Today's Papers

In the Line of Fire

The Washington Postleads with word that the Department of Justice looked into firing several more U.S. attorneys than Attorney General Alberto Gonzales and other administration officials had previously acknowledged. According to the paper’s sources, the Justice Department considered firing at least 26 U.S. attorneys between February 2005 and December 2006. The New York Timesleads with the continuing standoff between Paul Wolfowitz and the World Bank’s board. After fighting for the last few weeks to hold on to his job as the bank’s president, Wolfowitz is allegedly attempting to broker a deal in which he would resign if the board agrees to, at the very least, tone down the charges that he is guilty of wrongdoing in arranging the pay-and-promotion package for his companion. The Wall Street Journal tops its world-wide newsbox with the Senate overwhelmingly rejecting a plan that would have cut off funds for combat troops in Iraq as of April 1, 2008. Next week, senators will consider a bill that would fund the war through the end of September.

USA Todayleads the new Census population estimates that reveal the country’s minority population has topped 100 million for the first time. Hispanics, the largest minority group, accounted for almost half of the country’s growth in the year preceding July 2006. A closer look at the numbers also reveals a strong growth in the population of young Hispanics, which contrasts with a decrease in the non-Hispanic white school-age population. This age difference “sets the stage in coming decades for very different political agendas,” a demographer tells the paper. The Los Angeles Timesleads with a look at how Mexican President Felipe Calderón has been using the country’s army to fight drug traffickers. While there are questions of whether it’s even legal to use army troops to carry out police duties, some “see potential disaster” in placing an institution with so many problems at the forefront of the country’s continuing battle against the drug cartels.

When Attorney General Alberto Gonzales testified before Congress, he said the Justice Department’s efforts were limited to the eight U.S. attorneys who were dismissed since June of last year. But the now-infamous list compiled by Gonzales’ former chief of staff, Kyle Sampson, contained at least 26 names, 13 of whom continue in their jobs. Several U.S. attorneys whose names appear on the lists said they had no idea they were being considered for dismissal. The 26 names “hint at a casual process in which the people who were most consistently considered for replacement were not always those ultimately told to leave,” says the Post.

The World Bank’s board continued to deliberate yesterday on the special committee’s findings that concluded Wolfowitz was guilty of ethical and governance violations. The Post also fronts the standoff and focuses on the White House angle. The Bush administration is proposing the bank’s board declare that although Wolfowitz made some mistakes, he also received bad ethics advice from a bank committee. Some members of the board said they might have been willing to consider this type of deal a few weeks ago, but now it might be too late.The WSJ also fronts the Wolfowitz story and points out that his replacement will have the difficult task of uniting the World Bank staff after the long period of unrest and controversy.

In other Gonzales-related news, it seems the attorney general is sticking to his sworn statement from last year when he said the warrantless spying program caused no controversy within the Bush administration. On Tuesday, the deputy attorney general told lawmakers that several senior officials at the Department of Justice were prepared to resign over the program.

The NYT and LAT front the continuing fighting between Fatah and Hamas in the Gaza Strip, which has left at least 40 people dead in the last four days and threatens to bring down the Palestinian government. The Israeli military carried out at least two airstrikes, killing seven Hamas fighters, in retaliation for dozens of rockets that were fired from Gaza into Israeli territory. Everybody notes the rockets are widely seen as an attempt to bring in a strong response from Israel and thus unify the Palestinians. The NYT points out this raises political problems for the Israeli government as it tries to avoid getting dragged into the clashes, particularly after last summer’s fighting in Lebanon that ended up strengthening Hamas.

The WP fronts, and everyone mentions, new financial disclosure forms that show many of the presidential contenders from both parties have at least one thing in common: lots of money. At least 10 of the Democratic and Republican candidates are millionaires. Although most of the candidates’ wealth came as no surprise, everyone pays particular attention to Rudolph Giuliani, who reported a net worth of more than $30 million, which is a large increase from the less than $2 million he had in personal assets when he stepped down as mayor.

The NYT fronts a look at how many of the presidential candidates have “taken to eliminating whole chapters of their histories.” Of course, it’s hardly surprising that politicians would try to skip mentioning aspects of their past that might not sit well with voters. But it’s still interesting (if not somewhat amusing) to see all the subjects the current crop of candidates try to avoid mentioning, particularly considering that they are bound to come up anyway as the race heats up.

All the papers report that, after all the brouhaha, it turns out Prince Harry won’t be going to Iraq. The army chief of staff said specific threats against Harry would have exposed “not only him but also those around him to a degree of risk that I now deem unacceptable.”