Gone Fission

Gone Fission

Gone Fission

A summary of what's in the major U.S. newspapers.
June 14 2000 7:46 AM

Gone Fission

USA Today and the Los Angeles Times lead with the first wave of embarrassing details from the Los Alamos "Do I have all the secrets about our nuclear arsenal? I thought you had all the secrets about our nuclear arsenal" scandal and the intense political--you should pardon the expression--fallout they've inspired. The New York Times plays the lab debacle bottom front, going instead with the good leader-to-leader vibes coming out of the Korean summit, as does the Washington Post, which, however, puts Los Alamos above the fold.

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USAT starts right off hitting appropriately hard a point it had backdoored yesterday: The Los Alamos lab waited for more than three weeks before telling the Energy Department and the FBI about its little problem. (The NYT also hits this high.) The USAT lead's first sentence reveals that DOE policy required a report within eight hours. The paper quotes a federal official very familiar with the missing material as saying it contains detailed schematics of U.S. nukes as well as of some Russian ones. Both Los Alamos leads report that at this point the DOE is insisting there is no evidence pointing to espionage.

Both papers report that six lab honchos were put on paid leave as an investigation swings into action, with the LAT stressing this higher and including it in its headline. The LAT says the missing drives were kept in a walk-in 10-foot-by-20-foot vault, subject to what the DOE's top security official described yesterday as "three levels of protection," including a password before authorized personnel are allowed to enter. In addition, says the paper, the hard drives were in locked compartments in a locked bag, with the whole area equipped with motion and infrared detectors. But, says the paper, the lab does not keep a record of who removes classified material from this setup, prompting one stunned congressman at yesterday's hearings on the matter, Bart Stupak, to exclaim that his hometown library back in Menominee, Mich., has a more sophisticated system for tracking Winnie the Pooh. The LAT quotes one senator saying that "you can point the finger at one man": Energy Secretary Bill Richardson.

The Korea leads make it clear the two leaders are hitting it off. The WP has North Korea's Kim Jong Il tell South Korea's Kim Dae Jung, "I am convinced that all problems will be resolved," to which Kim Dae Jung replied, "I agree. From now, we must talk directly." And the paper says Kim Jong Il also said to his counterpart, "Don't worry. I will give you the best treatment possible." Although thus far there have been no concrete agreements arrived at, late yesterday the two men announced they are now registered at the Pusan Ikea.

Both the NYT and the LAT front the agreement Tuesday of the U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals to hear Microsoft's appeal of the adverse antitrust verdict it received last week. The papers note that this appeals court previously made a ruling favorable to Microsoft. And the LAT quotes a law professor noting that of the court's seven judges, four are Republicans, three of whom are "arch conservatives." This is, he's quoted saying, "very good news for Microsoft." But it is still not clear what will happen next--the papers report that the DOJ has filed a request to get the case sent for immediate review instead to the Supreme Court. And while, for instance, the Wall Street Journal, in its take on the development (flagged at the top of the front-page biz news box), says the appeals court's signaled readiness to hear the case could hurt the government's chances of immediate Supreme Court review, the NYT says high up that if the Supremes agree to that review, the appeals court has to bow out.

NYT columnist Paul Krugman asks the question about the recent House vote to eliminate the estate tax: "So why did most members of the House vote to repeal a tax that yields $30 billion per year, yet doesn't touch the vast majority of their constituents?" Krugman's answer: Because the vast minority of their constituents who benefit are the ones with the money.

The NYT reports that yesterday, J.P. Morgan & Co., a bank worth more than $21 billion, was disconnected from the Internet because of its failure to pay the $35 required to renew the registration of its domain name. A rep from Network Solutions, which administers such matters, tells the Times that Morgan was sent at least three bills.

The USAT front reports that George W. Bush is making progress toward selecting a running mate. The story says about a dozen people are under consideration. Those contacted thus far include, says the paper, Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Ridge and Nebraska Sen. Chuck Hagel. Former Missouri Sen. John Danforth was contacted but declined to be considered. The story says that a leading contender is Oklahoma Gov. Frank Keating, said to appeal to Bush because he's a former FBI agent who's served in the last two Republican presidential administrations and a Catholic opposed to abortion. One complication though: The story says that Bush has said one of his criteria for veep is the ability of the person being considered to keep the selection process confidential. And yet the USAT story says that Keating received and returned a personal and financial questionnaire of the sort that Bush is having VP prospects fill out. Now, how would the paper know that?