Today's Papers

Pre-emption Resurrection

The Washington Post leads with, while the Wall Street Journal goes Page One with and New York Times reefers, the White House previewing its new “national security strategy,” which reiterates the administration’s commitment to pre-emption and offers tough talk about Iran. USA Today leads with state officials warning that more seniors are going to be out of luck on Medicare drug coverage in a few weeks with the end of the federal government’s mandated “transition period” that had required providers to be more flexible in their coverage. The NYT’s national edition leads with—and alone fronts—Saddam Hussein’s first official testimony at his trial, where he promptly started berating the court and then did a Rodney King variation, urging everybody to get along … and unite against the U.S. The judge cut Hussein’s mike and then shipped reporters out of the room. In a trial that has featured what the Times calls “searing testimony from victims,” the paper somehow finds Hussein’s harangue the “most riveting element so far.” The Los Angeles Times leads with California’s legislature turning its back to Gov. Schwarzenegger’s proposal for a massive public-works bond. The LAT off-leads the Senate bucking President Bush and voting to extend the sign-up period for the drug benefit. Word of a slight catch comes a few paragraphs later: “The Senate action does not carry the force of law.” Oh.

The president is required to offer a national strategy paper every four years. With regard to pre-emption, it appears that the 2002 document was pulled up, and officials quickly hit “Print.” The policy “remains the same,” says the new document. “When the consequences of an attack with WMD are potentially so devastating, we cannot afford to stand idly by as grave dangers materialize.”

As the NYT and Journal emphasize, the focus on Iran is new. Regarding Tehran’s apparent nukes program, the document says diplomacy “must succeed if confrontation is to be avoided.” In another new tidbit in the document, Russia got a brushback. The paper cites Moscow’s “diminishing commitment to democratic freedoms and institutions.” There’s also talk in the doc of non-weapons threats such as AIDS and the avian flu. (Any mention of global warming?)

Post columnist David Ignatius has the biggest news in the papers—if he’s right: Ignatius is in Iraq and says the major political parties are—tentatively—beginning to come together on a deal for a unity government.“We have a common understanding on major issues, on the need for consensus and on a national security commission,”said a top Shiite leader. That commission would, theoretically, set general security policy by consensus.

The Postand NYT go inside with local officials in a town north of Baghdad saying a U.S. raid that included airstrikes killed about a dozen members of one family, including five children and six women. The military said it was just returning fire. One GI was also killed in an attack elsewhere.

The WSJ goes high with yet another poll confirming that the president’s numbers stink: He got a 37 percent approval and 58 percent disapproval. Per usual, the accompanying story pretends no other polls exist.

The Post fronts the U.N. General Assembly voting to abolish the moribund human rights commission and start a new one with entry requirements making it harder for human rights leaders such as Saudi Arabia and Zimbabwe to join. Though late yesterday the U.S. agreed to help finance the new council, it was one of four countries to vote against the change. U.S. Ambassador John Bolton said Washington wanted deeper changes. That prompted the Swiss ambassador to gently note, “All too often, too high-minded ambitions are cover-ups for less noble ambitions.”

The NYT and WP reefer the president nominating acting FDA Commissioner Andrew von Eschenbach for the top job on a more permanent basis. The nomination is quite forward-leaning—and risky—considering Eschenbach’s role in the agency’s punting on approving the Plan B emergency contraceptive for over-the-counter sales despite recommendations from FDA staff experts and an advisory panel to OK the sales.

Russian made easyski …   From the NYT:

An obituary on Monday about Anna Marly, who wrote the melody for the anthem of the French Resistance in World War II, misstated the Russian word for partisan, which she used as a rhythmic accent. It is partizan, not partinski.