Today's Papers

Special Abuse

The New York Timesleads with, and the Washington Postreefers, the release of a Pentagon report revealing that Special Operations forces in Iraq used unauthorized interrogation techniques between February and May of 2004, after the use of these tactics had been banned. The troops apparently received an outdated policy from commanders and that’s why those who carried out the investigation said it was not deliberate abuse. Most of the papers chose to lead with the debates in the House and the Senate over the Iraq war yesterday, but today, only the Los Angeles Times leads with the latest developments, while the WP and NYT reefer the news. The House of Representatives approved a resolution that vows to finish the Iraq mission, and rejected imposing a deadline for any kind of U.S. troop withdrawal. The Wall Street Journal tops its worldwide newsbox with a catch-all about Iraq, including the vote in the House of Representatives. The Journal emphasizes that support for President Bush’s Iraq policies was not as strong as it was in 2002. The WP leads locally and off-leads with a piece that says Karl Rove has a lot riding on the upcoming elections. Rove has seen his influence and reputation diminish, partly because of the CIA leak investigation, but also as a result of his failed Social Security plans. Now Republicans are counting on him to help maintain a GOP majority in Congress.

Although the report about the interrogation techniques had been completed more than a year and a half ago, the Pentagon only released a heavily redacted version yesterday in response to a Freedom of Information Act request from the ACLU. The abusive tactics used by Special Operations troops included feeding only bread and water to uncooperative prisoners and carrying out interrogations in heavily air-conditioned rooms after detainees were soaked with water, among others. Army Brig. Gen. Richard P. Formica, who led the investigation, said the actions of these troops were “regrettable,” but emphasized that “inadequate policy guidelines” were to blame.

The nonbinding resolution in the House passed 256 to 153, with 42 Democrats joining most Republicans to vote in favor of what many classify as simply an election-year stunt. The Republicans wasted no time and issued news releases criticizing two democrats who voted against the bill and, coincidentally, are candidates for the Senate.

The WSJ includes in its newsbox, and the NYT reefers, word that one American soldier was killed and two others went missing on Friday in Iraq. It’s possible the soldiers were captured. The rest of the papers also report that a suicide bomber killed 11 people (the LAT says 12, the WSJ 13) in a Shiite mosque in Baghdad. Although the LAT, NYT, and WSJ agree that the bomber hid explosives in his shoes, the WP says he was wearing an explosive belt.

The investigation into whether U.S. Marines tried to cover up the Haditha killings was delivered yesterday to a top military commander in Iraq. According to a spokeswoman, Army Lt. Gen. Peter Chiarelli will “thoroughly review the voluminous report as quickly as possible.” An unnamed official tells the LAT that, according to the report, there was no deliberate plot to hide the events but that Marine officers failed to demand “a thorough explanation” of what exactly took place in Haditha.

The report, which could be publicly released as early as next week, has put the administration in a difficult position, says the WSJ. Although the White House is receiving pressures to condemn the killings, they say they cannot comment and risk influencing the investigation and any trials that might take place. Meanwhile, the NYT fronts a good overview piece that chronologically goes through what is already known about the events in Haditha, including the discrepancies between different versions of what exactly happened on Nov. 19, 2005.

All the papers mention that Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad said his government is seriously considering the proposal to continue negotiations over his country’s nuclear programs and he characterized it as a “step forward.”

The NYT goes inside with news that the Bush administration will support a proposal put forward by the European Union to transfer badly needed money to some Palestinians through the World Bank. Although the details still need to be worked out, Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice said they are close to reaching a “substantial agreement.”

The LAT fronts a look into the Red Cross International Tracing Service that houses approximately 50 million documents from the Nazi concentration and slave labor camps. In April, Germany agreed to open the files, which had been under restricted access because of privacy concerns. The Nazis were meticulous in their paperwork and some hope that the opening of the files can give the world a better understanding of life inside the camps.

Everybody mentions the House voted to remove Rep. William J. Jefferson, D-La., from the powerful Ways and Means Committee. Jefferson is currently under federal investigation for bribery. This is apparently the first time such a harsh step has been taken against a member who has not been charged with a crime. The Congressional Black Caucus opposed the move and said Jefferson was being unfairly punished.

All the papers go inside with a report issued by the Department of Homeland Security that says the majority of states and cities are not prepared for a disaster. DHS called on cities and states to carry out a “fundamental modernization” of their plans.

The WP and LAT front dispatches from Mogadishu, Somalia where violence has stopped and residents seem to be relieved they can once again walk around the streets without carrying guns. Although some fear the Islamic militia that took control of the city could turn Somalia into a fundamentalist state and a haven for terrorists, that concern seems to be taking a backseat at the moment for the city’s residents.

Almost 40 years after the Beatles recorded “When I’m Sixty-Four,” the NYT points out that Paul McCartney, who wrote the song, is turning 64 on Sunday.

Cristal [no longer] forever … Rapper and record executive Jay-Z has vowed to boycott Cristal, according to an AP story published inside the Post. The move comes after Frederic Rouzaud, the managing director of the company that produces the famous champagne, said in an interview that his firm views the attention from rappers with “curiosity and serenity.” When asked if he thought this association could be detrimental to the company, the executive replied: “That’s a good question, but what can we do? We can’t forbid people from buying it.” Jay-Z called the comments racist, vowed to stop mentioning the champagne, and said he will no longer sell it in his chain of sports lounges.

Correction, June 19, 2006: This article originally and incorrectly claimed that the Los Angeles Times led on June 17 with an article about the Red Cross archiving Holocaust documents. The lead story was about a House vote on the Iraq war resolution.