Putintive Measures

Putintive Measures

Putintive Measures

A summary of what's in the major U.S. newspapers.
Oct. 29 2002 4:35 AM

Putintive Measures

The New York Times leads with Russian President Vladimir Putin's tough words redefining Russia's war against Chechen separatists as a fight against "international terrorism" that will be fought beyond the borders of Russia and Chechnya. Russia, said Putin, will strike "all the places where the terrorists themselves, the organizers of these crimes and their ideological and financial inspirers are. I stress, wherever they may be located." The Times says Putin, in his post-9/11-esque speech, only referred to a broad war on international terrorists and didn't even mention Chechen fighters.  USA Today leads with yesterday's murder of a U.S. diplomat outside his home in Amman, Jordan. Laurence Foley, 60, was an administrator for the U.S. Agency for International Development; he was shot eight times by an unidentified gunman. No group has yet claimed responsibility. The Washington Post leads with word that prosecutors in Virginia, invoking the state's post-Sept. 11 anti-terrorism law, filed capital murder charges against the two alleged snipers, John Allen Muhammad and John Lee Malvo. The use of the anti-terror law could help prosecutors get the death penalty without having to prove who fired the fatal shots. The Post also says that federal authorities plan to file their own charges against Muhammad and Malvo, perhaps as soon as today. The Los Angeles Times leads with a poll on California's race for governor concluding that Democratic incumbent Gray Davis has a nearly 10-point lead over his opponent, Bill Simon. But it wasn't exactly whole-hearted support: Fifty-six percent of respondents said they have an "unfavorable" view of Davis.

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The NYT fronts, and others stuff, word from U.S. officials said that they suspect the gas used in Saturday's hostage rescue was an opiate, and not a nerve gas as first suspected. Unlike nerve agents, opiates are typically non-lethal and aren't necessarily banned by the Chemical Weapons Treaty. The specific drug was likely Fentanyl, which the NYT says the U.S. has also been studying as a potential (non-lethal) weapon. So far, 116 of the hostages have died from exposure to the gas.

A front-page WP piece headlines, "BUSH TO FORCE VOTE ON IRAQ RESOLUTION."  The article explains that the administration is setting "what amounts to a deadline" of next week for the U.N. to pass a resolution on Iraq. But the one quote pertinent to that is pretty wishy-washy. "We're not at the point of giving ultimatums," a senior White House aide said (Ari?). "The president has made it very clear that we are nearing the end of this process. I predict this will be concluded by the end of next week, but we're not ruling anything out." The NYT has a softer view of things, saying that the White House "emphasized that talks were still progressing and might extend into next week."

Everybody notes that top U.N. weapons inspector Hans Blix, along with his international atomic-agency counterpart, both essentially endorsed the U.S.'s position that any resolution on Iraq should contain the threat of military action. On the other hand, the inspectors also said that a few of the provisions in the U.S.'s proposed resolution are unrealistic, such as the requirement that Iraq must completely declare all its chemical and bio weapons within 30 days of the resolution passing.

FYI, the NYT's photo caption on Bush and Iraq has a mistake: It says the president was standing "in front of a B-2 bomber that is no longer in use." B-2s are too handy, and too pricey, to decommission. Bush was standing in front of a B-1.

A piece inside the Post says that prisoners at Guantanamo Bay no longer have much useful information. "Most of the detainees aren't being asked about al-Qaida anymore," said one unnamed official. "They're asking them things like, 'Why do Muslims dislike America in that part of the world?' "

The Wall Street Journal says that Indonesian police said yesterday that they believe the killing two months ago of two American schoolteachers in an Indonesian province was actually carried out by an Indonesian military unit (really). The Journal points out that that's not good news for those, including the Bush administration, who want to reauthorize U.S. military aid to the country.

The NYT has an embarrassing correction: "Aheadline yesterday and a front-page summary for an article about President Bush's visit to Mexico misstated the facts of the article, about Mexico's stance in the United Nations Security Council toward Iraq. ... President Vicente Fox did not tell Mr. Bush that Mexico would not support it." (Yesterday's TP  mentioned that.)

The WSJ looks at law enforcement's latest crime-fighting technique: "Wet workshops," in which trainee cops serve alcohol to volunteers and then practice giving sobriety tests. The Journal says that some cops do similar tests with drugs, although, of course, they don't actually hand out the goods. Instead, they troll rock concerts asking people if they're stoned and perhaps would like volunteer as test subjects. Plenty of people are happy to show their civic-mindedness. "I'm not screwed up now," said one reveler. "But I'll be back in a couple hours.' "

Eric Umansky, previously the "Today's Papers" columnist for Slate, is currently a Gordon Grey Fellow at Columbia University's School of Journalism.