Today's Papers

To Catch a Terrorist

The Washington Postleads with President Bush asking Congress to support the warrantless eavesdropping program. The Wall Street Journal tops its world-wide newsbox with the speech in which Bush made his request, where the president outlined all the things his administration has done to capture terrorists and keep the country safe. The New York Timesleads with opposition from some Republican lawmakers and military lawyers to the administration’s plan to bring alleged terrorists to trial. Some fear any legal challenges to this new system will probably be successful. The Los Angeles Timesleads locally, but its top nonlocal spot goes to a follow-up from yesterday looking at how even though the military banned extreme interrogation methods on Wednesday, the CIA could still use these techniques under Bush’s plan. The NYT also fronts a separate story about this today.  USA Todayleads with scientists discovering many of the genes responsible for causing breast and colorectal cancers. Scientists say this is a breakthrough because it will allow doctors to personalize each person’s cancer treatment.

In expressing the need for the warrantless eavesdropping program, Bush said “the nature of communications has changed quite dramatically” and urged Congress to pass laws that take into account these changes. In his speech, the president once again said the country is safer than on Sept. 11 but still faces threats. Democrats are accusing the president of, as the WSJ puts it, “pre-election fearmongering.”

One of the main disagreements with Bush’s military tribunal proposal has to do with the provision allowing judges to deny an accused terrorist the right to see classified evidence that could be used to sentence him to death. Some senators argued the system has to be fair to repair the country’s reputation abroad.

The Post has the best and most detailed story on the administration’s decision process leading up to yesterday’s announcement. Deciding to fly the remaining 14 “high value” terrorists to Guantanamo on Sunday night (they arrived on Monday) marked the end of a two-year debate inside the administration, which included outside pressure from British Prime Minister Tony Blair. These debates over the secret prisons often pitted Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, who wanted to empty out the prisons, against Vice President Dick Cheney.

The NYT fronts, and everybody else reefers, British Prime Minister Tony Blair’s announcement that he will resign sometime within the next 12 months. Blair has been facing decreasing popularity and increasing pressure from within his own party to step aside. In his remarks, the prime minister apologized for the public arguments in his own party declaring that it “has not been our finest hour.” In its inside pages the NYT also provides interesting historical context of Blair’s tenuous relationship with Chancellor Gordon Brown, the most likely candidate to take over as the Labor Party’s leader. “They hate each other—really, madly, deeply,” a writer tells the paper.

The NYT, WP, and LAT stuff word that the Baghdad’s morgue preliminary estimate of the violent deaths in August was off by almost 1,000 people. U.S. and Iraqi officials had cited the figure as evidence that their security operations were working. The preliminary number set the number of violent deaths in Baghdad at 550, but yesterday authorities said the number was actually 1,536. Regardless, the number is still less than the 1,855 deaths reported in July. The WP helpfully mentions that many of those who die violently in Baghdad do not end up in the morgue and are not included in the figure.

Buried in the last line of the NYT’s and LAT’s stories about Iraq is news that the U.S. military announced yesterday the death of two U.S. soldiers and a Marine as a result of hostile fire. The LAT catches news of an explosion near the U.S. Embassy in Kabul. Early morning wire reports say a driver with a car full of explosives killed at least least 10 people, including two American soldiers.

The LAT fronts a mostly feel-good feature about Baghdad’s traffic police, who many citizens say are one of the few aspects of the city that seems to be working well.

The Post goes inside with what is purported to be the first audiotape released by the new leader of al-Qaida in Iraq, Abu Hamza al-Muhajer. In the tape, he vows to revenge the death of Abu Musab al-Zarqawi.

The NYT mentions the new video broadcast by al-Jazeera that shows Osama Bin Laden and other members of al-Qaida planning the Sept. 11 attacks. The video also includes what is thought to be the last statements of two of the hijackers. Most of the other papers cover this story with wire copy.

The WP and USAT mention the NATO commander who said his officers are facing stronger resistance than expected in Afghanistan and urged alliance members to send more troops and equipment. The commander said countries have sent only about 85 percent of their promised commitment to the effort.

Everybody mentions that Richard Armitage, the former deputy secretary of state, confirmed he was the main source of the Valerie Plame leak. He said he didn’t come forward earlier because the special prosecutor asked him not to say anything. The NYT emphasizes Armitage’s remorse. “It was a terrible error on my part,” he said. The WP focuses on Armitage saying he was not aware of Plame’s covert status when he learned her name from a State Department memo. Mentioning his decades of experience with classified material, he said he had never before “seen in a memo … a covert agent’s name.”  

The LAT and WSJ front, while the rest mention in their business sections, the latest development in the investigation into whether some of Hewlett-Packard’s board members hired private investigators to spy on other board members. They apparently wanted to discover who was leaking information to the press and new revelations seem to show these investigators also looked into nine reporters who cover the company. The investigators allegedly lied their way into getting phone records of board members and journalists, using a technique known as pretexting. The WSJ says pretexting is a growing threat and gives tips on how people can protect themselves.

In its business pages, the NYT wonders whether conservative research groups, such as the American Enterprise Institute and the Heritage Foundation, should disclose the fact that they receive money from the Walton Family Foundation when they write positive articles about Wal-Mart. The paper says at least five research groups that have publicly advocated for the company received money from the foundation. The NYT is quick to point out the views these groups express about the company are consistent with their overall philosophy.

The LAT fronts a look into the mystery of Lonelygirl15. Anyone obsessed with YouTube has at least seen her videos in the most viewed lists. Now, increasing evidence seems to show the alleged 16-year-old might be a fake. And not just a regular Internet fake, but perhaps a concoction by Hollywood producers to market a movie. Some traced back an e-mail sent by Lonelygirl15 and said it came from inside the offices of Creative Artists Agency, while others say the scenery in some outside shots looks like Los Angeles. Nothing has quite been proved yet, but it might turn out to be an example of a new way to begin a marketing campaign and get people talking about a product.