Everybody leads with the Security Council's 15-0 passage of a resolution blessing Iraq's interim government.
The resolution says the new government can boot out international troops and says that foreign forces will have to work in "close coordination" with the government. But it doesn't give Iraqis a veto over operations as France had wanted.
Most of the papers mention that the resolution doesn't include a clause supporting minority rights, a clause Kurdish leaders have demanded and Shiite leaders have opposed. But only the New York Timesadds it all up. The Kurds are threatening to secede and,as the Times reports on Page One, said so in a letter this week to President Bush. The interim constitution, created with U.S. help, included what amounted to a Kurdish veto over new laws. Grand Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani has demanded that clause be revoked. And the U.N. resolution, as the Times notes, essentially confirms that the U.S. has acceded. The NYT has two op-eds complaining about the seeming sellout.
In a bit the papers have yet to focus on, while Sistani recently tried to bring renegade cleric Muqtada Sadr into the political process, the U.S. has decided to try to marginalize the upstart. Proconsul Paul Bremer just signed an order essentially barring Sadr from politics for three years. Meanwhile, Knight Ridder says Sadr's popularity is still growing.
USA Todaysays the Marines are sending another 5,000 troops to Iraq, bringing the total U.S. force there to 145,000. The article also quotes a top Marine general saying they're about tapped out. He said he is "not sure what we will do in 2005. The Marines have not been in a prolonged combat like this since Vietnam. They can't do that indefinitely."
Everybody mentions that U.S. special forces apparently rescued four Western hostages, three Italians and a Pole. Few details were released. Meanwhile kidnappings continued, with Iraqi militants announcing that they had taken seven Turks hostage, though two may have already been freed. Six European soldiers—two Poles, three Slovaks,and a Latvian—died in an explosion apparently caused by a mine. The military also announced that one Marine and one GI have been killed and about 10 soldiers wounded.
The Los Angeles Timessays on Page One that after "American Taliban" John Walker Lindh was captured in late 2001, Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld's office ordered interrogators to "take the gloves off." The Times, which cites government documents, notes that Lindh was interrogated, naked, for days on end.
The Washington Postand Wall Street Journal go high with Attorney General Ashcroft's grilling on the Hill, where he refused to release administration documents that claimed the goverment isn't bound by antitorture laws or treaties. The Journal sticks it to Ashcroft and posts one of the briefs. Ashcroft also said the president "made no order that would require or direct the violation" of international or domestic laws.
In a bit of context that this morning's papers fly by, none of the abuse investigations have been tasked with looking at White House-level decisions.
The NYT says inside that the officer in charge of interrogations last year at Abu Ghraib had no previous interrogation experience.
According to a wire story inside the NYT, the military has acknowledged that a soldier beaten at Gitmo while he posed as an uncooperative prisoner was in fact discharged because of serious injuries from the beating.
The NYT says on Page One that interim Iraqi Prime Minister Iyad Allawi may have overseen a bombing campaign in Baghdad back in the mid-1990s that may have killed some civilians. The piece relies on former CIA agents who say they can't remember many details but insist it wasn't a big sabotage operation. "I don't recall very much killing of anyone," said one former spook.
As the papers note inside, an American defense contractor was killed in Saudi Arabia. The NYT adds it up: Since May 1, militants in the kingdom have murdered 28 foreigners.
The Journal mentions that five Marines were wounded and 21 suspected guerrillas killed in a clash in Afghanistan.
The Post goes Page One with a record settlement, nearly $2 million, radio biggie Clear Channel has agreed to pay the FCC for Howard Stern's potty mouth.
With the remarkable exception of the Journal, the papers' editorial pages all take swings at the administration's torture logic. The Postgoes for the bleachers: "Theirs is the logic of criminal regimes, of dictatorships around the world that sanction torture on grounds of 'national security.' " It then makes a point TP hasn't seen in the news pages:
Before the Bush administration took office, the Army's interrogation procedures—which were unclassified—established this simple and sensible test: No technique should be used that, if used by an enemy on an American, would be regarded as a violation of U.S. or international law. Now, imagine that a hostile government were to force an American to take drugs or endure severe mental stress that fell just short of producing irreversible damage; or pain a little milder than that of "organ failure, impairment of bodily function, or even death." What if the foreign interrogator of an American "knows that severe pain will result from his actions" but proceeds because causing such pain is not his main objective? What if a foreign leader were to decide that the torture of an American was needed to protect his country's security? Would Americans regard that as legal, or morally acceptable? According to the Bush administration, they should.