Today's Papers

Compromise Accomplished

The Washington Postleads with Democratic and Republican senators who oppose President Bush’s plan to send more troops to Iraq announcing last night they have reached a compromise and will support a resolution put forward by Republican Sen. John Warner of Virginia. The nonbinding resolution isn’t as strongly worded as the one Democrats preferred, but after Warner made some changes they decided it was their best chance to get Republican support. The Los Angeles Timesleads with a look at how Iraq’s northern city of Kirkuk “could develop into a third front in the country’s civil war” as different groups vie to control the oil-rich region. The Wall Street Journal tops its world-wide newsbox with the latest quarterly report on Iraq reconstruction that found tens of millions of dollars were wasted. The paper also notes Iraq has stopped all flights to and from Syria and closed one border crossing with Iran as the government prepares for a security crackdown.

The New York Timesleads news that a German court issued arrest warrants for 13 people who were part of a CIA “abduction team” that detained a German citizen and held him for five months in Afghanistan. German authorities did not name the suspects, and said they were still trying to determine their true identities. The NYT notes the LAT was the first to report the story. USA Todayleads with an early look at a study that says oil from the 1989 Exxon Valdez spill continues to cause problems to the ecosystem and wildlife. It’s going to take longer for the oil to disappear than many predicted and it “will be readily detectable for decades,” a scientist tells the paper. 

The basic gist of the resolution is the same: The Senate is opposed to the troop increase. Warner agreed to drop his initial wording that supported more troops for Anbar province. The resolution also won’t state that Bush’s plan goes against the national interest and includes language saying the Senate vows not to decrease funding for troops in the field. Democratic leaders in the House said they will write a resolution using the Senate’s as a blueprint.

Kirkuk residents say they don’t want war, but everyone “appears to be preparing for it,” says the LAT. Kurds are dominant in the area, but Sunnis and Shiites also want a piece of the action and insist they will fight if necessary. To make matters even more complicated, this goes beyond Iraq, as Turkey and Iran are worried that if the Kurds do take control of Kirkurk, it could lead to an independent Kurdish region, which might “embolden Kurdish militants.” In advance of a constitutionally mandated referendum, some Kurdish officials are trying to remove voting rights of thousands of Arabs in the area, while pressuring them to leave. Officials in Turkey have vowed to intervene if necessary to maintain the population balance.

Just in case you thought the details of the militia group that fought with Iraqi and American troops on Sunday couldn’t get more confusing, the NYT goes inside with the latest. Some Iraqi officials are now saying the leader of the group was a Sunni who was pretending to be a Shiite. Meanwhile, the U.S. military announced the death of four more American servicemembers. The LAT reports figures from the ministries of defense and health that reveal at least 2,067 Iraqis were killed in January.

All the papers note that after much wrangling back and forth, the Justice Department has agreed to turn over files about its eavesdropping program to a select group of lawmakers but not to the public. The documents should, at the very least, reveal whether the court overseeing the program will approve requests individually or if it issued a blanket warrant allowing eavesdropping on a group of people.

The NYT fronts, and everyone mentions, Sen. Joseph Biden of Delawere announcing he will run for president. Everyone focuses on how Biden was forced to spend the day trying to explain an interview in which he said Sen. Barack Obama is “the first mainstream African-American who is articulate and bright and clean and a nice-looking guy.”

The NYT fronts a look at the fascinating story of a 29-year-old sex offender who pretended to be a 12-year-old for almost two years and lately had enrolled in a public school in Arizona for four months. He lived with three other men who passed themselves off as family members but were really a group of sex offenders. And, to make things even stranger, it seems two of the men he lived with and had sex with actually thought he was a minor. 

Everyone goes inside with the latest from the Libby trial, where, contrary to what most of the papers predicted yesterday, defense attorneys were able to question Judith Miller on her other sources. Turns out, she couldn’t remember other officials with whom she had talked about Valerie Plame.

Then it was Time’s Matt Cooper’s turn, and he testified that Karl Rove was the first to tell him about Joseph Wilson’s wife. He then got confirmation from Libby. The defense homed in on what it characterized as Cooper’s sloppy notes to attack his credibility. There was also discussion of how Cooper talked to Libby on a Saturday while “sprawled” on his bed after he had spent the morning swimming at a country club.

In a separate Page One analysis, the LAT says that in “many respects it is the ugly mutual exploitation that goes on every day in Washington between powerful government officials and influential members of the media that is on trial.”

Everyone notes the death of Molly Ivins, the liberal syndicated columnist who dedicated much of her work to making fun of powerful politicians. President Bush, a fellow Texan, was one of her most frequent targets. The WP says more than 400 newspapers subscribed to her column. Ivins was 62.