Today's Papers

Off Center

The Los Angeles Timesleads with word that the White House is looking to offer some sort of compromise to Congress on Iraq, which could include greater decentralization of the country, in order to avoid the drawn-out fight that everyone sees coming. President Bush has authorized an internal policy review to figure out what options could be on the table that would allow him to hold on to at least some of his stated goals for Iraq. The New York Timesleads, and the Wall Street Journal tops its world-wide newsbox, with the Iraqi High Tribunal sentencing Ali Hassan al-Majid, commonly known as “Chemical Ali,” for his role in the gassing of tens of thousands of Kurds in the late 1980s. Two other senior officials from Saddam Hussein’s government were also sentenced to death yesterday.

USA Todayleads with word that the U.S. military is “exploring creative ways” to reward tribes in Iraq who decide to join the fight against insurgents. Besides the always-reliable cash payments, the U.S. military is also offering medical assistance and making it easier for those who help out to get security contracts. Meanwhile, the U.S. military wants the Iraqi government to work around requirements so that these tribe members can join Iraq’s security forces as quickly as possible. The Washington Postleads with a look at how states are increasingly using their legislature to target illegal immigrants and basically make it more difficult for them to receive a variety of government services. As Congress continues its debate on the immigration overhaul bill this week, many state leaders have decided to stop waiting for the federal government and are taking the matter into their own hands.

Although formal talks on an Iraq compromise have yet to begin, the LAT says that Defense Secretary Robert Gates and U.N. Ambassador Zalmay Khalilzad have been “quietly” consulting with members of Congress, where the issue of a “sharply decentralized Iraq” has frequently come up as more lawmakers seem to be warming up to the idea. Although the White House has dismissed proposals that would divide or decentralize Iraq, there are hints that the administration might be willing to consider the option. The paper makes clear that regardless of what the compromise might include, it still “faces long odds” because Democrats could anger their base by agreeing to any sort of deal.

The desire to come up with a compromise might have to do with necessity rather than avoiding a fight, because, as the NYT pointed out yesterday, some officials believe that, unless some drastic action is taken, troops available for Iraq duty will begin to run out in April.

All the papers point out that although Iraqis were once captivated by the trials of Saddam Hussein’s entourage, many have since lost interest. Part of the reason has to do with the fact that the most high-profile defendant has already been executed, but there’s also a growing sense that many Iraqis see the trials as irrelevant to their daily struggles. The Post notes that Human Rights Watch said the trial “was marred by procedural flaws.”

The NYT goes inside with, and the WP folds into its “Chemical Ali” coverage, two commanders worrying that Iraqi troops won’t be able to hold on to the gains made by U.S. troops in Diyala province. Besides a lack of manpower, the commanders said that Iraqi troops are short on much of the basic equipment they need.

The WP devotes most of its above-the-fold space to the second part in its series about Vice President Dick Cheney and today focuses on his role in creating the administration’s policies on how detainees can be treated during interrogations. It’s hardly surprising to say that Cheney was a key advocate for the creation of a policy that disavowed torture but allowed for cruel treatment and gave Bush the power to make exceptions. But the Post’s Barton Gellman and Jo Becker paint such a detailed picture of a vice president so determined to get his way, even if it meant going behind the back of other administration officials, which could surprise even the most hardened conspiracy theorist. By detailing the vice president’s role, the Post also manages to shed new light on how the adminsitration decided on the new interrogation rules and how many continue to be used today “out of public view.” It’s long, but definitely worth a read.

The NYT goes inside with word that representatives of News Corp. and Dow Jones, including the Bancroft Family, are close to agreeing on a proposal meant to safeguard the editorial independence of the WSJ. For its part, the WSJ says that talks between the parties almost fell apart when Dow Jones’ proposal was deemed unacceptable but “takeover talks heated up over the weekend and were moving quickly” after News Corp. sent back its own proposal. As the NYT carefully notes though, even if a deal is reached, it still isn’t a guarantee that the Dow Jones board will approve the sale.

The NYT fronts a huge profile of Rupert Murdoch that looks into how the media mogul has benefitted from his contacts in the political world. Besides the obvious campaign contributions, Murdoch has also been able to get favors by promising “jobs for former government officials and media exposure that promotes allies while attacking adversaries, sometimes viciously.” Murdoch contributes to both political parties and has developed relationships with unlikely people, such as Bill and Hillary Clinton.

Time to fish the echinacea out of the trash? The LAT goes inside with a new study that says echinacea can be beneficial to prevent and fight the symptoms of a cold. Sales of the herbal remedy have declined recently after studies determined that it had no benefits. Many are skeptical and say the report, which analyzed 14 previous studies, is merely “a rehash of old data.” But the lead author of the study contends that his findings should be enough to create renewed interest in researching echinacea.