Today's Papers

Join in Surveillance

The Washington Postleads with a letter sent by Verizon to lawmakers in which the company gave a glimpse into just how willing telecommunication companies have been to hand over information about customers to the federal government. Verizon revealed it gave information without a court order in emergency cases a total of 720 times since 2005. The Los Angeles Timesleads with a look at how Republicans seem to be rushing to get out of Congress  while Democrats are staying put. So far, 16 GOP lawmakers have said they’re retiring, and the only two Democrats who are talking about leaving are House members who want to run for Senate.

The New York Timesleads with news that three of the nation’s biggest banks announced they will create a fund that could raise as much as $200 billion to buy securities that have plunged in value because of problems in the credit market. The fund is designed to prevent the problems from affecting the whole market “but the banks hope to take minimal risk and avoid actually investing any of their own money,” the NYT says. USA Todayleads with lawmakers raising concerns that airplanes could be sabotaged by terrorists in foreign repair shops. Congress ordered the Transportation Security Administration to come up with new security rules for these types of facilities but it has failed to do so. The Wall Street Journal leads its world-wide newsbox with Shiite militants attacking military bases in southern Iraq that are used by American, Polish, and Iraqi soldiers. The paper also notes that one more Iraqi journalist was killed yesterday. (The LAT says five Iraqi journalists were killed over the weekend.)

The number of times that Verizon handed information to federal authorities on an emergency basis pales in comparison to the 94,000 times the company complied with a subpoena or court order. But besides the hard numbers, Verizon also revealed that the FBI used administrative subpoenas to ask the company for “information identifying not just a person making a call, but all the people that customer called, as well as the people those people called,” the WP explains. Verizon doesn’t keep that information, but the fact that it was requested shows federal investigators wanted far more data from companies than had been previously disclosed.

AT&T and Qwest also sent letters to lawmakers who were seeking answers about their participation in a warrantless spying program, but they didn’t include information about what data was handed over to the government. The companies said they couldn’t reveal information details about their participation without permission from the White House. But in a revealing statement, both AT&T and Verizon made it clear they don’t think it’s their role to question whether emergency requests from the government are legitimate or appropriate.

The LAT makes clear that the number of House Republicans who plan to retire (11) wouldn’t really be so unusual if it wasn’t for the fact that Democrats aren’t joining them. This is seen as another example of the different moods in the parties as Republicans try to get used to being in the minority again. Republican operatives are busy trying to convince lawmakers to stay in Congress and run for re-election because incumbents usually have a much easier time holding on to a seat. And to top it off, it also looks like the GOP will have less money to hold on to the open seats since the Democratic campaign committees in both the House and the Senate have far more money in hand than their Republican counterparts.

The WP emphasizes that the Treasury Department’s involvement in creating the fund that was announced by the major banks yesterday has “little historical precedent.” The LAT goes high with critics of the plan who contend that it “would do little to help the still-creaky credit markets recover” while helping banks avoid big losses. The WSJ reports “many investors said they welcomed the plan” but the NYT cites yesterday’s drop in the Dow Jones industrial average to claim that “investors reacted with doubt.” The chief United States economist at Goldman Sachs tells the NYT  that it all “seems a little more like a PR move.”

The Post fronts, and everyone mentions, data released yesterday that shows Sen. Hillary Clinton and Ruldoph Giuliani have more money in the bank for the primary fight than their rivals. Clinton had $35 million to spend on the primaries, compared with Sen. Barack Obama’s $32 million. The Republicans had far less money, although members of both parties are doing a good job of spending their funds, as John Edwards, Bill Richardson, Obama, Giuliani, and Romney all spent more than they raised in the past three months.

The WP notes that while most candidates focused their spending in early states, Giuliani spent money in other parts of the country, which suggests he “is laying the groundwork for a national primary strategy.” The papers note Giuliani spent $13 million, which the NYT says is “striking given that he is not yet advertising on television.” The Post points out this was at least partly “because he traveled in style” with charter jets and luxury hotels. Also interesting, the NYT notes that Rep. Ron Paul had $5.4 million left for the primaries, which is quite a bit more than Sen. John McCain’s $1.67 million.

The Air Force’s second-highest-ranking procurement official appears to have committed suicide. In early october, the official was the subject of a Page One WP story that reported on how the Air Force arranged for him to get paid by a private contractor while he waited for the White House to approve the appointment.

In an op-ed in the Post, Bob Dole and Donna Shalala write that the administration has been too slow in implementing their recommendations to improve care for injured service members. The administration has been caught up “in a decades-long battle to fix the entire disability system” instead of focusing on what can be done to help those who are returning from Iraq and Afghanistan.

Quote of the day: “I was very proud of my association with Mitt Romney. I’d worked hard for him here in the state. … And he not only threw me under his campaign bus, he backed up and ran over me again,” Sen. Larry Craig told Matt Lauer in an interview that will air tonight.