Making a Hit List, Checking It Twice

Making a Hit List, Checking It Twice

Making a Hit List, Checking It Twice

A summary of what's in the major U.S. newspapers.
Dec. 15 2002 5:36 AM

Making a Hit List, Checking It Twice

The New York Times leads with word that the Bush administration has drawn up a list of terrorists that the Central Intelligence Agency has permission to hunt down and kill. The Washington Post's lead says Bush plans to fill two long-vacant seats on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit, a move that Republican senators have previously opposed. The Los Angeles Times' top story says the U.S. is compiling a list of discrepancies in Iraq's weapons declaration to argue for tougher inspections. Officials want more investigators on the ground in Iraq, working in tandem to prevent Saddam Hussein from hiding weapons.

According to the NYT, the "previously undisclosed" CIA list includes plenty of familiar names, including Osama Bin Laden and nearly two dozen individuals linked to al-Qaida and affiliated groups. But the hunt isn't limited to just those on the list. The story says Bush has given written legal authority for the agency to essentially go after anyone it wants without seeking further approval from the White House. 

Advertisement

Unnamed officials insist the CIA will attempt to capture individuals first, but if that's "impractical," the agency will pursue and kill its targets. Bush aides contend this doesn't undermine a long-standing executive order banning assassinations because Bin Laden and Co. have been deemed "enemy combatants." Yet that policy forces the U.S. into a murky area of international law, the paper notes. For example, does the assassination ban extend beyond foreign leaders to civilians like, say, enemy combatants?

Bush's decision to appoint two judges to the D.C. Circuit has ruffled a few feathers, the WP notes. First, the two seats have been empty for years—one of them for more than a decade—because Senate Republicans blocked President Clinton from filling them. They contend the positions are a waste of taxpayers' money because the court is not busy enough to need extra judges.
 

Meanwhile, Democrats and liberal interest groups expect Bush will stack the court with conservative judges now that Republicans control the Senate and, by extension, the confirmation process. The paper notes that Bush has full reign to "tilt the ideological balance of a court that is surpassed in influence only by the Supreme Court." Among other things, the D.C. Circuit routinely decides cases that involve the role of federal agencies, the separation of government powers, and so on.

A related
story in the WP notes that between GOP-control of Congress and last week's federal court ruling that upheld the White House's right to secrecy, Bush will be shielded for the time being from potentially embarrassing congressional investigations into his administration—especially its relationship with big political donors. 

All the papers continue on Trent Lott-watch this morning. The NYT fronts a lengthy piece examining how the issue of segregation has long pervaded Lott's life and political career. There's not much new here—though the story does unearth several letters Lott wrote while working as a congressional aide in the 1960s that seem to argue against civil rights.

The WP gauges Republican reaction to the scandal in a front-page
piece, noting that Lott asked for and did not receive statements of support from Condoleezza Rice and Colin Powell last week. The story—as well as a similar piece in the LAT—says Republicans are increasingly wary of Lott's role as a leader in the party, especially as it tries to woo more minorities into the fold. Meanwhile, a "Week in Review" piece in the NYT looks at how America itself has developed a "happy amnesia" about its nasty history with race relations. "The story of civil rights has become a simple morality tale of a great wrong righted by a just people," the piece notes. In the process, the agonizing struggle and chaos of the era often gets overlooked.

Everybody covers the arrest of two suspected al-Qaida members in the murder of a U.S. envoy in Jordan two months ago. Jordanian officials say the men were planning a series of attacks throughout the country on embassies, celebrities, and other targets, according to the LAT.

The NYT
reports the Bush administration this week threatened to withdraw its support of a landmark international family-planning agreement because officials believe it promotes abortion. The message, delivered during a U.N. conference in Bangkok, managed to irk several U.S. allies, who complained the debate stalled discussion of issues including AIDS prevention.
A story in the LAT "Business" section looks at the latest squabble between Paul McCartney and Yoko Ono. McCartney's new live album features several old Beatles songs—cuts credited as being written by "Paul McCartney and John Lennon." Lennon's name used to be credited first, but McCartney now wants more of the glory, especially on songs that he primarily wrote. Ono says the move is petty and is considering legal recourse to retain the "Lennon and McCartney" credit.

Finally, the NYT
deconstructs domestic diva Martha Stewart and her syndicated TV show. For Stewart, the going has been a little rough lately. Last Wednesday, she accidentally spilled a bowl of Brussels sprouts in the sink. On Thursday, there was a typo in her recipe for cheese-coin crackers. And by the close of Friday's episode, the woman with a rep for perfection was picking shell out of the egg she had just cracked. Oh, and did someone mention something about a scandal on Wall Street?