Everybody leads with the Senate armed services committee going against the Bush administration by passing an alternative plan to interrogate and try terrorism suspects. In the past few days, President Bush has made it clear he will not approve this alternate version, stating it would hamper the CIA’s ability to interrogate suspected terrorists. Three Republican senators, including John McCain from Arizona, joined the committee chairman, Sen. John W. Warner from Virginia, in voting with the Democrats to approve this alternative plan. Former Secretary of State Colin Powell wrote a letter to McCain expressing his support, saying the world has begun to “doubt the moral basis of our fight against terrorism” and the White House proposal “would put our own troops at risk.”
The Washington Postsays yesterday’s vote has created a “legislative showdown” on an issue that was supposed to show the unity of Republicans before November. The Wall Street Journal says the disagreements raise “the prospect of a messy floor battle among Republicans.” The Los Angeles Timespoints out the issue has once again pitted Bush against McCain, who has frequently expressed disagreement with the president’s policies. The New York Timesnotes Powell’s letter was a “rare public breach with the White House he served.” USA Todayquotes Republican Sen. John Cornyn from Texas, who supports Bush’s plans but recognizes the administration will face “an uphill battle” in the Senate.
McCain said CIA Director Michael Hayden is “trying to protect his reputation at the risk of America’s reputation.” The main points of contention include the techniques the CIA can use when interrogating detainees and whether alleged terrorists can be convicted with classified evidence that the defendants aren’t allowed to see. “It is one of those rare Congressional moments when the policy is as monumental as the politics,” says a NYT analysis.
So far, it appears there is enough support among Republicans for the alternative plan to pass the full Senate. If that happens, it will probably lead to more infighting because the House is likely to approve President Bush’s plan.
The WP and NYT both off-lead news that Ford Motor Company will offer its 75,000 U.S. hourly workers buyouts and incentives to leave the company. The packages, which could range from $35,000 to $140,000, are similar to those General Motors offered earlier this year.
The NYT and WSJ get word that Ohio Republican Rep. Bob Ney will plead guilty to criminal charges relating to his connections with disgraced lobbyist Jack Abramoff. He would be the first congressman to admit to criminal charges relating to Abramoff. Although the details are still not clear, lawyers expect Ney will have to serve some time in prison.
The LAT goes inside with the latest casualty figures from Iraq, where at least 41 people were killed or found dead yesterday. The military also announced the death of five U.S. soldiers. Most of the other papers either bury or ignore the news.
The LAT fronts, while the NYT and USAT go inside with,the increasing controversy surrounding Pope Benedict XVI as a result of comments he made about Islam. In criticizing the concept of holy war in a speech on Tuesday, Benedict quoted a 14th-century Byzantine emperor as saying, “Show me just what Muhammad brought that was new, and there you will find things only evil and inhuman.” These statements could threaten a trip the pope is scheduled to take to Turkey.
The Post fronts, while everyone else mentions, the House agreeing to change its earmark rules so members are now forced to identify themselves when inserting spending provisions into legislation. Critics contend this is a small step for a Congress that earlier this year promised to increase transparency. Some members complain the new rule unfairly targets appropriations bills and would allow some anonymous earmarks in tax bills.
The WSJ says the World Health Organization will begin encouraging the use of DDT in areas at high risk of malaria. The use of a controversial pesticide, which is banned in much of the world, can be seen as a sign that other methods to fight the disease have not been successful.
USAT fronts a look at a trend of new cities hiring private companies to run their local government. Although it is common for certain city services to be privatized, a few cities have turned almost all of the bureaucracy to private companies. Advocates of this system say it is cheaper and more efficient, but some fear it could create a “shadow government.”
The LAT fronts, and everybody else mentions, the FDA warning consumers not to eat commercially bagged fresh spinach because of a recent outbreak of E. coli. So far, approximately 50 people in eight (the WP says nine) states have gotten sick and one died as a result of the foodborne illness.
The LAT and WP go inside with the chief judge in Saddam Hussein’s genocide trial saying in court that the former president was not a dictator. “You were not a dictator,” the judge said, “however, the people or individuals and officials surrounding you created a dictator. It was not you in particular.” The statement came a day after prosecutors at the trial demanded the judge resign because he had allowed “the defendants to treat the chamber as a political forum.”
Everybody mentions the gunman in Montreal who killed one student and injured 19 people on Wednesday before shooting himself had a blog on a goth Web site. He wrote about his hatred of the world, as well as his love for guns and video games.
Over in the WP’s op-ed page David Ignatius tells of his one-on-one interview with President Bush where the two talked about Iran. After the interview, Ignatius says he “came away with a sense that Bush is serious about finding a peaceful solution to the nuclear crisis.” In his column, Charles Krauthammer analyzes one of Bush’s public statements, which leads him to state, “the signal is unmistakable. An aerial attack on Iran’s nuclear facilities lies just beyond the horizon of diplomacy.” After writing about the possible costs and benefits of attacking Iran, Krauthammer concludes, “the decision is no more than a year away.”