The New York Times, Wall Street Journal world-wide newsbox, and Washington Post alllead with the White House's surprise announcement that President Bush has asked Secretary of Treasury John Snow to stick around. There had long been speculation that Snow would be booted, culminating a few days in a SAO telling the Post that Snow could stay as long as he liked, provided it wasn't very long. USA Todayleads with word that the Dept. of Homeland Security's effort to create a list of potential terrorist targets, such as dams, nuke plants, and skyscrapers, is way behind schedule and kind of whacked. Apparently, it includes water parks and miniature golf course, but not some major sites. "Their list is a joke," said one Republican congressman. The Los Angeles Timesleads with Ukraine's parliament passing laws checking the president's power and strengthening safeguards against voter fraud. In response, opposition protesters eased their barricades of government buildings. The NYT sees the deal, which was really a compromise, as allowing Ukraine's outgoing president to "preserve significant political influence." The presidential runoff will be Dec. 26.
The Snow dissing doesn't appear to be over: The papers hear that Bush committed to Snow only after first considering a few other candidates. And the Post says Bush actually offered the job to one exec, who turned it down. Eventually, the White House decided leaving Snow hanging was bad for the markets and the administration. The WP says "some of Bush's aides expressed bafflement" that the president dilly-dallied for so long.
Also, the secretary of Veterans Affairs, Anthony Principi, announced his resignation; nine of the 15 Cabinet secretaries have now left the building.
Everybodyfronts SecDef Rumsfeld's Q&A encounter with forward-leaning GIs in Kuwait. One asked why soldiers are scrounging around for "rusted scrap metal" to add onto their unarmored trucks and Humvees. Once cheers from fellow GIs died down, Rumsfeld responded, "You go to war with the Army you have, not the Army you might want or wish to have at a later time." He added, "If you think about it, you can have all the armor in the world on a tank and a tank can be blown up." The Post plays up how pissed those remarks made congressional Democrats and "some military experts." Other GIs asked about stop-loss orders as well as the old equipment many National Guard units are stuck with.
The Pentagon's chief spokesman later said that there are plenty of armored vehicles in Iraq and the ones that aren't just stay on bases. But the NYT speaks to one of the commanders of the GI who complained. The officer estimated that 95 percent of his unit's 300 trucks don't have proper armor. The military recently upped the number of armored Humvees it says it needs in Iraq, from 5,000 to 8,000. (TP wrote early this year about the lack of planning for building armored Humvees and trucks.)
In Iraq yesterday, guerrillas stormed a police station in Samara and looted the weapons inside. Also, Samara's police chief resigned. There were also clashes in Mosul, Ramadi, and Baghdad, killing about a half-dozen Iraqi troops and civilians. The Post says in Ramadi, "Insurgents roamed openly on the city's west side."
Everybody mentions appointed Prime Minister Allawi's proposal to extend (not delay) the coming elections over a few weeks. An official with Iraq's election commission said he hadn't heard of the idea and told the AP, "We are the ones who set the voting mechanism."
The Post details a lawsuit brought by a CIA vet who says his bosses urged him to "falsify" (WP) pre-war intel on Iraq and when he refused launched a retaliatory investigation of him. "Their official dogma was contradicted by his reporting and they did not want to hear it," said a lawyer for the once undercover officer, who worked at the CIA for 23 years—until he was recently fired—and was in charge of some Iraqi informants. The story is on A2.
In a NYT op-ed, writer Kevin Doughten says he's sorry: "For the past three Christmas shopping seasons, I have been taking performance-enhancing drugs to give myself a competitive advantage at the mall. I'd like to apologize first to those my actions hurt the most: my family, my friends, and the management and staff of the stores at the Garden State Plaza Mall in Paramus, N.J."