Today's Papers

Say What You Mean

The New York Timesleads with news that Alberto Gonzales carefully spliced his characterization of a Justice Department debate over NSA surveillance. He’s been accused of perjury for saying that a 2004 DoJ fracas had nothing to do with the NSA program “confirmed” by President Bush. But it turns out Bush only “confirmed” the eavesdropping portion of the program, studiously avoiding mention of a data mining practice that struck many at Justice as inappropriate.

The Washington Postlead says a Bush appointee—George H.W. Bush’s godson—blocked the release of a surgeon general’s report on global health because it was not politicized. The LA Timesleads with a bit of Sunday news analysis that says Democrats just want to talk Iraq while Republicans just want to talk terrorism.

At issue is Gonzales’s definition of “surveillance program,” which Congress took to mean the NSA’s terrorist surveillance program as a whole. In Gonzales’s narrower, Clintonian construction, “surveillance program” covered only eavesdropping and not “other matters regarding operations” like the NSA data mining effort. We don’t yet know what was so bad about the data mining policy, but it drew resignation threats from senior Justice officials, a rebuff from Deputy A.G. James B. Comey, and the fitful wrath of a slumbering John Ashcroft.

Surgeon General Richard Carmona wanted to release a report urging the U.S. to focus more on transnational global health issues. But Bush aide and Tobey Maguire wannabe William Steiger told him to turn it into “a policy statement” touting Bush administration achievements. “You don’t get it. … This will be a political document, or it will not be released.” Carmona balked, so he was not reappointed.

The LAT’s lead chides Democrats for talking only about Iraq and Republicans for talking only about terrorism. “Americans want answers to both,” says the LAT. It cites the Center for a New American Security as a voice of nonpartisan sanity—but wait … that’s the Sen. Hillary Clinton Defense Department in waiting!

The NYT off-leads British troops’ withdrawal from Basra to a nearby airbase, which it thinks is a subtle prelude to withdrawal from Iraq. According to the NYT, Iraqis think the British are retreating in the face of stepped up efforts by Shiite militias. The WP is critical of British efforts and it says Gordon Brown will likely wait till September to announce a larger pullout.

The NYT also fronts excerpts from letters that Sen. Hillary Clinton, D-N.Y., wrote to a high school friend while she was at Wellesley during the 1960s. “[I] am beginning to feel that there is a smorgasbord of personalities spread before me” isn’t exactly Maya Angelou, but it’s probably the closest thing we’ll get to a Rodham version of Dreams From My Father.

Here, she calls herself an intellectual liberal but an emotional conservative—did Bernstein have it inverted?

An NYT front  says public universities are charging extra for some programs, like business and engineering. Rising costs and unfriendly legislatures are to blame. Administrators fear the fees skew incentives for low income students, but they feel they have no choice.

The LAT fronts a piece on surfing in Gaza, where the waves are the only escape.

The NYT goes inside with a Chinese campaign to improve product safety and crack down on counterfeiters. The paper calls the new measures, like admitting the existence of regulatory failures and frequently updating EU officials, “economic realpolitik.” China even hired a PR consultant to burnish its image—let’s hope it’s not Nick Naylor or the real-world equivalent.

Deeper in the NYT, we find an apology from New York Gov. Eliot Spitzer, whose aggressive style led an aide to sic the state police on a political opponent. Spitzer is calling for introspection, but the NYT doubts  the governor can stay “defang[ed]” for long.

The WP reports that Pakistan is closer to a power-sharing deal between President Musharraf and exiled ex-PM Benazir Bhutto. A deal would, of course, be preferable to the government’s collapse.

And, the WP says, the Moscow Circus is being hit hard by privatization. Once the darling of Brezhnev, the venue will be sold off and turned into a circus-themed hotel. Its performers will scatter, joining the private sector or—worse—Cirque de Soleil.