Today's Papers

The Big Leak

The New York Times leads with news that vast quantities of oil have gone missing in Iraq over the past four years, presumably siphoned off by smugglers or corrupt officials. The Wall Street Journal heads its world-wide newsbox, and the Los AngelesTimes off-leads, with news that, amid fresh violence in Baghdad, the senior U.S. commander for northern Iraq is calling for more troops. The Washington Post leads with a report on the struggle of Cold War-era nuclear workers to claim compensation for their subsequent ill health. The L.A. Times leads, and the Post reports inside, on the evacuation of Catalina Island, a California tourist destination, due to a wildfire.

According to a draft U.S. government report obtained by the New York Times, up to 300,000 barrels of oil a day have gone missing in Iraq over the past four years at an estimated cost of up to $15 million a day. It’s not yet known whether the shortfall is due to theft or overstated oil production; there are concerns that the missing oil may be helping to fund insurgents. Some observers see parallels to the U.N. oil-for-food scandal, in which up to half a million barrels of oil a day were smuggled out of the country.

The senior U.S. commander for northern Iraq said that rising troop numbers in Baghdad were causing insurgents to focus on undermanned areas outside the capital and called for reinforcements. The L.A. Times fronts the news, speculating that Defense Secretary Robert Gates, believed to be skeptical about the surge strategy, has instructed officers to speak their mind about conditions on the ground. The Post runs the story inside, focusing on bombings in Baghdad that damaged bridges and killed 25 people yesterday. The New York Times notes that Iraqi lawmakers are drafting legislation that would set out a timetable for the withdrawal of U.S. troops.

The Washington Post runs above the fold and the Wall Street Journal newsboxes, while the New York Times teases, Dick Cheney’s latest bout of saber-rattling. Speaking from an aircraft carrier 150 miles off the coast of Iran, the vice president issued a blunt warning that the United States was prepared to use naval power to prevent Iran from building nuclear weapons, cutting off shipping routes in the Gulf, or seeking to dominate the Middle East.

The Washington Post fronts claims by anonymous World Bank officials that Paul Wolfowitz is to face a no-confidence motion next week, as the bank’s executive board seeks to edge him out of office without actually firing him.

The New York Times off-leads, the L.A. Times teases, and the Post stuffs attempts by Rudy Giuliani to convince Republicans that his views on abortion, gun control, and gay rights shouldn’t disqualify him from winning the party’s presidential nomination. In a forceful speech last night, which the New York Times excerpts, the former NYC mayor warned that a refusal to accept dissenting views could cost the GOP the White House.

The Washington Post runs an above-the-fold photo and leads its metro section, and the New York Times reports inside, on yesterday’s commencement ceremony at Virginia Tech. “There is a cloud over the campus, and that makes it more difficult for graduates and their families to experience graduation the way they should,” said the father of one of the students killed in last month’s shooting. The L.A. Times reports on the tens of thousands of gifts—from popcorn to paper chains—sent to the campus by well-wishers.

The Wall Street Journal fronts an affectionate look at its current owners, the Bancroft family, as they mull a $5 billion takeover bid from Rupert Murdoch.

The New York Times fronts a piece on Monica Goodling, the Gonzales aide who resigned last month amidst the investigation into prosecutor firings. Former colleagues say she politicized personnel policies, grading attorneys according to their loyalty to the Bush administration and attempting to block the hiring of applicants she suspected might be Democrats. The Washington Post reports inside on the decision to grant Goodling limited immunity from prosecution, opening the way for her to testify before the House judiciary committee.

The New York Times fronts the Justice Department’s decision to drop its attempt to limit Guantanamo detainees to three visits with their lawyers. Officials said the department would still seek other limitations, including the right to screen letters between lawyers and detainees, and to deny lawyers access to secret evidence.

Below the fold, the New York Times reports on New Hampshire’s soft-sell approach to cervical cancer vaccinations; a free, voluntary program has proven more successful than other states’ attempts to introduce mandatory vaccinations.

Following Tony Blair’s decision to step down as Britain’s prime minister, the New York Times and the Post eye his likely successor, treasury chief Gordon Brown. In launching his candidacy yesterday, Brown acknowledged that mistakes had been made in Iraq and pledged “a new leadership for this new time.”

In India, the “untouchable” Dalit caste won control of the northern state of Uttar Pradesh in yesterday’s elections, foreshadowing a potential shift in the country’s political balance; the New York Times and the Post both give the story decent play inside. The Wall Street Journal notes the increasing criminalization of Indian politics, with many candidates currently facing charges ranging from robbery to murder, and several running their campaigns from behind bars.

Both the Postand the New York Times go inside with reports on the Pope’s continuing tour of Brazil, where he yesterday canonized the country’s first saint.

The Wall Street Journal reports that Iranian hardliners are currently battling to rid their country of funky haircuts and Western-style neckties.