Today's Papers

The Kennedy Conspiracy

The Los Angeles Times leads, the Washington Post off-leads, and the New York Times teases charges brought against four men in connection with an alleged plot to blow up fuel tanks and buildings at New York’s JFK airport. The NYT leads on tensions within the Republican party as plans for immigration reform move forward. The Post leads on news that attacks by Iraq’s insurgents have grown more sophisticated and more deadly in recent weeks, deploying larger roadside bombs and staging more complex and more effective ambushes.

Four men, including a former cargo handler and a onetime member of the Guyanese parliament, were charged yesterday with conspiring to blow up JFK airport and a large region of Queens by targeting the airport’s network of fuel pipelines. The men—one of whom remains at large—were described as having “fundamentalist Islamic beliefs of a violent nature”; they had sought assistance from a Trinidadian terrorist organization but apparently had no direct ties to al-Qaida. Officials said the planned attack would have caused “unthinkable” devastation if it had succeeded, although the NYT reports that the chances of a localized explosion igniting the airport’s fuel lines were negligible. The LAT notes that the arrests highlight a growing threat from Islamic terrorist groups based in the Caribbean and Latin America.

With everyone from Peggy Noonan to Rush Limbaugh attacking Bush’s advocacy of immigration reform, the NYT reports that the issue risks splintering the president’s dwindling support base. Bush’s comment that opponents of reform “don’t want to do what’s right for America” appears to have particularly rankled the conservative faithful. The LAT off-leads with a look at the Senate coalition that forged the “grand bargain” on immigration and asks whether the unusually-robust alliance will survive this week’s debate. The Post reports inside on a sizable rally in support of the legislation and employers’ concerns that the proposed changes could unduly complicate hiring processes.

May was the third-bloodiest month for U.S. troops since the occupation of Iraq began, with 127 U.S. soldiers killed. The Post reports that while the surge strategy is credited with reducing civilian casualties in Baghdad by 50 percent, it has left U.S. troops more exposed to insurgents’ increasingly lethal attacks. Everyone mentions the bombing yesterday of a major bridge on the highway linking Baghdad and Kirkuk; the Post reports on the growing trend of attacks on Iraq’s infrastructure, while the NYT notes heightened tensions between Arabs and Kurds in the region. Meanwhile, the NYT fronts a look at the Bush administration’s new willingness to discuss the possibility of emulating the “Korea model” by keeping troops in Iraq for years or decades to come, perhaps in three or four large but isolated military bases.

The NYT off-leads on the case of a Guantanamo detainee who is to be charged with war crimes for attacking U.S. troops in Afghanistan, despite being only 15 at the time of the incidents. His lawyers say that the case could set a dangerous precedent, since current international legal conventions avoid criminalizing child fighters, instead viewing them as victims of warfare.

The NYT teases, and the Post mentions, the U.S. bombardment of suspected militants in northern Somalia. An American warship fired cruise missiles into the area on Friday; details remain vague, but according to some reports up to eight suspected Islamic fighters were killed in the attacks.

Violence continued yesterday in Lebanon, where the military has surrounded a Palestinian refugee camp being used as a hideout by members of the Fatah al Islam militia. The NYTand the Postboth report that the army says it has taken control of all militant positions outside the camp but stopped short of entering the camp itself, where up to 10,000 refugees remain trapped.

The NYT fronts a report that doctors who have been sanctioned by medical boards often continue to give experimental treatments and to accept payment from drug companies for their services, against the advice of medical ethicists. The FDA’s chief medical officer said the federal government needs to revamp regulations governing clinical trials and the doctors who administer them.

The NYT notes that Californian prisons are due to extend conjugal-visiting rights to gay inmates and their partners, after civil rights groups threatened to sue to enforce a 2003 law providing equal rights for registered domestic partners.

Fred Thompson’s potential presidential bid got a boost yesterday, with both the NYT and the Postupbeat about the politician-turned-actor’s fledgling campaign. Speaking at a Virginia GOP rally yesterday, Thompson said he wanted to put the party “on the comeback trail.”

According to the Post, Hillary Clinton is looking to emphasize her Midwestern roots—and her love of jalapeño pizza—as she strives to find a common touch to back up her solid lead in the polls. Meanwhile, the NYT and the Postexcerpt Hillary biographies penned by their investigative reporters; both papers have been mining the books for newsworthy tidbits in recent weeks, though, so there’s little left to startle election watchers.

Everyone leads their book reviews with raves for Ian McEwan’s latest, On Chesil Beach, a slender thriller-style novella about a couple’s nervous attempts to consummate their marriage. The Postand the LATmanage to make it through without giving away the ending; be warned, however, that the NYTreviewerhas no such qualms.