The New York Times, Washington Post, Wall Street Journal world-wide newsbox, and Los Angeles Times all lead with yesterday's Israeli missile attack on one of the founders of Hamas, which left him and about 30 others injured, along with two dead. The strike, especially provocative in that it targeted a political figure, earned a lashing from President Bush. (Israeli officials argued that the leader is "active in the military branch of Hamas.") Israel also launched another attack later in the day, which it said was in response to rockets being fired on a settlement in Gaza. Three people were killed in that strike. USA Today fronts a photo of the first attack, but leads with a Pentagon planner's admission that the situation in post-war Iraq has been "tougher and more complex" than the United States had prepared for. USAT also notices that Secretary of Defense Rumsfeld said he doesn't think attacks against GIs will end anytime soon: "Do I think it's going to disappear in the next month or two or three? No." One GI was killed and another injured in an attack yesterday in Baghdad.
"I am troubled by the recent Israeli helicopter gunship attacks," said Bush. "I'm concerned that the attacks will make it more difficult for the Palestinian leadership to fight off terrorist attacks. I also don't believe the attacks help the Israeli security." The LAT says that Bush was ticked about the second attack because it came just hours after White House officials phoned Israeli counterparts and asked them to cool things off.
The Journal says that Israel had told U.S. officials it would limit its "targeted killings" to "ticking bombs"—militants about to launch a strike. As "commentators" told the paper, yesterday's attack doesn't fit with that.
Asked what motivated the assassination attempt—which is what the Journal, LAT, and Post call it—an Israeli official told the LAT that Palestinian Prime Minster Mahmoud Abbas is "not ready" to crack down on militant groups yet. "So during this interim twilight period—which could be two weeks, two months, who knows how long?—is Hamas to think it's immune?"
Following a similar piece in yesterday's WP, the NYT says that the enemy facing U.S. forces in Iraq are organized guerrillas, not just disgruntled Iraqis taking potshots. One tip-off: They're using a multi-colored flare system to signal the arrival of GIs.
Meanwhile, the WP looks at one town, Karbala, where reconstruction is going well. There haven't been any attacks against U.S. troops and electricity is at twice its prewar levels. Among the reasons: The town is largely Shiite and clerics there, while not exactly throwing leis at GIs, have urged followers to cooperate.
The Journal notes up high that Iraq boss Paul Bremer announced yesterday he's trying to prime the pump of the country's economy with a $100 million fund to hire Iraqis for rebuilding projects. It's estimated that well over half the labor force is unemployed.
The WP goes inside with congressional budget analysts' estimate that this year's federal deficit will exceed $400 billion. In January, they projected that it would be half that. Defense spending and tax cuts are the primary causes of the ballooning, said the analysts.
The LAT fronts and others stuff word that Rumsfeld chose a retired special operations commander to serve as the new Army chief of staff. It's rare for a retired officer to be chosen for such a top spot and everybody sees it as further evidence of Rumsfeld's push to transform the Army into a lighter, more special-ops friendly, force. (Slate's Fred Kaplan made that point yesterday.)
Everybody mentions that ImClone founder Sam Waksal was sentenced yesterday for insider trading and got the max, seven years in the slammer.
The papers all reefer the death of Donald Regan, one of President Reagan's top aides. He was 84. Regan, who was secretary of treasury then chief of staff, left the administration after a commission said he deserved a chunk of blame for the Iran-Contra scandal. (Today's WSJ has an op-ed by Regan supporting the recent tax cuts.)
The NYT's Maureen Dowd, in a tight race with herself for Pointless Column of the Year, files another solid contender: "Maybe because I grew up in Washington, where conformity rules and where men who wear Armani are assumed to be gigolos, I'm a little suspicious of guys who look too pulled together."
The NYT fronts the latest on the possibility of extending the recently passed child tax credit to include low-income families. On Monday, White House spokesman Ari Fleischer told the House, "Pass it." Yesterday, House Majority leader Tom DeLay responded, "Ain't going to happen." He added, "The last time I checked, [Fleischer] doesn't have a vote."