Today's Papers

Karl Marks Scooter

The Los Angeles Times leads with, and others front, the ranking Republican and Democrat on the Senate Judiciary Committee ordering Supreme Court nominee Harriet Miers to take a do-over on her recently submitted questionnaire. The senators were particularly miffed about the skimpy job Miers did on the questions about conflicts of interest as well as constitutional issues. Miers must provide “amplification on many, many of the items,” said committee Chair Arlen Specter.

Citing Karl Rove’s lawy… sorry … “a source familiar with Rove’s account,” the Washington Post’slead says Karl Rove told the Plame grand jury that it may have been the vice president’s chief of staff, Scooter Libby, who first told him Valerie Plame was a CIA agent. Rove reportedly said that the conversation took place a few days before Plame was publicly outed, and allegedly—now this is, what, thrice-removed—Libby initially heard about Plame from a reporter. The Wall Street Journal world-wide newsbox and New York Timeslead with the first day of Saddam’s trial, where the former dictator refused to acknowledge the legitimacy of the court but eventually took the opportunity to plead not guilty. Then acceding to pleas from defense attorneys for more preparation time, the judge adjourned until late November. USA Todayleads with two federally financed studies confirming that a drug already used to treat some types of advanced breast cancer also seems to be effective against an aggressive type of early breast cancer. 

The import of the Rove leak isn’t clear. One obvious possibility: Rove’s lawyer is trying to save his client’s tush. As the WP mentions, the Associated Press had this leak-of-the-day first; both pieces note that Rove has apparently previously testified that he couldn’t remember who first told him about Plame. His recollection was apparently jogged after being “shown testimony from Libby.”

The WP’s Rove piece is more than a simple leak-and-print. It’s a helpful primer on the whole affair.

The NYT’s John Burns picks up a few glitches yesterday at Saddam’s trial, like the fact that the microphones for Saddam, other defendants, and their lawyers “appeared not to function.”

Only the NYT devotes a staff piece to the news that  26 Iraqis, five GIs, and one British soldier were killed in assorted attacks “late Tuesday and Wednesday.” Also, a British reporter for the Guardian was kidnapped in Baghdad.

Miers said she was happy to give the questionnaire another try; she also added that she forgot to mention that her Texas law license was suspended for about a month years ago because of … “an administrative oversight,” purportedly by her former law firm. Miers has already acknowledged that her D.C. law license was also briefly suspended because she forgot to pay some dues.

The LAT has some serious sniping from senators who had getting-to-know-you sessions with Miers: “Some described her as surprisingly reticent and, in a word used by more than one of them, ‘underwhelming.’  ” After chatting with her a bit, Republican Sen. Jeff Sessions offered some of the strongest support seen yet for her. “I might have liked a different type nominee myself, but that’s the president’s choice,” he said.

Finally, the WP notices another high-quality response from Miers’ questionnaire:

In describing one matter on the Dallas City Council, Miers referred to “the proportional representation requirement of the Equal Protection Clause” as it relates to the Voting Rights Act.”There is no proportional representation requirement in the Equal Protection Clause,” said Cass R. Sunstein, a constitutional law professor at the University of Chicago.

The NYT and LAT mention footage from an Australian film crew showing GIs in Afghanistan burning the bodies of two Taliban fighters. As the bodies were burning, the soldiers broadcast a taunt to a nearby village, “You allowed your fighters to be laid down facing west and burned. You are too scared to come down and retrieve the bodies. This just proves you are the lady boys we always believed you to be.” Islam prohibits cremation.

The FinancialTimes notices that the former chief of staff to Secretary of State Colin Powell savaged the administration in a speech yesterday.What I saw was a cabal between the vice-president of the United States, Richard Cheney, and the secretary of defense, Donald Rumsfeld, on critical issues that made decisions that the bureaucracy did not know were being made,” said Larry Wilkerson. “Now it is paying the consequences of making those decisions in secret, but far more telling to me is America is paying the consequences.” Wilkerson said Powell is not happy with his decision to speak out.

The Journal and NYT notice that a Spanish court has issued arrest warrants for three GIs who fired, allegedly indiscriminately, on a hotel in Baghdad and killed a Spanish cameraman during the fall of Baghdad in April 2003. The Pentagon has cleared the three, and there’s almost no chance they’re going to jail.  

In a piece about journalists—including Judith Miller—offering Senate testimony in support of a national shield law, the NYT’s Katharine Seelye tries to get Miller to clarify some things, namely the purported security clearance she had in Iraq. Miller said she signed the same kind of non-disclosure forms that all embeds did, though with what the Times dubs “some modifications.” Miller said she had a deal with the local commander that she would—again in the NYT’s phrasing—”discuss her most secret reporting with only the senior-most editors of the Times.” Whatever that all means.

Asked if she ever gave any of her sources, including Libby, the impression that she had some sort of security clearance after Iraq, Miller said, “I don’t remember if I ever told him I was disembedded. I might not have.” She added, “I never misled anybody.” Never.