The New York Times, the Washington Post, and the Los Angeles Times all lead with the decision by Defense Secretary Robert Gates to replace Marine Gen. Peter Pace as chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff in September, when Pace’s two-year term comes to an end. The Wall Street Journal leads with economists’ warnings that the housing slump will continue for the rest of the year and act as a drag on the economy.
Gates said he decided not to re-nominate Pace after senators from both political parties indicated that Pace’s confirmation hearing would subject him to aggressive questioning on the Bush administration’s implementation of the Iraq war. All the papers note that Pace, who previously served as vice chairman from 2001 to 2005 and is the first top soldier since 1964 to serve only two years, has been criticized within the armed forces for not standing up more to former Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld in the run-up to the Iraq war. His replacement, Chief of Naval Operations Adm. Michael Mullen, said that his main priority was keeping the Army from further overextension and, according to the WSJ, was skeptical of the recent decision to send more American soldiers in Iraq. It is expected that Mullen, who was not involved in the planning of the Iraq invasion, will be confirmed.
At the G-8 summit yesterday, Russian President Vladimir Putin once again proposed an alternative to the American plans to locate a missile defense system in Europe, which he considers a threat. On Thursday, he proposed Azerbaijan; yesterday, Turkey. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice scoffed at the plan, but American officials welcomed Putin’s willingness to talk, especially when compared with last week’s belligerence. The G-8 also pledged $60 billion to fight AIDS, malaria, and tuberculosis in Africa. The LAT notes that human rights activists said it was not enough and did not keep pace with previous funding promises.
All the papers try to piece together from the fallout from the Thursday’s immigration-bill collapse. As a bipartisan group of 12 senators tried to get legislation moving again, President Bush called Republican Senate leaders to try and get them on board with a bill and urged Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., to bring legislation back to the floor. But all the papers are skeptical: The LAT reports that the Senate has too much on its plate over the next couple of weeks (including a major energy bill) but mainly focuses on the “groundswell of opposition to illegal immigration that has buffeted members of Congress around the country.” The NYT and WP both point out that the Senate isn’t really that busy—Monday is dedicated to a nonbinding vote of no-confidence in Attorney General Alberto Gonzales—and indicate that Sen. Reid was single-minded about ending debate by Thursday, never really getting behind the bill. Everyone points out that President Bush is taking a lot of heat now that the last major plank of his second-term domestic agenda has flopped; an NYT news analysis even uses the words lame duck.
The WP fronts, and the other papers run sizable pieces, on a report by the Council of Europe—the official continental human rights body—that outlined how the CIA, from 2003 to 2006, used NATO agreements to bypass civilian control, establish secret prisons, and torture terror suspects in countries such as Poland and Romania.
Gunmen attacked a police chief’s home in Baghdad yesterday, killing his wife, son, and at least 12 others. (The chief wasn’t home at the time.) At least another 34 were killed in bombing attacks. On the somewhat-optimistic side, a WP dispatch from a West Baghdad neighborhood reports that at least one American battalion has found an “ally of last resort” in the fight against al-Qaida—Sunni militiamen and former insurgents.
Pakistani officials, operating at the behest of embattled President Pervez Musharraf, suspended their attempt to censor and revoke licenses of broadcasters after protests erupted throughout the country.
The WP fronts a story on the 522 American cities that have agreed to reduce carbon emissions according to the standards set by the Kyoto Protocol.
The LAT floods the zone on Paris Hilton’s tearful return to jail, running genuinely informative articles on the jurisdictional fight between sheriffs and judges in deciding who can stay and go (overcrowding has led sheriffs to set murderers free), inmate resentment toward Hilton’s special treatment, and the culture of celebrity policing.