Today's Papers

Slipping Through the Cracks

The Washington Postleads with a look at the way many non-Mexican illegal immigrants manage to slip into the United States even after they have been caught at the border. Because there aren’t enough detention centers for all those who are caught, many are simply given “Notices to Appear” before a court. Border Patrol agents call these “Notices to Disappear” since most simply never show up. The New York Timesleads with news that despite fears of a global pandemic, bird flu has mostly disappeared from previous hotspots in Southeast Asia. Vietnam, for example hasn’t had a single human case this year. The Los Angeles Timesleads with an investigation that shows a shortage of jail beds in Los Angeles County has led to 150,000 inmates being released before serving out their full sentence. Thousands of these former inmates then proceeded to commit violent crimes when they should have still been in jail. Sometimes those who were rearrested were, once again, released early. 

Although arrests at the Mexican border have tripled since the creation of the Department of Homeland Security, there has not been an equal increase in detention centers, so there is no place to put all the illegal border-crossers. Mexicans are immediately returned to their country if they are caught, and efforts are underway to expedite the return of illegal immigrants from other countries as well. But there are still some loopholes that can be exploited. For example, a separate story in the Post says that Salvadorans are always entitled to a hearing because of a law that dates back to the country’s civil war, which ended in 1992. As a result, 52 percent of non-Mexicans that were caught during the current fiscal year claimed they were from El Salvador.

Officials are quick to emphasize that the threat of bird flu is not over, but they are optimistic that the measures taken to kill large groups of birds, combined with vaccination, can be successful. A separate wire story at the end of the NYT article says three people died of avian flu last week in Indonesia.

The NYT says on Page One that Vice President Dick Cheney pushed the National Security Agency to tap domestic phone calls and e-mails without warrants on the days following Sept. 11. Lawyers at the NSA argued against the proposal, saying they could only carry it out if one of the parties involved was outside the United States. Exactly how this compromise was reached will almost certainly be one of the questions that Michael V. Hayden, who is the current nominee for director of the Central Intelligence Agency and led the NSA at the time, will face during Senate hearings next week.

The WP and NYT reefer the revelation that Vice President Dick Cheney wrote several notes on a copy of the Op-Ed piece by Joseph C. Wilson IV that questioned the assertions that Iraq had tried to purchase materials for a nuclear bomb from Africa. The notes asks questions about Wilson’s trip to Africa and whether his wife, Valerie Plame, arranged the trip. This new piece of evidence comes from a filing by special prosecutor Patrick Fitzgerald, who says Cheney gave the column, with notes, to his chief of staff, I. Lewis “Scooter” Libby, before Libby talked about the subject with reporters. Besides showing Cheney’s interest in Wilson and what he wrote, Fitzgerald could use this new evidence to prove that Libby lied when he said he learned about Wilson’s wife from reporters. Both papers mention Newsweekwas the first to report the story.

The WP fronts a report that says fired CIA officer Mary O. McCarthy felt as though agency officials repeatedly hid facts and stretched the truth to members of Congress. Of course, no one knows whether this is what led her to give information to reporters but it is still unclear exactly what she leaked. In an e-mail to friends, McCarthy denies that she leaked anything classified. Although McCarthy did not deny that she talked to WP reporter Dana Priest, she emphasized she didn’t know the CIA had secret prisons in Eastern Europe.

Everybody mentions that Sen. John McCain defended the Iraq war during a commencement speech at Rev. Jerry Falwell’s Liberty University. McCain also emphasized that those who disagree with the war should state their opinions. During the Republican presidential primary in 2000, McCain described Falwell as an “agent of intolerance.” This speech is seen as his latest move to reach out to the important religious conservatives in preparation for a possible presidential campaign in 2008. 

The LAT goes inside with the Justice Department asking a federal judge to dismiss a lawsuit against AT&T Inc. for its collaboration in the NSA’s warrantless eavesdropping program. The government says that going through with the suit could damage national security.

The NYT fronts a dispatch from Sudan that reports on the continuing violence in the country , despite the official cease-fire that was declared on Monday. Many in Sudan are skeptical that the latest agreement will be effective, particularly since it was only signed by one rebel group.

In a front-page story, the NYT looks at why it has taken so long for the Department of Homeland Security to create identification cards for transportation workers. Four years after the plan was created and two years past a deadline, the cards have not even started to be produced. Meanwhile, many of the delays, along with millions of dollars, have benefited the constituents and political donors of Rep. Harold Rogers, a Republican from Kentucky who chairs the subcommittee that controls the department’s budget.

The WP and NYT go inside with a Reuters dispatch from Mogadishu, Somalia, where at least 144 people have been killed in the past seven days as fighting between militias continues. The country’s interim government has asked for foreign intervention to help stop the violence.

In the WP Outlook section, Michael Grunwald wonders why Americans aren’t angrier with the Army Corps of Engineers. In 2000, Grunwald wrote a 50,000-word series on “dysfunction” at the Corps, and since then, little has changed. After Hurricane Katrina, the Federal Emergency Management Agency took the brunt of the blame for how it responded. The Army Corps of Engineers, meanwhile, continues to receive more money from Congress and has largely escaped scrutiny, even though it helped create the disaster.

In the NYT’sBook Review, Pete Hamill writes a fawning, largely uncritical review of Reporting: Writings from the New Yorker by The New Yorker’s editor David Remnick. “A sly wit often punches up the prose, and he is hip in the original sense of the word, which was ‘knowing,’ not fashionable,” writes Hamill. And he goes on: “I’ve been edited by Remnick and interviewed by him, and came away from each experience respecting his intelligence and professionalism.” Besides that slight and ambiguous disclaimer, there is no mention of the fact that, according to a 1999 WP piece, Remnick hired Hamill after becoming editor of the magazine in 1998. According to The New Yorker archives, Hamill has written five pieces for the magazine, all after Remnick became its editor.