Today's Papers

Indian Bummer?

The Washington Post, Los Angeles Times, Wall Street Journal world-wide newsbox, and New York Times all lead with yesterday’s unveiling of the big nuclear pact in which the U.S. will give India a helping hand with civilian technology and allow India to ramp up its nukes program. In return, India will give its abiding friendship and will allow international inspectors at civilian plants. Its military program is still off-limits.

USA Todayreefers the agreement and leads with the latest on the ports deal: The Republican chair of the House Armed Services Committee previewed legislation to not only block the ports sale but also to  require foreign companies to divest holdings of U.S. infrastructure that are, in USAT’s words, “critical to national security.” The story also touts an in-house poll with opposition to the ports deal running nearly 4-1. President Bush’s approval rating fell to 38 percent, and his approval on terrorism issues fell to 47 percent, a record low and a seven-point drop from a month ago. The LAT fronts a poll with similar findings; the president’s disapproval rating clocked in at 58 percent.

As the Post puts it, the agreement with India “marked a significant break from decades of U.S. nuclear policy.” That’s because under the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty, the U.S. and other nuke-holding countries are supposed to give nuclear know-how and fuel only to countries that sign on the treaty and promise to skip making weapons. India hasn’t exactly done either. Slate’s Fred Kaplan recently detailed how the coming deal violates the NPT, U.S. law, and may be unwise to boot.

In terms of inspections and the limits India agreed to, the Post says the agreement “would allow India enough fissile material for as many as 50 weapons a year. Experts said this would “far exceed what is believed to be its current capacity.”

“This deal not only lets India amass as many nuclear weapons as it wants, it looks like we made no effort to try to curtail them,” one analyst told the NYT. “This is Santa Claus negotiating. The goal seems to have been to give away as much as possible.” Congress has to approve the deal, and there seems to be a reasonable amount of opposition on both sides of the aisle.

The WP off-leads and LAT fronts a Senate committee rejecting a proposal to create an independent ethics office to oversee and enforce congressional ethics and lobbying regs. The NYT, which goes inside with the 11-to-5 bipartisan vote, points out it’s the second time this week that senators “backed away from expansive lobbying law changes.”

As the LAT fronts, the Senate as expected voted overwhelmingly to renew the Patriot Act. A deal with a handful of holdout Republicans last month added a few small civil-liberties protections and assured passage.

The WP reefers lawyers for a Gitmo detainee telling a judge that the force-feeding of their client amounts to abuse under the McCain anti-torture amendment. What’s particularly interesting is the administration’s response: They argued that Gitmo detainees have no real right to invoke the McCain amendment. That’s because the much-less-noticed Graham-Levin amendment says detainees aren’t allowed to go to the courts in the first place. As one human rights lawyer put it, “The law says you can’t torture detainees at Guantanamo, but it also says you can’t enforce that law in the courts.”

The NYT also has a piece on the Gitmo suit but doesn’t seem to grasp the significance of the government’s argument.

The Post alonefronts a new study suggesting the Antarctic ice sheet is melting darn fast and by itself causing sea levels to rise by 0.4 millimeters a year. The NYT cites a separate survey echoing the findings. Even one seeming skeptic of the study said, “It looks like the ice sheets are ahead of schedule. We better figure out what’s going on.” Another study out today and mentioned by the WP predicts that one-fourth of all lakes and streams in Africa will disappear by the end of the century because of global warming.

Feeling secure yet? From the Journal’sWashington Wire:

Among other woes at Homeland Security, the inspector general’s office says it can’t widely distribute electronic announcements of new watchdog reports. A spokeswoman explains the department lacks capacity to create a mass email list, and “We don’t have a fix at this point.”