Today's Papers

Brutal Day

The New York Timesand Los Angeles Timeslead with the military discovering what appear to be the bodies of the two missing GIs. They were so badly mutilated, one commander said, “we couldn’t identify them.” DNA samples are being taken to the U.S. The Washington Postleads with a jury convicting former White House aide David Safavian of obstruction of justice and lying about the help he gave disgraced former lobbyist Jack Abramoff. The Wall Street Journal points out that the case is “the first trial victory” for the government in the ever-widening scandal. It’s just the kind of thing that emboldens prosecutors and gets their targets sweating. “This is the type of conviction that tends to loosen tongues,” said one law prof. USA Todayleads with a study sponsored by the Gates Foundation concluding that high schools in a few of the biggest city school districts have a less than 50 percent graduation rate. The paper also quotes a researcher as saying the study “seriously understate[s] graduation rates, especially for minorities.” So, it’s the lead story … because?

The two soldiers’ bodies were found just a few miles from where the GIs were captured. Two residents in the area told the Post the soldiers were beheaded, dismembered, and their bodies dragged through the street. One of the soldiers’ uncles told the Houston Chronicle the military confirmed the beheadings. 

The military learned about the bodies via a tipster. But soldiers couldn’t actually get them for 12 hours because the approach had been booby-trapped with bombs. “They were intentionally targeting the recovery force,” said one commander.

The LAT emphasizes that an investigation will look into why the soldiers weren’t operating in a larger group. The NYT has the beginnings of an answer: More soldiers were with them but were drawn away to chase after insurgents in an apparent decoy attack.

The LAT also mentions the following from the town where the GIs were captured: “An Iraqi army officer stationed in Yousifiya said that U.S. forces withdrew from the area on Tuesday and as they departed, set fire to warehouses near the electricity plant where the bodies were discovered. Yousifiya residents extinguished the fires after the Americans left, the officer said.”

About a dozen civilians were killed in Baghdad by what the Post says were “four explosions detonated within an hour” of one another.

The WP also mentions the military saying it killed 15 “terrorists” in Baquba, whilewitnesses, family members of the dead and a Sunni Muslim member of the Iraqi parliament” said they weren’t insurgents, didn’t have weapons, and two kids were among the dead. A U.S. spokesman said there were no civilian causalities in what was a “an extremely long firefight.”

Finally, from the once relatively peaceful southern city of Basra, a suicide bomber attacked an old-age home, killing five.

The LAT, NYT, and WP all front House Republican leaders putting off negotiations to reconcile the House’s strict immigration bill with the Senate’s more lenient one. That will probably push any overhaul to immigration law until after the November elections, which the papers suggest is a bummer for Bush. (On the other hand: Doesn’t it also put off the prospect of a big, unseemly Republican-on-Republican showdown?)

Instead there will be smaller ones: In lieu of working on an agreement, the House GOP leaders will hold hearings around the country, where they will “listen” and, as the NYT puts it, “try to expose what they saw as failings in the Senate bill.” That’s the bill the president supports.

The NYT fronts Senate Democratic leaders being less than thrilled with Sen. Kerry’s call to withdraw (or as the resolution charmingly puts it, “redeploy“) from Iraq within a year. The Democrats are trying to push their rank-and-file to unite behind a plan that calls for some troops to leave this year but doesn’t set a date for withdrawal. Democratic leaders scheduled debate for Kerry’s proposal for “the evening, too late for the nightly television news.”

An LAT piece looks at the limited options the U.S. faces if North Korea does go ahead with a missile test. South Korea has already suggested it’s not interested in helping further isolate its northerly neighbor. In fact the latest “signal” South Korea is sending Pyongyang: broadcasts of the World Cup.

TP Sports section: Miami Heat, champions.