Trick or Treaty

Trick or Treaty

Trick or Treaty

A summary of what's in the major U.S. newspapers.
May 25 2002 6:54 AM

Trick or Treaty

Everybody leads with the arms control pact signed by Presidents Bush and Putin yesterday in Moscow. Coming in at a scant 475 words, according to the Washington Post, the so-called Moscow Treaty will reduce the number of deployed nuclear warheads by two-thirds over the next 10 years.

"President Putin and I today ended a long chapter of confrontation and opened up an entirely new relationship between our countries," George W. says in the Post. But the love-in was later marred by some testy back-and-forth, as Putin defended the nuclear know-how Russia is providing Iran. "The U.S.," he says in the New York Times, "has taken a commitment upon themselves to build similar nuclear power plants in North Korea." The U.S. questions Iran's need for a nuclear power plant. "It's interesting that Iran, which is not a country with an energy shortage, would spend large sums developing a nuclear power capacity," an administration official says in the Los Angeles Times

In a news analysis, the NYT reminds that only 14 months ago Putin wanted to join forces with China to counter U.S. supremacy. "There was a month or two when it could have gone either way," says a senior American official, "until Putin figured out that the Chinese didn't have a lot to offer."

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Russian state television played and replayed footage of Bush chewing gum upon entering the meeting and then spitting it into his hand, reports the Post. Apparently, extreme forms of presidential informality have yet to become de rigueur in Moscow. Speaking to religious, media, and human rights leaders after the signing, Bush raised his objections to Russian actions in Chechnya. "The experience in Afghanistan," he says in the Post, "has taught us all that there's lessons to be learned about how to protect one's homeland and, at the same time, be respectful on the battlefield."

An LAT analysis argues that tactical nuclear weapons, which are not dealt with in the treaty, pose the biggest threat because they could fall into the wrong hands in Russia. 

The papers all front Coleen Rowley and her 13-page letter (that's about four times the length of the Moscow Treaty) accusing the FBI of undermining the pre-Sept 11 investigation of Zacarias Moussaoui, the so-called 20th hijacker. The local bureau in Minneapolis (where Rowley is general counsel) had information from the French government on Moussaoui's nefarious doings, but the home office in Washington, D.C., downplayed the information, the NYT reports. And it may be worse than that, according to the WP: "In one example, Rowley alleges that officials in Washington removed crucial information from an affidavit in support of a search of Moussaoui's computer, causing FBI lawyers to ultimately reject the application ..."

Rowley hand-delivered her letter to her boss at the bureau, Director Robert Mueller, and to members of Congress. "Director Mueller can label this letter classified and the FBI can circle the wagons, but a coverup is not going to work," Sen. Charles Grassley (R-Iowa) says in the WP. "This letter documents exactly what headquarters knew and when, and how mid-level officials sabotaged the Moussaoui case before the attacks."

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The NYT and LAT front the resignation of the archbishop of Milwaukee, who acknowledges that he paid $450,000 to settle a sexual assault claim brought not by a child, but by a man who was 31 at the time. The subject of a two-part New Yorker profile in 1991, Archbishop Weakland was a progressive who argued, among other things, that women should have more authority in the church, the NYT reports.

Yesterday's other big resignation was filed by U.S. Olympic Chief Sandra Baldwin, who lied about her education, according to a NYT fronter. She claimed to have a B.A. from the University of Colorado (it was actually from Arizona State) and a Ph.D. from Arizona State (but she never wrote her dissertation because she was too busy with her two kids and the family farm). It's only been six months since Notre Dame's football coach fled campus following similar misstatements.

Pakistan began a series of missile tests yesterday, perhaps instigating more trouble with India, according to the NYT's off-lead. An Indian spokeswoman, however, said that her country was "not particularly impressed by these missile antics, clearly targeted at the domestic audience in Pakistan." The tests came a day after Pakistan announced it was moving troops from border to border, Afghan to Indian. The WP's editorial on the matter opens with the chilling "India and Pakistan have now escalated their rhetoric and war preparations to the point where it will be difficult to back down."

Finally, the LAT fronts the thousands of South Korean women who come to the U.S. on tourist visas to see the sights, do some shopping, and give birth. A cottage industry has sprung up—a loose collaboration of lawyers, travel agents, and health clinics—that paves the way for these globetrotting moms-to-be. For about $20,000, a South Korean woman can give her newborn the "ultimate gift" (as the LAT has it): U.S. citizenship, as guaranteed by the 14th Amendment to anyone born on American soil.