The New York Times and Los Angeles Timeslead, while the Wall Street Journal tops its world-wide newsbox, with the latest news out of Iraq. The NYT and WSJ go high with word that a raid by Iraqi and British troops found about 30 prisoners, some with signs of torture, at the offices of an Iraqi intelligence agency in Basra. The LAT mentions the raid in Basra near the end of its lead story and instead focuses on news that U.S. and Iraqi troops moved into Sadr City yesterday as part of the new security crackdown. Troops have been reluctant to go into Sadr City out of fear it would cause a resurgence of Muqtada Sadr’s Mahdi Army, but yesterday’s limited incursion went off without incident.
USA Todayleads with word that Iraq’s Interior Ministry has fired or reassigned more than 10,000 employees for torturing prisoners, having ties to militias, or accepting bribes. More than half of those fired or reassigned were found to have ties to militias. (Note: Perhaps because of the redesign of usatoday.com, editors didn’t post the paper’s print edition this morning, so TP was unable to see most of the stories inside the paper.) The Washington Postleads with a look at how Bush administration officials refuse to talk about options that might be pursued if the new plan for Iraq doesn’t succeed. Meanwhile, experts outside the government are discussing what a Plan B might look like.
The events in Basra largely caught Iraq’s government by surprise, and, as seems to be the norm these days, Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki had a reaction that is sure to raise some eyebrows. He didn’t mention the claims of torture and instead chose to condemn the raid. Maliki ordered an investigation into the raid in Basra emphasizing “the need to punish those who have carried out this illegal and irresponsible act,” according to a statement issued by his office. The WP reports that all of the prisoners escaped after the surprise raid. The NYT reminds readers that the British government recently announced it will remove a number of its toops, saying that Iraqi forces can provide security for the region. This wasn’t the first time troops found prisons run by a government agency where detainees had signs of torture.
The incursion into Sadr City by more than 600 U.S. soldiers and 550 Iraqi troops lasted only a few hours, but it marked the largest operation into the area in more than three years. The NYT says the incursion was “widely anticipated for days” and it “lacked any element of surprise” because it came after much negotiation with neighborhood leaders and representatives of Sadr. The LAT makes sure to emphasize that it is still unclear “how long things will stay quiet” and how militia members will react when troops set up a “permanent presence” in the area.
The U.S. military announced that three more service members were killed in Iraq.
USAT also mentions in its lead story that a report by the Interior Ministry’s inspector general, which is due to be released this week, found 41 incidents of human rights abuse at the ministry. The inspector general found 120 cases of corruption, and 49 missing persons that were being held in the Interior Ministry’s own prisons.
Most of the plans for Iraq that are currently being discussed by outside experts involve some sort of “redeployment from Baghdad and other violent urban centers,” which would be followed by what seems likely to become the new buzz word: containment. Under this type of plan, if Iraq falls into open civil war, U.S. troops would focus on patrolling the borders to prevent a larger regional conflict. Some are skeptical and say that if U.S. troops were to stay on the sidelines as Iraqis kill each other it would only make matters worse.
All the papers mention that at least eight (the NYT says 16) civilians were killed yesterday in Afghanistan after a suicide bombing targeting an American military convoy led to “chaotic gunfire.” Hundreds of Afghans went out into the streets and shouted anti-American and anti-government slogans. Although U.S. officials say the civilians were caught in the middle of shooting between troops and militants, many accused the Americans of shooting indiscriminately on a busy road.
The WP fronts, and the NYT goes inside with, news that Republican Sen. Pete Domenici of New Mexico admitted yesterday that he called U.S. Attorney David Iglesias to inquire about a corruption case. Domenici said he regretted making the call, which experts say violated congressional ethics rules, but the senator insists he “never pressured him nor threatened him in any way.” Domenici also said he told the Justice Department it should replace Iglesias but emphasizes this was before he called the prosecutor.
While officials are reacting to the recent revelations of the problems facing outpatients at Walter Reed Army Medical Center, the Post fronts a look at how veterans say this is no isolated event as many face similar problems in facilities across the country.
Everybody mentions the death of Thomas F. Eagleton, a former U.S. senator, who is best known for having been a Democratic vice presidential candidate for 18 days in 1972. Sen. George McGovern asked the young Missouri senator to be his vice president but forced him out after it was revealed that Eagleton had been hospitalized three times for depression and that his treatment included electroshock therapy. Eagleton was 77.