The Washington Post and USA Today's leads follow up on the demise of Saddam's sons, with both papers emphasizing President Bush's comments that "now more than ever, all Iraqis can know that the former regime is gone." The New York Times leads with the House's near-unanimous vote to roll back one of the FCC's new rules easing media ownership restrictions. The White House had threatened to veto such a vote, but backed off yesterday in what the NYT says is the hope that the returned restrictions will be stripped during a House-Senate conference committee. The Senate is expected to vote on a similar measure in September. The Los Angeles Times banners California state officials' confirmation that the petition effort to recall Gov. Gray Davis has enough signatures to go to an election. State Lt. Gov. Cruz Bustamante, who himself is considered a candidate to replace Davis, will today announce the date of the election, which could be as soon as Sept. 23. Davis said he will remain in office and "fight like a Bengali tiger."
Everybody notes that two GIs in Iraq were killed yesterday and eight wounded in two separate attacks, one near Mosul, scene of Tuesday's shootout. And as the LAT and USAT catch, three more GIs were killed early this morning in another attack near Mosul.
As USAT notes up high, SecDef Rumsfeld said the military will soon release photos of Odai and Qusai—the latter of which military officials said appears to have shot himself. Meanwhile, in a piece and headline that may have been finished too early, the NYT goes above-the-fold with comments by the U.S.'s top general in Iraq that he's hesitant to release the photos of the dead brothers: "ARMY IS RELUCTANT TO FLAUNT PHOTOS OF HUSSEIN'S SONS." In a parenthetical—the kind typically inserted after a story is essentially finished—the piece notes Rumsfeld's statements about the impending release of the photos.
An Associated Press piece on USAT's Web site notices that the military said it's flying the brothers' bodies out of the country: "Officials would not say why the bodies were being taken out of Iraq or to where."
The LAT and WP both front pieces detailing yesterday's siege. As U.S. troops surrounded the house, the building's owner—and likely tattle-tale—reportedly told a neighbor, "I've got Oday, Qusay and big, big problems."
A piece inside the NYT headlines, "U.S. DEFENDS MOVE TO STORM HOUSE WHERE HUSSEIN BROTHERS WERE HIDING." Which is an interesting formulation, since the story itself never cites anybody questioning the operation.
Yesterday's LAT confidently asserted, "SONS' DEATHS A TURNING POINT IN CAMPAIGN." Seems a bit hard to really know that, doesn't it? Of course, there's always the possibility that the paper's editors attended a supposedly non-existent guerrilla coordinating committee meeting.
Today's Wall Street Journal has a more distanced take, "U.S. officials portrayed the deaths of Hussein's sons as a turning point in the effort to rebuild Iraq."
The papers go inside with the Pentagon's announcement of a rotation plan for troops in Iraq. While the 3rd Infantry Division is supposed to head back in September, other units will be replaced in the fall and in the spring. But the timetable seems less than ironclad: According to a chart in USAT, the Army's 101st division, slated to leave by March, will be replaced by "unspecified international forces."
A front-page WP piece suggests the administration ignored warnings from intel officials and others during the run-up to the war that the occupation would be harder than White House was estimating. According to the piece, part of the blame lies with the secretive Pentagon office that oversaw postwar preparations and was led by political appointees who shut out other agencies (and not just the State Dept.). First Iraq boss Jay Garner apparently didn't know about the office until a month after he was appointed. The piece is deeply reported, but it's easy to miss that since the article's headline is narrowly focused on a top Pentagon official's admission that mistakes were made: "WOLFOWITZ CONCEDES IRAQ ERRORS."
Everybody fronts, and the NYT off-leads, yesterday's shooting at New York's City Hall in which a gunman killed a city councilman before he himself was shot and killed by a police officer. The attacker had recently said he planned to run against the councilman in the next elections. City Hall is obviously heavily protected, but the shooter got inside because he arrived with the councilman who, as a top official, was exempt from having to go through metal detectors.
The papers continue to preview the about-to-be-released Senate report investigating 9/11. The NYT highlights the report's conclusions that the attacks might have been prevented if the CIA and FBI had simply communicated with each other. The paper headlines, "9/11 STUDY FAULTS F.B.I.-C.I.A. LAPSES." Yesterday's LAT had a slightly different take: "9/11 REPORT: NO EVIDENCE OF CRITICAL MISTAKES." The WSJ focuses on assertions that the administration has classified portions of the report not for national security reasons but to cover up embarrassing facts. Meanwhile, wire service UPI suggests another angle that—given the administration's previous assertions—just might make the biggest stink: "9/11 REPORT: NO SADDAM – AQ LINK."