Today's Papers

Space Cowboys

The Los Angeles Times leads with President Bush signing the new detainee legislation into law. The New York Times leads with the Iraqi government firing its top two police officials. The Washington Post leads with the Bush administration’s new space policy, which emphasizes unilateralism and defense over exploration. The Wall Street Journal tops its world-wide newsbox with Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice going to Asia to drum up support for aggressive inspections of North Korean cargo. USA Today leads with the Transportation Security Administration looking at buying 3-D X-ray machines that would be better at finding liquid bombs as well as more standard weapons like guns and knives.

The lawsuits were flying as the detainee law went into effect. Two hours after Bush signed the law, the Justice Department moved to throw out dozens of lawsuits filed by suspected terrorists. And lawyers for detainees filed suit asking for time to put together a case that the new law is unconstitutional. The LAT notes that several issues related to the law are probably headed for the Supreme Court. The Post, which stuffs the story, does a somewhat better job of explaining what the law actually says.

The Iraqi police are heavily infiltrated by Shiite militia members, and the U.S. is pressuring Baghdad to do something about it; thus the firings. One man is replacing the two who were let go, and he hasn’t been named yet—security arrangements need to be made for his family. Also mentioned in the NYT story: The bloody fighting over the weekend north of Baghdad was not just the work of locals. Followers of Moqtada al-Sadr came up from the south to join in as well, one of the fighters tells the Times.

The Post reports from just outside Balad, where U.S. troops were patrolling, but both Sunnis and Shiites seethed and waited for revenge. Thirteen carloads of men were kidnapped at a police checkpoint and taken to “an area known to be a Sunni insurgent dumping ground for murder victims.”

The Journal fronts a good investigation into the shoddy, pointless training of the U.S. troops who advise the nascent Iraqi forces—ostensibly the linchpin of U.S. strategy there. “In my 28 years of military service I have never seen such an appalling approach to training,” said one of the officers who went through the training. The story includes links to two after-action reviews from officers who went through the training; they’re pretty entertaining reading. “It’s a good thing that the newspapers did not get a hold of this fiasco,” reads one. Oops.

The Post is the first of the big papers to report on the new space policy, which came out more than a week ago. It’s not radically different from the last space policy, published in 1996, but it does place more emphasis on using space to aid military operations on Earth. The Post focuses on the issue of space weapons; the new policy doesn’t support putting weapons in space, but it also doesn’t repudiate the idea.

Pre-election Republican implosion, episode 56: Social conservatives are starting to openly question the GOP’s “big tent” strategy of including nontraditional, in particular gay, Republicans, reports the LAT on the front page. Someone has recently been circulating a list of gay Republican congressional staffers, and there is talk of a “pink purge.” Says one evangelical: “All a big tent strategy seems to be doing is attracting a bunch of clowns.”

The Post fronts an analysis looking at how a Democratic victory in the midterm congressional elections would affect Bush’s governance. It seems that his only option would be to adopt the sort of bipartisanship he promised before being elected in 2000, and that Arnold Schwarzenegger has successfully used in California.

Bush’s wishful-thinking model of policy-planning appears not to be exclusive to the Iraq war, according to the Post, which buries this detail deep down in the story: “Bush has been preparing his post-election agenda in a series of meetings, sitting down one-on-one with nine members of his Cabinet in the past month to review ideas. Bush insists that the sessions not consider a victory by Democrats, participants said.”

On the op-ed page, the Post’s Harold Meyerson offers a look at what the Democrats themselves might do if they win the House, including “raising the minimum wage, repealing the Medicare legislation that forbids the government from negotiating with drug companies for lower prices, replenishing student loan programs, funding stem cell research and implementing those recommendations of the Sept. 11 commission that have thus far languished.”

Also in the papers … Chinese automakers are stepping back from plans to start exporting to the U.S. as soon as next year, the NYT reports on the front page. Morale is low among Sudanese soldiers fighting in Darfur, the NYT finds. The FBI is investigating ties between Rep. Curt Weldon, R-Pa., and a shady Serbian businessman, the Post reports. Everyone wants theirs to be the 300 millionth American baby.

The NYT fronts a dispatch from the school-lunch wars in Britain, where junk food sounds a lot junkier than in the U.S. Among the lunches popular with schoolkids there: a “chip butty,” which the Times describes as a “French-fries-and-butter sandwich doused in vinegar.” But do-gooders are making schools serve healthy lunches, and kids are rebelling, enabled by parents like Julie Critchlow. “[S]he and another mother—alarmed, they said, because their children were going hungry—began selling contraband hamburgers, fries and sandwiches to as many as 50 students a day, passing the food through the school gates. The mothers closed their business after they were vilified in the national news media as ‘meat pie mums.’ Mrs. Critchlow now feeds her children lunch at home.”