The New York Times leads with word that Russia has warned Iran that it will not provide nuclear fuel for its almost-completed power plant in Bushehr unless Iran agrees to U.N. Security Council demands to stop uranium enrichment. President Bush has frequently tried to convince Russian President Vladimir Putin to stop cooperating on Iran’s nuclear plant but has mostly failed because the project is quite profitable for Russia. The Washington Post leads with a look at how the decision by Democratic leaders to include several billion dollars for various domestic priorities inside the $124 billion war-funding bill is causing some Republicans and conservative Democrats to remain undecided on how they will vote.
USA Todayleads with more results from the survey of Iraqis it sponsored with three other news outlets that once again shows there are deep divisions among Iraqis on what they want for the future. Although Kurds largely favor a democracy, Sunnis support a strongman who would be leader for life. Also, 58 percent of those surveyed said they want a unified Iraq, but a majority predicted that within five years the country will be divided into regional governments. The Wall Street Journal tops its world-wide newsbox with President Bush’s speech marking the fourth anniversary of the invasion of Iraq in which he asked Americans for patience. Bush insisted victory is still possible and said there were “hopeful signs” from the new security plan. The Los Angeles Times leads with revelations that Cardinal Roger M. Mahony wrote a letter to the Vatican where he described how a priest had videotaped “partially naked” boys and it was “objective verification that criminal behavior did occur.” Six months later, Mahony publicly said the boys in the tape were “fully clothed” and insisted it didn’t show sexual activity.
The true motive behind Russia’s warning might be more financial than political as there have been some public disagreements over whether Iran has been paying its bills. Regardless, some see it as a sign that the United States and Russia can still cooperate on key issues and that officials in Moscow are growing tired of Iran’s insistence that it has the right to enrich uranium. American officials have been busy trying to make sure that Russia can benefit economically if it chooses to support U.N. sanctions against Iran.
Democratic leaders insist the domestic-spending provisions were added to the war-funding bill because they were not able to get the money during the era of Republican control. But others see this as playing political games with war funding, and Republican leaders say Democrats are simply trying to buy votes. In a formal veto statement, the White House criticized the “excessive and extraneous non-emergency spending” and said the bill “would place freedom and democracy in Iraq at grave risk.”
An ABC News survey in 2005 found that 57 percent of Iraqis say they want a democracy; that number has now gone down to 43 percent. Meanwhile, 94 percent of Sunnis and 51 percent of Shiites said that attacking U.S. troops is an acceptable political act. Although 83 percent of Shiites and 97 percent of Sunnis oppose the presence of coalition troops in Iraq (75 percent of Kurds support them), only 35 percent of Iraqis think U.S. forces should leave immediately.
Last night the Justice Department released more than 3,000 pages of new documents relating to the firing of eight U.S. attorneys with hopes that they’ll prove that the dismissals were not for political reasons. The NYT, WP, and LAT front, and the WSJ goes inside with, e-mails that show how the Justice Department has struggled to keep up with the growing scandal. The NYT goes high with the revelation that Attorney General Alberto Gonzales was “extremely upset” by Senate testimony given by his deputy, who said the U.S. attorney for Arkansas was fired so that the job could be given to a GOP operative. According to the e-mail, Gonzales believed the firing was because of performance reasons.
The WSJ emphasizes an e-mail that was sent two days before the firings and shows Deputy Attorney General Paul McNulty expressing concern about dismissing Daniel Bogden of Nevada because of his long service in government posts. “I’ll admit [I] have not looked at his district’s performance,” McNulty wrote. One e-mail exchange with Margaret Chiara of Michigan also illustrates how at least one of the attorneys expressed concern about her future career and financial security after the mass firings. The LAT notes that a few of the documents do seem to support the claim that at least some the firings were because of performance reasons, because there are e-mails that show officials were frustrated with some individual prosecutors.
The Post focuses on a piece of news that is not in the e-mails. According to sources, U.S. Attorney Patrick Fitzgerald, who led the investigation into the leak of Valerie Plame’s name, was ranked with the prosecutors who had “not distinguished themselves.” Two prosecutors who were ranked at the same level as Fitzgerald were later fired. Fitzgerald won the Attorney General’s Award for Distinguished Service in 2002.
Meanwhile, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi added to the growing calls for the attorney general’s resignation by saying, “I believe we need a new attorney general.” In reference to a question about Gonzales, White House press secretary Tony Snow said, “We hope he stays.” The LAT goes high with word that there has been increased talk of who could be tapped to replace Gonzales, even though the White Househas denied reports (first published by Politico.com) that Republican officials are looking for someone.
The LAT fronts a first-person account of the maiden flight of the new humongous Airbus A380. The new plane has a wingspan the length of a football field and can hold as many as 850 coach-class seats. Even though there are questions about the feasibility of the new plane, which has been plagued with problems and cost Airbus $19 billion to develop, everyone was in good spirits during the flight and they seemed to agree that it was quieter than other big jets. The main complaint? The bar was too small.