Today's Papers

Deadly Coordination

The New York Timesand Los Angeles Timeslead with yesterday’s coordinated attack by Sunni insurgents on a recently opened American combat outpost north of Baghdad that killed two American soldiers and wounded 17. (The Washington Post stuffs the story and says three U.S. soldiers were killed.) Everybody mentions, but the LAT emphasizes, this attack could be a sign of things to come as the new security crackdown takes shape and more U.S. troops are sent to small and vulnerable posts in dangerous neighborhoods. The Wall Street Journal tops its world-wide newsbox with an Iraq roundup that goes high with the attack.

USA Todayleads with word that law enforcement agencies across the United States are “upgrading” their weapons to be better prepared for what many see as an increased number of people who have powerful arms at their disposal. Several departments are either increasing the number of weapons or giving their officers military-style arms to deal with the problem. Some say civilians have been able to get the more powerful arms more easily since a ban on several assault weapons expired in 2004. The WPleads with news that Walter Reed Army Medical Center has begun repairs on Building 18, which houses patients recovering from war wounds. In a two- part series, the paper shone an often-disturbing light on the deplorable conditions many injured service members have had to endure. Officials pretty much admit they took action because of the Post’sstories.

The attack involved at least one car bomb, which was followed by insurgents firing on the outpost from various directions. Although U.S. outposts are frequently attacked from a distance, yesterday’s coordinated frontal attack could be seen as a shift toward more-aggressive tactics. Meanwhile, attacks continued on Shiite civilians and Iraqi security forces. After yesterday’s papers mentioned there had been a decrease in the number of bodies found around Baghdad, at least 20 were discovered yesterday.

The NYT and LAT report the U.S. military announced the death of four more troops since Saturday. The WP has a higher number and says the military said seven service members were killed in “recent days.”

In their stories about the attack, the papers also mention that a woman went on Al Jazeera and said she had been kidnapped and raped by members of the Iraqi National Police. The WP says that although the prime minister’s office at first announced there would be an investigation, hours later it issued a statement saying the claims were unfounded. The NYT mentions it’s rare for victims of rape to come forward in Muslim countries.

The NYT and WP front the announcement by U.S. satellite radio companies that they are planning to merge. Sirius and XM have spent millions of dollars trying to get people to pay for radio, while facing billions of dollars in losses. The merger would have to get approval from the Justice Department and the Federal Communications Commission. Although there are obviously concerns that letting the two unite would create a monopoly, the companies will argue they face plenty of competition for the public’s ears with MP3 players, Internet radio, and mobile phones.

The papers mention that little came of the American-sponsored meeting between Israeli and Palestinian leaders yesterday beyond a promise of more talks. Regardless, Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice called it a “useful and productive meeting.”

Adding another chapter to the controversies surrounding Walter Reed, the Post fronts word that the hospital launched an investigation into the man who was in charge of helping match needy wounded soldiers with donors. Some allege that Michael J. Wagner inappropriately used his position to solicit funds for his own new charity. Wagner resigned last month to work full time on his Military, Veteran and Family Assistance Foundation. Officials started their investigation after the Post began asking questions. 

The WSJ fronts a look at how oil-rich Iran may start rationing gasoline to its own citizens as increased local consumption threatens to disrupt the country’s exports. Western sanctions and the country’s policies have led to little foreign investment on developing oil fields, which means production is stagnant and the paper says Iran’s oil exports could “dry up in as little as a decade.” The paper also mentions several oil-rich countries are seeing a large increase in local demand for gasoline, which could bring them problems, and raise prices, down the road.

The NYT fronts a look at what the Libby trial has revealed about the way Vice President Cheney was given wide latitude to work independently and pursue his own interests. Among other revelations, the trial has shown how Cheney and Libby used classified intelligence data for their own purposes, and it has raised questions as to whether the vice president, “known as a consummate inside player, operated as effectively as his reputation would hold.” Meanwhile, the WP goes inside with its own look at the vice president and says Cheney’s influence within the White House has been in steady decline ever since the beginning of Bush’s second term.

Say it ain’t so! The NYT examines the American Idol phenomenon and says the show has gone against all television conventional wisdom by actually seeing an increase in ratings, even though it’s currently in its sixth season. To put the ratings in perspective, the program “could lose half its audience and still rank among the top 10 shows on television.” Meanwhile, other networks are forced to switch their programs around to not compete with what the chief scheduler for CBS called “the ultimate schoolyard bully.” Jeff Zucker, the new chief executive of NBC Universal, gives the most depressing assessment: “I think Idol is the most impactful show in the history of television.”