Today's Papers

Kidnappings and Killings

The New York Timesleads with the kidnapping and murder of one of Saddam Hussein’s lawyers. The Times says it was the 10th killing of somebody involved in the trial. The Washington Postleads with eight U.S. troops charged with the kidnapping and murder of an Iraqi. According to investigators, the troops took the man from his house, bound him, and shot him. The case, which is also the top nonlocal news in the Los Angeles Times, isn’t connected to the Haditha killings. USA Todayleads with some of the nation’s largest airports—including the big three in New York—saying no thank you to the government’s coming “trusted traveler” program. “We don’t see how it meets any customers’ needs,” said a spokesman for Boston’s airport, which is among about a dozen that won’t be participating.

According to witnesses cited by the NYT, men from Moqtada Sadr’s Shiite militia paraded Saddam’s lawyer in the streets shouting, “Terrorist!” Then they murdered him. “This is the fate of those who defend Saddam Hussein,” they proclaimed. The decision by the U.S. and Iraqis to hold Saddam’s trial in Baghdad has long been criticized by human rights advocates.

Elsewhere in Baghdad, about 100 workers at a government-run factory were kidnapped by gunmen, some of whom were wearing police uniforms. One worker who wasn’t nabbed said he heard the gunmen “focused on Shiites.”

The Wall Street Journal goes high with a recent interview it had with the American commander in Iraq who said the U.S. and Iraqi governments have had more talks with insurgent-connected groups. There have been such meetings before, but he said there are more feelers out there now. “These connections just weren’t open to us before,” said the general. (The paper mentions the interview happened “late last month.” Haven’t a few things happened since then?)

The NYT fronts the president so far successfully pushing Republicans to sound tough on Iraq and paint Democrats as withdrawal-wantin’ wusses. It’s all detailed in a 74-page briefing the White House e-mailed to Republicans and, “in an apparent mistake, also to some Democrats.” The LAT fronted the strategy last week.

The papers go inside with House Republican leaders forced at the last minute to cancel a vote to re-up the Voting Rights Act. The move came after some in the ranks said they really, truly hated some of the provisions that single out Southern states as well as one that mandates bilingual ballots in some circumstances.

The Journal notes that 52 senators endorsed a (failed) move to increase the federal minimum wage. Sixty votes were needed to move it forward. But the 52 votes were, as the WSJ puts it, a “high-water mark in labor’s pay-raise campaign and one certain to boost pressure on Republican leaders to permit a House vote on the issue.” The minimum—$5.15—isn’t indexed to inflation and hasn’t changed a penny since 1997.

A piece inside the Post previews a new study concluding that middle-class neighborhoods are shrinking. They now make up 41 percent of ‘hoods in the 100 largest metro areas. That’s down from 58 percent in 1970. “No city in America has [become] more integrated by income in the last 30 years,” said one of the researchers.

The WP fronts suspicions by good-government types around a deal by House Speaker Dennis Hastert in which he made a couple million bucks by selling land that happened to be a few miles from a highway project he helped fund.

An Israeli missile strike in Gaza missed its target and killed a pregnant woman. Fourteen civilians have been killed in Israeli strikes during the last week, including three children Tuesday.

The NYT has a front-page piece on a video made in the hours before Uzbekistan’s bloody crackdown on protesters last year. The video, recorded by the Uzbek government, shows some of the protesters armed but also shows that most of those gathered—who later faced a barrage of fire from Uzbek troops—were “unarmed people.” In other words, the upshot is unclear. But what’s really impressive is the Times’ use of the Web. It links to the whole video and posts links directly to relevant outside reports. And for better or worse, the story itself is an “expanded version of the article that appeared in the print edition.”

In a Post op-ed, Clinton-era Defense Secretary William Perry and a former colleague have an out-of-the-box idea in response to Pyongyang’s move toward a missile test: “IF NECESSARY, STRIKE AND DESTROY.” The details of their plan:

This could be accomplished, for example, by a cruise missile launched from a submarine carrying a high-explosive warhead. The blast would be similar to the one that killed terrorist leader Abu Musab al-Zarqawi in Iraq. But the effect on the Taepodong would be devastating. The multi-story, thin-skinned missile filled with high-energy fuel is itself explosive—the U.S. airstrike would puncture the missile and probably cause it to explode. The carefully engineered test bed for North Korea’s nascent nuclear missile force would be destroyed, and its attempt to retrogress to Cold War threats thwarted. There would be no damage to North Korea outside the immediate vicinity of the missile gantry …We believe diplomacy might have precluded the current situation. But diplomacy has failed, and we cannot sit by and let this deadly threat mature. A successful Taepodong launch, unopposed by the United States, its intended victim, would only embolden North Korea even further. The result would be more nuclear warheads atop more and more missiles.