Today's Papers

Meeting With the Enemy

The New York Timesleads with word that the U.S. ambassador to Iraq, Zalmay Khalilzad, held talks with representatives of insurgent groups last year. The paper got the scoop in a “farewell interview” with the departing ambassador, who became the first U.S. official to publicly recognize that any meetings of this kind ever took place. USA Todayleads with the increasing number of police crime labs that are adding DNA from suspects to their own databases and then using this data to find the culprits of unrelated crimes. The Wall Street Journal tops its world-wide newsbox with the Iranian government’s denouncing the new sanctions and announcing that it would limit cooperation with the U.N. nuclear watchdog agency. Calling the sanctions illegal, Iran’s government said it would continue its nuclear program.

The Los Angeles Timesleads with a look at how Congress might cut some payments to a Medicare program that is popular with senior citizens in order to afford its efforts to provide health insurance to uninsured children. The paper says these sort of “trade-offs” could become common in the future as the cost of caring for the nation’s seniors continues to increase. According to one analyst, “It’s getting to the point where you are going to have to ask the dreaded question: Is it children or the elderly?” The Washington Postleads with a look at how immigrants are “among the first victims” of the growing number of home foreclosures around the country. The increase of immigrants who were buying homes was widely seen as a good news story. But as the subprime mortgage market begins to unravel and rates increase, immigrants with lower incomes are finding it difficult to keep up with payments.

Merely meeting with representatives of Iraqi insurgent groups seems to go against the contention by several senior administration officials that the United States does not negotiate with insurgents. But regardless, it doesn’t seem like the meetings were very fruitful. According to some sources, they began in early 2006 but had collapsed by the summer after the bombing of the golden dome shrine in Samarra. During the interview, Khalilzad also said that the Iraqi and U.S. governments should consider granting amnesty to insurgents. As Khalilzad prepares to end his tenure, the NYT says he will mostly be remembered for his efforts to draw in Iraq’s Sunnis to the political process. This brought him criticism from some who accused Khalilzad of playing favorites because he is an Afghan Sunni.

Some claim that storing data from people who have never been convicted of a crime violates privacy rights. To be included in the main FBI DNA database, suspects must have been convicted or indicted for a crime. But advocates insist that keeping this information has helped solve crimes and there is no law forbidding the practice. Crime labs in at least five states have their own databases for DNA information that can’t go in the main FBI database.

The WSJ also goes high with Iran’s announcement that it might charge the 15 detained British sailors and marines with illegally entering its waters. All the papers go inside with Prime Minister Tony Blair’s denying the service members were in Iranian waters and calling the detentions “unjustified and wrong” as well as “very serious.”

The LAT fronts, and the rest of the papers go inside with, the way in which the Sunday talk shows illustrated how Attorney General Alberto Gonzales continues to lose support among lawmakers as three Republican senators expressed concerns over how he has handled the scandal surrounding the fired U.S. attorneys. “He has said some things that just don’t add up,” Sen. Lindsey Graham of South Carolina said. Gonzales is set to testify before the Senate judiciary committee on April 17 and says that appearance will be a “make-or-break situation for him,” Sen. Arlen Specter of Pennsylvania said.

Meanwhile, the WSJ goes inside with a look at how the U.S. attorneys controversy has created a division inside the Justice Department between those who support Gonzales and those who are loyal to Deputy Attorney General Paul McNulty. The paper says some of this “internal tension could come to a head” when Kyle Sampson, the attorney general’s former chief of staff, testifies before the Senate judiciary committee Thursday.

Inside, the LAT says three of the fired U.S. attorneys were often reluctant to seek the death penalty. Although issues relating to the death penalty were never mentioned as a reason for any dismissals, it could cast further light into how some of the prosecutors differed with the administration on basic priorities.

The NYT fronts a good dispatch from Baghdad that looks at how most Sunni neighborhoods in Baghdad are much worse off than the parts of the city where Shiites are the majority. One reason for this is that Sunni insurgents do not hesitate to kill other Sunnis who are seen as collaborators. This has resulted in government workers from either sect refusing to deliver services to Sunni areas. Everyone goes inside with news that five U.S. soldiers were killed in two roadside bombings in Iraq yesterday.

In the WP, Robert Novak says the scandal over the U.S. attorneys shows how in his final two years in office, “Bush is alone.” The columnist says that in the last 50 years he has not seen a president that was as “isolated from his own party in Congress,” and that’s including Jimmy Carter and Richard Nixon.