The Los Angeles Times and Washington Post lead with President Bush's announcement, as previously leaked, that he will nominate John Snow, chairman of rail-freight giant CSX, as secretary of treasury. The New York Times leads with a check-in on Iraq's disclosure report: The five permanent members of the Security Council, including the U.S., have all received uncensored copies of the report. The other countries on the Council will have to wait until Hans Blix and his assistants excise any information about how to build nukes. USA Today's lead says that President Bush is "considering" pushing for a new prescription drug plan. Under the proposal, in order to get their drugs covered, seniors would have to leave the traditional fee-for-service Medicare and enroll in an HMO that would have higher out-of-pocket fees for doctors' visits. The paper got word of the potential policy from an interview it had with Secretary of Health and Human Services Tommy Thompson, who said he's pushing Bush to green-light the idea. A White House spokesman said it's "premature" to talk abut the plan.
Everybody mentions that Snow's reign at CSX has some dark spots. In the bit that gets the most attention, CSX loaned Snow $25 million to buy company stock. When the stock tanked, the company forgave much of the loan. Under the corporate reform bill passed earlier this year, such loans are now verboten. Nobody, by the way, seems to pick up on a liberal research group's report that CSX has somehow managed to avoid paying federal taxes over the past few years.
The Post says in a front-page piece that the White House reassured allies that it won't use Iraq's 12,000-page declaration as a trigger for war. "They might use it as a piece of the puzzle, but not as a trigger," said one diplomat. (The NYT posts a copy of the report's table of contents, in PDF format.)
The Wall Street Journal says that the Pentagon is going to be ready to have military tribunals by the end of the month. The paper adds that officials are considering defining membership in al-Qaida as a war crime.
Everybody goes high with a federal judge's rejection of congressional investigators' lawsuit that tried to force Vice President Cheney to cough up records from his energy policy task force. The General Accounting Office, Congress' investigative arm, had been trying to get the vice prez to reveal which lobbyists and industry reps took part in the meetings. The judge explained that Congress hasn't issued any subpoenas, so if Cheney doesn't want to name names, he doesn't have to. The NYT says an appeal is "almost certain."
An editorial in the Post wonders how it is that the White House can find a new secretary of treasury in a few days while the SEC chairmanship and the SEC's top accounting position have both been open for over a month. Meanwhile, a news piece in the Journal checks in the chairman search and says that the administration has narrowed it down to about a half-dozen candidates.
The WP and LAT both front the continuing protests and general strike in Venezuela against President Hugo Chavez. The strike has now spread to Venezuela's national oil company, which provides the country with nearly 80 percent of its export revenue. Chavez, an autocratic leftist, has been losing popularity for months, and it hasn't gotten better since a gunman killed three protesters a few days ago.
Everybodynotes inside that Senate Republican leader Trent Lott has now apologized, more or less, for having said that the country would have been better off if Strom Thurmond had won the presidency in 1948, during his segregationist bid. Lott said, "A poor choice of words conveyed to some the impression that I embrace the discarded policies of the past. Nothing could be further from the truth, and I apologize to anyone who was offended by my statement."
A Column 1 piece in the LAT looks at what a mess Indonesia is: The military is largely autonomous, funding itself through illegal logging, mining, and, says the country's former defense minister, drug dealing. In one instance mentioned by the paper, Indonesian soldiers, firing mortars and anti-aircraft guns, attacked a police station where had a member of their unit had been jailed for drug dealing. The soldiers killed seven policemen (and freed their guy). The Bush administration has talked about re-establishing military ties with Indonesia.
The NYT has gotten an enormous amount of heat over the past few months for pushing various agendas, including what's seemed to some to be an anti-war, peacenik position. There is a touch of truth to those arguments, but the Times isn't exactly going around passing out love-beads. Consider this editorial in today's paper:
Iraq is entitled to no presumption of innocence. It has arrived at this point after invading, occupying and looting Kuwait and then failing to honor the cease-fire terms it accepted after that conflict. Had Baghdad kept its word then, its unconventional weapons would long ago have been destroyed and the sites where they were developed permanently monitored. If careful scrutiny of Iraq's new report shows it to be still defaulting on its promises, it will have forfeited the chance for a peaceful solution.