The New York Times leads with more details on the case of the C.I.A.’s destroyed videotapes, including disclosures that several officials from the White House, the Justice Department and Congress advised the agency to keep the tapes. The Washington Post leads with, and the other papers front, demands from Democratic members of Congress that the Justice Department and congressional committees investigate the tapes’ destruction. The Wall Street Journal tops its world-wide newsbox with a similar story, which also speculates that future terrorism trials could be compromised because the episode might raise doubts about government evidence. The Los Angeles Times leads with a breakdown in talks between Hollywood writers and studios.
Among the officials who warned the CIA not to destroy the tapes was Porter Goss, then the chair of the House intelligence committee and later the agency’s director. Although he was director when the tapes were destroyed, he was not aware of their destruction. Congress was first informed about the tapes’ existence in February 2003, when the agency’s general counsel briefed a small group of senior members. That same year, the counsel told White House general counsel Harriet Miers about the tapes and she also recommended that they not be destroyed, the paper said. All the papers note that White House spokeswoman Dana Perino said President Bush had “no recollection” of hearing about the tapes or their destruction.
The Senate intelligence committee announced that it will investigate the tape affair, and Democrats asked Attorney General Michael Mukasey—who during his confirmation hearings dodged questions about torturing terror suspects—to launch a Justice Department investigation. The members of the 9/11 commission were not happy, either.
“The C.I.A. certainly knew of our interest in getting all the information we could on the detainees, and they never indicated to us there were any videotapes,” Lee Hamilton, the co-chair of the commission, told the NYT. “Did they obstruct our inquiry? The answer is clearly yes. Whether that amounts to a crime, others will have to judge.”
The breakdown in Hollywood negotiations “comes after eight days of contentious negotiations that yielded very little, if any, progress” in ending the five-week writers’ strike, the LAT says. The potential impact: “Virtually all scripted TV shows are expected to stop production by next week, causing a loss of 15,000 jobs and costing the Los Angeles economy about $21 million a day in direct production spending, according to one recent estimate.”
Mike Huckabee pressured members of the Arkansas parole board to release a convicted rapist who later killed at least one other woman, the LAT reports on the front page. The rapist had claimed to be “saved,” and an influential pastor who was a friend of Huckabee’s lobbied hard for his release. The paper talked to four of the members of the board at the time the decision was made to release the man, and three of them disputed Huckabee’s claim that he had little to do with the board’s decision. “We felt pressured by him,” one board member told the paper. “I felt compelled to do it. … It was a favor for the governor.” The paper also has a lot of the dramatic back story, replete with “Gothic details—rape and castration, a corrupt county sheriff and state politics. Finally, there is murder,” as the paper puts it.
Hillary Clinton’s campaign is dispatching several prominent women, including her mother and Madeleine Albright, to Iowa to shore up support among women there, the Post reports on the front page. Her campaign is worried about recent inroads into the female electorate made by her main competitor, Barack Obama. The Journal, also on the front page, notes that Clinton is having trouble wooing the nation’s top businesswomen, and is having more luck with working-class females.
The Post goes inside with an insightful look at how the new intelligence on Iran’s nuclear program was attained. Ironically, it was a personal effort by President Bush to beef up knowledge on Iran that led to the discovery that Tehran had stopped building nuclear weapons in 2003.
“With Bush pressing for more information, the intelligence community finally came up with something new—a series of communications intercepts, including snippets of conversations between key Iranian officials, one of them a military officer whose name appeared on the laptop. Two sources said the Iranians complained that the nuclear weapons program had been shuttered four years earlier and argued about whether it would ever be restarted,” the paper writes.
Also in the papers … The non-U.S. troop presence in Iraq has shrunk from a high of more than 25,000 soldiers to less than 12,000, the Post reports on the front page. And the missions they take on are, in many cases, modest: Kazakhstan’s bomb-removal forces don’t leave their base. Democrats in Congress appear to have reached a compromise with the Bush administration to fund the Iraq war without a withdrawal timetable in exchange for more spending on domestic programs, both the NYT and Post report on the front page. The LAT has a nice front-page feature on the business partnership between two women in Iran, one upper class and one working class, that says a lot about life in Iran today. And dumb criminals are making it easier on prosecutors by using their cell-phone cameras to take photos of things they oughtn’t, the WSJ reports. “Drug dealers just naturally take pictures of their drugs and their money and their significant others,” one expert said.