Today's Papers

Maliki Misunderstood?

The New York Timeslead says Iraqi Prime Minister Nuri Kamal al-Maliki called attacks against civilians by allied troops a “daily phenomenon.” USA Todayleads with what the Washington Postpreviewed yesterday: The U.S.’s top commander in Iraq has ordered all troops to do “core warrior values” training, which USAT says will include handy “slides that depict professional military values and the importance of disciplined conductin combat.” The Wall Street Journal’s world-wide newsbox and WP lead with the U.S., European allies, and China and Russia presenting a united front and reiterating the deal the U.S. recently proposed: If Iran suspends enriching uranium, the U.S. will start negotiating and consider a panoply of incentives. Beyond the photo op, things were left vague. As the WP says, “Details of the five- to six-page document agreed to” by the countries “were not announced.” The Los Angeles Timesleads with a follow-up on what USAT led with yesterday: The government is asking Internet and telecom companies to keep data on users’ activities for up to two years. The companies aren’t thrilled.

“IRAQI ACCUSES U.S. OF ‘DAILY’ ATTACKS AGAINST CIVILIANS; Premier Assails Troops,” says the NYT. What the paper doesn’t cite is the prime minister’s other recent comments, where he said, carefully, “Yes a mistake may happen but there is an acceptable limit to mistakes. … I am not saying that they are intentional. But it is worrying for us.”* That’s a useful bit of context, no? (For what it’s worth, TP did a quick Nexis search and couldn’t find another publication that quotes Maliki’s charging “daily” attacks against civilians.)

The allied diplomats announced yesterday that if Iran doesn’t stop enriching uranium, they’re all now on the same page that Tehran should absolutely, without question, face “steps,” “measures,” “actions” and “negative disincentives.” One word not used: “sanctions.” The S-word isn’t being used because, a small problem here, Russia and China haven’t agreed to impose them.

The LAT has a wee bit of trouble conveying the above nuance: “RUSSIA, CHINA, JOIN DEAL ON IRAN.” It’s one of those perfectly accurate and perfectly wrong headlines. Sure, China and Russia agreed on the “deal”—a deal that apparently punts on the central issue: what to do if Iran balks.

As the WP delicately puts it:

The possible sanctions in the agreement are listed as a menu, ranging from minor to major, diplomats said. It was unclear whether there was agreement on which options to choose if Iran fails to act.

The WP reports inside that military investigators are “hoping” to exhume the bodies of the Iraqis killed in Haditha. Too bad the headline isn’t about something else in the piece: The criminal investigation wasn’t launched until mid-March, four months after the killings and two months after Time magazine told the military about the allegations in January. The delay could make the case harder to prosecute. “I think there’s plenty of avenues for defense in this case,” said one outside military lawyer, “the fact that it wasn’t initially investigated, the fact that there’s been plenty of time for witnesses to play with stories. There’s a lot of wiggle room in there.”

The BBC is airing video that seems to support Iraqi charges, and contradict the Pentagon’s account, of a different incident in which 11 Iraqis were killed by GIs near Balad. Knight Ridder had an in-depth report on the charges in March—and nobody much noticed, including TP.

The WP and NYT front follow-up on the government’s decision to cut counter-terror grants to D.C. and N.Y. The NYT points out that the government rated New York City’s application among the worst in terms of “quality.” Among the administration’s beefs: N.Y. didn’t submit its application via the ‘net and instead faxed it. A city official called the fax assertion a big fat lie (or words to that effect).

 The WP focuses on the feds rating D.C. in the lowest risk category for terrorist attack. It makes for a good headline. Except as the paper points out well below the fold, the Washington region as a whole—including its ‘burbs—ranked in the highest risk category.

The Post’s Dana Milbank grabs an interesting comparison:

The new DHS plan is advertised as a “risk-based” model, but it came up with almost the opposite conclusions to a Rand Corp. study last year that calculated terrorism risk to 47 cities. Seven of the 10 highest-risk cities in the Rand study will lose funding under the DHS plan; six of the 10 lowest-risk cities in the Rand study will see increases in funds, including such hot spots as Milwaukee and Tampa.”

It’s still possible that the government’s allocation was done fairly and reasonably. But the feds aren’t helping their case: They have declined to give details about how they did the calculations or even the names of the outside “experts” who were on the panels that did the math.

The NYT and LAT front the Army Corps of Engineers offering a scathing report on … itself. The massive report on New Orleans’ levees concluded that they were built haphazardly over years with mistake piling on top of mistake. “The hurricane protection system in New Orleans and southeast Louisiana was a system in name only,” said the report.

The Post devotes about two-thirds of its front-page footprint to what the paper promises will be a “year-long” series: “Being a Black Man.” The first piece is a refresher course and primer on where things stand. “The dueling realities of their history,” says the WP, “steady progress and devastating setbacks—continue to burden many black men in ways that are sometimes difficult to explain.” Tell me about it. The story’s length: 3,635 words.

Correction, June 2, 2006: This article originally said that a New York Times story about Iraqi Prime Minister Nuri Kamal al-Maliki’s criticism of “daily” allied troops’ attacks against civilians failed to include “another part of the quote” in which Maliki offered: “I’m not saying they are intentional.” In fact, Maliki said that two days ago. (Return to the corrected sentence.)