The Washington Postleads with Lebanon’s government, as expected, ordering its army into the south after it hammered out a don’t-show don’t-search deal with Hezbollah: The guerrilla group isn’t supposed to flash its weapons and the Lebanese army won’t go looking for them. The Post dubs it a “compromise whose contours remained indistinct.” The New York Times’ lead concludes that while attention in terms of Iraq has shifted to sectarianism, the insurgency has … gotten worse. The number of attacks against U.S. and Iraqi forces has doubled since January, with most of them still against U.S. forces. USA Todayleads with the Democratic Party pushing money into a few strategic secretary of state races. The reason: They don’t want to face another Katherine Harris circa 2000 situation. The Los Angeles Timesleads with the Coast Guard arresting a major Mexican drug kingpin off the coast of Baja.
“Just like in the past,” said one Hezbollah leader, “Hezbollah had no visible military presence and there will not be any presence now.”
Israel didn’t seem thrilled with the terms but isn’t making a big fuss. As Lebanese troops began moving in this morning, Israel said it has begun “transferring responsibility” to them.
The Wall Street Journal goes high with Lebanese officials ticked that the U.S. and others haven’t ponied up much for aid. Americans “ask us to do a lot, and they don’t help us to do it, which is so different from what the Iranians have done to help Hezbollah,” said Lebanon’s interior minister.
Hezbollah, on the other hand, seems to be doing a bang-up job on reconstruction. The NYT talks to one Hezbollah worker—an architect handing out “damage assessment” forms. “The work being done now was prepared over the past month, with the collaboration of architects and engineers.” He said he was one of about 250 architects and engineers surveying the damage. Hezbollah, ever courteous, even set up a tent and chairs for reporters to watch the action.
“The insurgency has gotten worse by almost all measures, with insurgent attacks at historically high levels,” a “senior Defense Department official” told the NYT. While GI deaths have held steady this year, the number of wounded per month has doubled since January to 518 in July. Some of the Times’ stats come from a military intelligence report that has the “most recent empirical data on the number of attacks” and has been making the rounds on Capitol Hill.
Meanwhile, dropped at the end of the NYT’s piece is this intriguing bit from a “military affairs expert” who recently had a sit-down at the White House: He said, “Senior administration officials have acknowledged to me that they are considering alternatives other than democracy.”
As only the WP fronts,there was fighting in southern Iraq between rival Shiite militias and, in places, Iraqi and British forces. About a dozen people were killed. The Post declares that the once relatively peaceful south “appears to be spiraling into an abyss of violence.” As for Baghdad, it was normal day: Three bombs in the city center killed about 20 people.
The NYT fronts a government test program in which airport screeners have focused on passengers’ reaction to questions (just as Israel famously does). Two experts who’ve helped develop the approach say they’re happy the government is trying it out but say the implementation has been flawed.
The Journal has a poll showing rising support for government snooping and surveillance (so long as Congress OKs it).
NBC News reported last week that British counterterrorism officials thought the apparent plane plot was farther off than U.S. officials asserted—reportedly some of the men didn’t even have passports. Now an Associated Press update on the investigation mentions in passing that “two top Pakistani intelligence agents” said the would-be bombers were too “inexperienced” to carry out the plot. Follow-up, please.
Everybody fronts the arrest of an American man in Bangkok suspected in the decade-ago killing of JonBenet Ramsey. A top Thai police official told reporters this morning that the man has confessed. Investigators once said JonBenet’s parents were under an “umbrella of suspicion” in the murder. JonBenet’s mother died earlier this year—about a month after she learned police had their eye on somebody.
The Post’soff-lead notices that D.C. lobbyists—betting that the House and/or Senate will flip—are increasingly hiring Democrats. “We’ve seen a noticeable shift,” said one headhunter for lobbyists.
Everybody flags the death of Paraguay’s once long-standing dictator, Alfredo Stroessner. The NYT’s obit quotes from a 1984 Times Magazine piece profiling Stroessner’s rule:
A continual state of siege over the entire period that literally places the president above the law; people with occasionally uncontrollable urges to fall into rivers or jump from planes with their arms and legs bound; serenades in front of the presidential palace featuring the ever-popular ‘Forward, My General’ and ‘Congratulations, My Great Friend’; foreign thieves, brutes and madmen hidden at a price; an economy administered so corruptly it is officially explained away as the ‘cost of peace’; a United Nations voting record on so-called key issues more favorable to the United States than any other ‘ally.’
“Fear became our second skin,” said one teacher who was branded an “intellectual terrorist” and tortured.