser and academic superstar, Ben Bernanke, to replace Alan Greenspan as Fed Chairman. A former Fed governor, non-ideologue—and get this, advocate for more openness in government—Bernanke’s nomination was met with joy by nearly everyone, including Wall Street.

Cheney had apparently queried Tenet—a month before Plame’s husband, Joseph Wilson, went public with his criticism of the White House. Cheney reportedly wasn’t told that Plame was an undercover agent. Anyway, none of this means that Cheney, or for that matter Tenet, necessarily did anything wrong. But it does raise some questions: For example, Cheney spoke to the special prosecutor back last year. Did he mention the chat with Libby? 

As a piece inside the Post details, Bush had once been toying with the idea of appointing more of an ideologue to replace Greenspan. “I don’t think there’s any question that [the Miers fight] had a lot to do with” the president’s decision to go with the safer pick of Bernanke, said one conservative economist. “When your team is on a losing streak, you schedule a game with a cream puff opponent. Then you go with the hot hand.”

Even the NYT’s editorial page kvells about Bernanke, calling him “as close to the perfect choice as President Bush could have made.” Slate’s Dan Gross says there’s much to like about Bernanke—except he might be “a little soft on inflation.” And if you’re wondering: It’s pronounced ”ber-NAN-kee.”

In a Journal op-ed, conservative commentator Fred Barnes mentions in passing that Bernanke’s nomination was not going to be announced “until later this month or early November” but—for some darn reason—”was speeded up.”  

Everybody goes Page One with Wilma, which stayed a Cat. 3 across Florida, causing what seems to be moderate damage, including some crushed mobile homes, downed power lines, roofs torn off, and windows blown out. Seven people were reported killed, and power was knocked out for an estimated 3.4 million customers. The NYT also has a dispatch from Cancun, where there are looters, still-stranded tourists, and rumors of marauding gangs

Only the NYT fronts yesterday’s three suicide car bombings in Baghdad, two of which hit big hotels where Western journalists live. Though there were conflicting initial reports, it appears dozens were wounded but only six people were killed, five policemen and one Iraqi civilian. The biggest blast was caused by a cement truck stuffed with explosives. It tried to get through a hole created in hotel barriers by a first suicide car bomb. But according to the NYT, the truck got caught in razor wire and then was hit by fire from GIs. The WP cites an Iraqi official saying that insurgents intended to storm the hotel and take hostages. The NYT cites others saying the official is just guessing.

Despite the lack of Page One play for the bombings, the papers give the impression that yesterday’s attacks were different from the “usual” bombings. The NYT calls them the “first major attacks against a foreign civilian target” since the U.N. and Red Cross were hit. The military said a Marine was killed by a firefight in Ramadi.

The NYT teases and WP fronts the White House—in the form of Vice President Cheney—quietly pushing congressional negotiators to exempt the CIA from the recently passed Sen. McCain-sponsored amendment that reinforces rules against mistreatment of detainees. The first “reporter” who flagged Cheney’s push isn’t one at all. He’s a blogger and law professor, and he argues that Cheney’s proposal wouldn’t just weaken the McCain amendment; it would undermine existing U.S. law.

In what the WP calls a “dramatic escalation” in the battle over the nomination of Harriet Miers, two conservatives groups launched Web sites opposing Miers. Meanwhile, President Bush said he will refuse bipartisan demands to hand over documents about Miers’ time in the White House; it’s a move that many suspect is meant to provide cover for a coming Miers’ withdrawal.

Everybody gives front-page play to the death of Rosa Parks, whose arrest in 1955 for refusing to give up her bus seat in Montgomery, Ala., sparked a 380-day bus boycott, which in turn stoked the fires of the modern civil rights movement. Parks did volunteer work with the NAACP, but contrary to legend, she hadn’t boarded the bus with a plan to make a stand. Nor is it true that she didn’t get up simply because she was tired. “I was just a person who wanted to be seated on the bus,” she said. Parks was 92.