Today's Papers

Warming to Him

Everybody leads with Al Gore, who, you may have heard, won a share of the Nobel Peace prize yesterday for his efforts to combat climate change. Sidebars abound, including intense speculation over whether he will now decide to enter the presidential race, with those close to him saying he is telling the truth when he declares he’s not interested. The Wall Street Journalalso tops its world-wide newsbox with the story.

            Apart from Gore, The New York Times fronts new details on last month’s Blackwater shooting in Baghdad that allegedly killed 17 people, quoting witnesses who say they saw no one shoot at the guards to provoke them. The Washington Post goes high with the former CEO of Qwest, who is appealing a conviction for insider trading, suggesting the company faced retribution from the government for refusing to go along with an unidentified NSA program. The most striking detail of the story comes in the second graf: The company was allegedly approached by the NSA more than six months before 9/11. 

The papers agree that the Nobel is a “vindication” for Gore, seven years removed from the election that he … well, you know the rest. In reporting the story, they face the problem of it already having been talked about throughout the day on Friday, and the WP seems to aim for a slightly more forward-looking angle in its lede, referencing what Gore plans to do now. The NYT plays it relatively straight, while the Los Angeles Times goes with a two-sentence lede, labeling the award “a symbolic rebuke to the Bush administration.”

            So would the administration now be pressured into adopting a more “Gore-style approach” – the WSJ’s words – to climate issues? According to the paper, a White House spokesman offered this clear and concise response: “No.”

            Sticking with the administration, the WP anonymously quotes a senior official who offered these heartfelt congratulations: “We’re happy for him, but suspect he’d trade places before we would.” Unclear if the official was a five-year-old.

            Gore shared the award with the UN’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change. He did not address the presidential speculation, and it seemed unlikely he would decide to join the fray, especially so late in the game. The stories note that he benefits by not firmly ruling out running for president since it brings so much added attention to his campaign against global warming.

            The papers, at varying degrees, take a look at whether he has at times gone too far in his statements about the effects of climate change. Many seem to conclude that while Gore may have been alarmist on certain details, he gets the big picture correct. The NYT reported on this in March, and the story can be found here.

            A quick aside: If Gore feels he needs any sobering reminders of 2000 amid all the praise now flowing his way, he should look no further than the NYT front, which includes a feature on Florida’s infamous voting machines.

            The NYT’s Blackwater story expands upon the Post’s Friday report on the controversy by interviewing three Kurds who witnessed the episode from a rooftop, as well as US soldiers who arrived afterward. The Kurds told the paper they saw no gunfire that would have provoked the Blackwater guards, who have said they were responding to insurgents. One of the witnesses called it a “massacre,” and the NYT reports that American soldiers “were similarly appalled.”

            The WP fronts a long piece on Blackwater today, running through the firm’s history and controversies. It includes a visit to the “Blackwater Lodge and Training Center” with the 38-year-old owner of the company, Erik Prince. Definitely worth a read.

            In other Iraq news, the LAT flags a story on Iraqi Kurdistan’s ambitions and how that could mean trouble for the region. Elsewhere, both the NYT and WP front stories on Lt. Gen. Ricardo S. Sanchez, the former top commander of American forces in Iraq, harshly criticizing the Bush administration’s handling of the war. But because Sanchez was commander in Iraq at the time of the Abu Ghraib scandal and has been criticized for allegedly responding slowly to the insurgency, the papers point out that his comments could be viewed as an attempt to shift blame.

            The Post’s NSA story involves former Qwest CEO Joseph P. Nacchio, who says in court papers that the NSA approached the company in February 2001. According to the paper, details of the NSA program were redacted from court documents. However, as the WP notes, “Nacchio’s lawyer said last year that the NSA had approached the company about participating in a warrantless surveillance program to gather information about Americans’ phone records.”

            When Qwest refused to take part in the unidentified program, fearing it illegal, the government withdrew opportunities for lucrative contracts, Nacchio suggests.

            Since it is October, some quick baseball news is in order, though those who care are probably already up to date: Rockies 3, Diamondbacks 2; Red Sox 10, Indians 3.