Today's Papers

Lost in Iraq

The Washington Postleads with word that 30 percent of weapons meant for Iraqi security forces appear to be lost. According to a new Government Accountability Office report, the U.S. military can’t account for approximately 190,000 AK-47 assault rifles and pistols that it handed out between 2004 and 2005. The New York Timesleads with President Bush signing the new law giving the administration expanded powers to carry out its warrantless eavesdropping program. The NYT emphasizes the new authority goes “far beyond the small fixes that administration officials had said were needed.” The Wall Street Journal leads its world-wide newsbox with the announcement that U.S. forces in Iraq killed Haytham al-Badri, who was accused of being the mastermind behind both bombings of the Golden Dome shrine in Samarra.

The Los Angeles Timesleads with a look at how the partisan wrangling between lawmakers in Congress has been escalating since Democrats took control and reached a high point last week. Although there was much condemnation of all this infighting, both sides have been turning up the heat, figuring “they have more to gain by warring with their rivals than by working with them.” Everyone has much to lose from the deadlock but few expect the mood to change when Congress comes back, particularly since Iraq will be at the forefront again. USA Todayleads with word that July was a great month for airlines as many were able to fill a record number of seats. Good news for airlines means bad news for passengers who have to fly in crowded planes and wait longer to get rebooked if a flight gets canceled or delayed.

It’s not the first time the issue of missing weapons in Iraq has come up, but this latest estimate is much larger. Of course, the main concern is that the U.S. military has been inadvertently providing weapons to insurgents courtesy of the American taxpayer. The GAO found the military really has no consistent oversight over these weapons, but emphasized that the problem was particularly bad in 2004 and 2005, which is when Gen. David Petraeus, now the top commander in Iraq, ran the training program. The paper talks to a defense analyst who says that while the U.S. military often talks about how Syria and Iran are supplying weapons to insurgents, it has paid little attention to its own role in arming the enemy.

Lawmakers and administration officials emphasized that they needed to expand the eavesdropping powers so foreign communications that just happened to be routed through the United States could be monitored. In truth, the new powers mean the National Security Agency can monitor conversations of someone inside the United States, as long as the main target of the surveillance is “reasonably believed” to be in a foreign country. This can get confusing, but the NYT helpfully breaks it down in an easy-to-understand hypothetical example: “If a person in Indianapolis calls someone in London, the National Security Agency can eavesdrop on that conversation without a warrant, as long as the N.S.A.’s target is the person in London.”

The NYT also notes that the new authority gives the administration greater power to force telecommunications companies to cooperate with an investigation. This has apparently not made the companies, who would rather have a warrant instead of just a request from the attorney general, very happy. The companies have hinted that they might take the issue to court. The WSJ also takes a look at the issue and says that the new law doesn’t grant telecommunications companies immunity from lawsuits for cooperating with the government.

All the papers note Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki refused to accept the resignation of the Sunni Cabinet members who decided to walk out last week. The NYT and LAT note that President Jalal Talabani was acting as mediator, trying to get the Sunnis back into the government.

The Post goes inside with a dispatch from Cairo that says Turkish leaders will warn Maliki that if he doesn’t go after Kurdish rebels in northern Iraq, Turkey is prepared to invade. Although Turkey has always expressed concern over PKK members, it seems the country’s politicians now agree with the army that it’s time for decisive action. An analyst tells the paper that the invasion could come at “any moment” and an attack would likely include some form of U.S. participation.

Republican Sen. Arlen Specter writes an op-ed piece for the WP, where he urges lawmakers to “take a fresh look and try a narrower approach” to passing immigration legislation. Besides the increased money for border security, Specter says that something still needs to be done with the 12 million illegal immigrants.To help the illegal immigrants get out of the shadows, he proposes giving them “the status of those with green cards – without the automatic path to citizenship that was the core component of critics’ argument that reform efforts were really amnesty.”

The LAT fronts the second in its two-part series looking into open adoptions. Closed adoptions used to be the norm, but now more are entering into the “delicate arrangement” of open adoptions, in which both the birth and adoptive parents take part in a child’s life. To illustrate how these types of arrangements can be fraught with difficulties, the LAT’s Sonia Nazario meticulously examines the life of one child and how her life was affected by essentially having two sets of parents. It’s long, but well worth a read.

The Post’s Style section takes a look at Yearly Kos, the convention of liberal bloggers that wrapped up yesterday. Despite all the talk of how the “netroots” have gone mainstream, the “open secret” is still that the group is simply “not very diverse,” as one activist admits. Most bloggers at the convention were white, and men far outnumbered women. “Everyone agrees it’s a problem,” says the WP, “yet no one is sure how to address it.”