Today's Papers

Alberto Outta There?

The Washington Post leads with unnamed sources saying Attorney General Alberto Gonzales, his deputy, and the FBI director all hinted that they were ready to quit over the raid of a Democratic congressman’s office. The raid caused a great deal of consternation among members of Congress, and now we know that within the administration there was a significant battle as well. The resignations were averted by agreeing to a 45-day “cooling-off period” where the evidence seized in the raid would be sealed. The New York Times also has the story and runs it above the fold, but has much less detail than the Post.

The Los Angeles Times leads with the investigation into the killings of civilians in Haditha, Iraq, by U.S. Marines. While yesterday’s NYT stated that some of the killings were “methodical in nature”, the LAT goes a step further in describing the killings as “execution-style.”* The Post runs a good story on the same incident above the fold, but theirs is based on interviews with residents in Haditha. One new detail in both stories: A 500-pound bomb may have been dropped on the town (the LAT says it happened; the Post says it’s a point of contention), which the Post points out would indicate that senior commanders, who have to approve such things, would at least be aware that something was going on in Haditha.

The New York Times leads with the Bush administration “debating” whether to start talks with Iran on Tehran’s nuclear program. The story, citing “European officials and Americans close to the administration,” makes it seem a bit of a one-sided debate. Against talks are Bush, Cheney, and Rumsfeld. Condoleezza Rice “has begun discussing the issue with top aides at the State Department” but is also apparently against talks. So, who is for them? Besides graybeards like Henry Kissinger quoted later in the article, it looks like no one. The LA Times stuffs a similar story but more convincingly emphasizes the outside forces pushing on the administration to start talks. The key quote, from a Republican foreign-policy insider: “I don’t think they are taking initiatives now. I think they are being dragged.”

The Wall Street Journal tops its world-wide newsbox with Gen. Michael Hayden getting confirmed as new head of the CIA. Everyone else stuffs the news. The Senate vote was 78 to 15.

The Post pretty thoroughly describes the to and fro of the White House battle over the congressional raid. According to the Post, the biggest critic of the raids within the administration, squaring off against Gonzales and the others, was David Addington, Cheney’s chief of staff. Both the Times and the Post do the same odd parsing, declining to use the word threat to describe Gonzales’ intention to quit. The Post explains, a bit: “The discussion of Gonzales and the others resigning never evolved into a direct threat, but it was made plain that such an option would have to be considered if the president ordered the documents returned, several sources said. ‘It wasn’t one of those things of ‘If you will, I will,’ one senior administration official said. ‘It was kind of the background noise.’ “

The NYT and WSJ both report that former commerce secretary Donald Evans is the front-runner to replace John Snow, who is rumored to be stepping down as treasury secretary. *

Everyone stuffs the visit of the Iranian foreign minister to Baghdad. The NYT and Post emphasize his Iraqi counterpart saying that Iran has the right to peaceful nuclear power. The LAT has a somewhat broader look at changing Iran-Iraq relations.

The NYT fronts an interesting local story on the tensions caused by police informants in Muslim communities in Brooklyn. The role of the informants was highlighted in a terrorism trial that ended this week. As a result, the immigrants, from places like Egypt and Syria, engage in their own countersurveillance of the informants. Good irony here: “It is a habit imported from the countries they left behind, where informers for the security services were common and political freedoms curtailed.”

The idle rich can start their weekend with some exotic travel planning. The Journal has a helpful service piece on “insider” travel, in which the tourist can drink cocktails with a maharaja or dine with a countess. Their advice is to book directly. While a travel agent can arrange lunch with an Italian princess for $1,425, you can contact the princess herself and set up a friendly lunch for just $422. And if you’ve always wanted to hunt polar bears in the Canadian Arctic, act fast. A bunch of killjoys are trying to curtail the practice, citing pressure on the bears from global warming, reports the NYT on the front page.

Correction, May 30, 2006: This article originally and incorrectly stated that on Friday the New York Times was first to report the investigation into the killing of civilians by American Marines in Haditha, Iraq. In fact, the Los Angeles Times also carried an article about the investigation and other publications have reported it as well. (Return to the corrected sentence.) Also, this article originally and incorrectly stated that John Snow announced he would step down as treasury secretary. As of publication, Snow had not made an announcement, though members of the Bush administration had confirmed his plan to step down. (Return to the corrected sentence.)