The New York Timesleads with word that the Marine Corps is proposing to have its troops be the main U.S. force in Afghanistan and leave the Army in charge of operations in Iraq. Those that support the idea say it would allow both the Army and Marines to operate more efficiently. There are currently about 25,000 Marines in Iraq and no major units in Afghanistan, where there are approximately 26,000 U.S. troops. The Washington Postand Los Angeles Timeslead with news that a federal judge temporarily blocked a plan by the Bush administration to remove illegal immigrants from the workforce because it could result in “irreparable harm to innocent workers and employers.”
The Wall Street Journal leads with word that the State Department is studying the possibility of phasing out the use of private security guards in Iraq. The plan is one of several options that are currently under consideration as part of a comprehensive review of security in Iraq, which was ordered by Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice soon after the Sept. 16 shooting involving Blackwater. USA Todayleads with a look at how several states are banning trucks from interstate highways, as well as creating exclusive truck-only lanes, in order to decrease congestion.
The NYT says the proposal to take the Marines out of Iraq and have them concentrate on Afghanistan “represents the first tangible new thinking to emerge” since the administration began discussing troop withdrawals. The Post goes inside with the story and says those familiar with the idea “did not characterize it as a formal plan.” Part of the reason why this is considered viable is because the Marines are the ones who took a lead role in Anbar province, which has been touted as a success story, and military leaders say they might be able to greatly reduce the number of troops that are in the area.
The WP says Marine Corps officers seem to like the idea, which would “allow the service to extricate itself from the increasingly unpopular and costly Iraq war.” And the LAT talks to one Marine who says they’re eager to go to Afghanistan because “it’s our kind of fight” since it involves working closely with local forces. Less clear is whether the Army would be happy to agree with the plan, which, as the NYT details, might result in the “traditional turf battles.” The NYT helpfully explains that although it’s changed in recent years, historically there is “considerable precedent for geographic divisions” of the different military services.
The Department of Homeland Security was ready to send out 140,000 letters to businesses that have employees whose information doesn’t match what is in the Social Security Administration database. Employers would have had 90 days to either clear up the discrepancies or fire the workers. But Judge Charles Breyer, the brother of the Supreme Court justice (although the Post calls him his sister), agreed with the plaintiffs that the database contained too many errors and could unfairly affect legal workers. “There is a strong likelihood that employers may simply fire employees who are unable to resolve the discrepancy,” Breyer wrote. The temporary injunction means the government can’t implement the plan until a final decision is issued, which could take months.
The WP fronts the recent move by the Army to offer cash bonuses of up to $35,000 to keep young officers serving in a number of “key specialties.” Army officials say the incentives are needed because they expect a shortage of captains and majors for the next few years, particularly because it plans to add 65,000 active-duty soldiers to the service. So far, the officers appear to be responding as more than 6,000 captains have taken the money in exchange for a three-year commitment.
The NYT and LAT front the House foreign affairs committee passing a nonbinding resolution that recognizes the killings of Armenians in Turkey during World War I as genocide. The vote came soon after President Bush strongly warned that the resolution threatens the national security interests of the United States. Turkey has been lobbying against the resolution and threatened to withdraw its support for the Iraq war if it passes the full House. Defense Secretary Robert Gates also spoke out against the resolution, noting that a majority of supplies for U.S. forces in Iraq are flown through Turkey.
The Post’s Dana Milbank is decidedly unimpressed and writes that lawmakers decided to antagonize “a crucial ally in Iraq, and a rare Muslim friend, over long-ago atrocities perpetrated by long-dead rulers of a long-defunct empire.” Milbank wonders whether Congress will now choose to “confront the Romans for the rape of the Sabine women, or the Greeks for sacking Troy.”
Meanwhile, the House judiciary and intelligence committees approved bills that would increase the amount of oversight federal judges have over the eavesdropping that is carried out by the National Security Agency. But lawmakers, who split along party lines, angered the administration by refusing to include a provision to grant retroactive immunity to telecommunications companies that conducted the warrantless surveillance. Bush vowed not to sign the legislation unless it includes the immunity and emphasized he wants the law to be permanent. Civil-liberties and privacy advocates pointed out the legislation still grants the government authority to eavesdrop on groups of people without individual warrants. For those confused about the law and the different proposals, USAT publishes a helpful primer.
The LAT fronts a look at how women students at the Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary can earn credit toward their bachelor’s degrees by taking classes in homemaking. The seminary is even building a model house to better teach women “how to set tables, sew buttons, and sustain lively dinnertime conversation.” More moderate Southern Baptists disagree with the seminary’s vision (“we’re confusing 1950s culture with the teaching of Scripture,” one pastor said), but the students say they’re happy with the program. “My created purpose as a woman is to be a helper,” a 19-year-old student said. “This is a college education that I can use.”