Deluge in Fallujah

Deluge in Fallujah

Deluge in Fallujah

A summary of what's in the major U.S. newspapers.
Nov. 8 2004 6:14 AM

Deluge in Fallujah

The Washington Post, the Los Angeles Timesand the New York Times lead with continued fighting in Fallujah in what everyone is deeming only the first stage of the much-anticipated battle against insurgents. On Sunday Iraqi Prime Minister Ayad Allawi declared a 60-day state of emergency, enabling the government to set curfews and detain suspected criminals, among other broad powers. Elsewhere in Iraq, more than 30 were struck dead across country by guerrilla car bombings and mortar attacks. USA Today leads with the CIA's most extensive domestic deployment in the agency's history. Dozens of officers will be working with FBI agents on terrorism investigations.

Between 10,000 and 15,000 American soldiers accompanied by Iraqi troops entered Fallujah Sunday, securing two strategic bridges and a hospital. Everyone mentions officials' hope that this battle will be more successful than the abortive mission in the city that took place in April. The paper's stories differ in their characterization of the intensity of the fight in Fallujah, though. While the NYT's headline says that "GI's open attack" and USAT's head reads, "US and Iraqi troops begin assault," the LAT plays it a little milder, reporting that "US troops advance to Fallujah's edge."

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Journalists appear scarce in Fallujah: The NYT and the Christian Science Monitor apparently have reporters in the city, while the WP and LAT stories have a Baghdad dateline. The LAT cryptically credits an unnamed "special correspondent in Fallujah" who contributed to their report.

Assessing the occupation in Iraq as "ambitious" and "grim," the NYT editorial board calls for an increase of nearly 40,000 more troops in the country to meet the president's stated goals.

According to late-breaking reports, Yasser Arafat's wife accused Palestinian leaders of trying to depose her husband and forced them to cancel a trip to the Paris hospital where he is. "You have to realize the size of the conspiracy. I tell you they are trying to bury Abu Ammar alive," she told Al Jazeera television, referring to her sick husband.

France sent additional troops to the Ivory Coast Sunday. One day after a government air strike killed nine French peacekeepers, government loyalists attacked French homes and businesses in the country's commercial center. While the NYT has a reporter in Senegal covering the story, the WSJ and WP run an Associated Press report that has an Ivory Coast dateline, and it paints a considerably graver picture of the violence there.

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The LAT and WSJ report that Iran reached a tentative deal with France, Britain, and Germany to freeze parts of its nuclear program, according to officials on Sunday. Iran is considering suspending all activities related to enriching uranium, and accepting the deal would allow them to avoid U.N. sanctions.

The Post checks in on the government's ability to protect the United States from bioterrorism and learns it is chillingly unprepared. Among the problems: hospitals cannot accommodate widespread vaccinations after a large biological attack; the National Institutes of Health are not producing new vaccines; plans on how the government should communicate with the public after an attack are incomplete; the departments of Homeland Security and Health and Human Services cannot decide who is in charge of preparing for bio-attacks.

The NYT fronts an eye-opening piece on the Bush administration's answer to the Supreme Court ruling on rights of detainees in the war on terror. Inmates won the legal right to formally challenge their imprisonment, but these Guantánamo prisoners do not go to court. The defendants argue their case in front of a military tribunal in a trailer on the base; they do not have lawyers and are not allowed to see most of the evidence against them because it is classified.

The "untold story of the 2004 election," says the WP on its front page, is the impressive organization of the evangelical Christian right. In many battleground states, evangelical Protestants, conservative Roman Catholics, and others took it upon themselves to mobilize voters for President Bush, often organizing without connecting with campaign officials. Ministers sermonizing on voting; organizing voting drives around same-sex marriage bans; handing out voter registration forms on Sunday—they all contributed to the crucial demographic coming out in scores for Bush.

Also in the Taking Credit for the Election Department, the LAT reports that business leaders are eager to cash in on their investments in Republican campaigns. "With his victory and better numbers in the Senate and the House, we hope we would get to some things we believe are long overdue," said Dirk Van Dongen, president of the National Association of Wholesaler-Distributors.

Michael Scheuer, the once-anonymous author of the best-selling Imperial Hubris, is talking to the press again after being hushed up by the CIA, where he is a top counterterrorism official and the former chief of the agency's Osama Bin Laden unit. He tells the NYT that the Bush administration is mischaracterizing al-Qaida as a terrorist organization when it is in fact an evolving global Islamic insurgency. Many of the dead or captured operatives have been replaced by others, Scheuer says. He laments how much is still unknown about the group: "We still don't know how big it is. We still, today, don't know the order of battle of al-Qaida."