Cooper's Scoop

Cooper's Scoop

Cooper's Scoop

A summary of what's in the major U.S. newspapers.
July 18 2005 5:52 AM

Cooper's Scoop

The Washington Post and the Los Angeles Times lead with the first criminal case filed against Saddam Hussein, alleging that he was involved in a 1982 massacre of more than 150 people in the village of Dujail. Saddam could be tried as early as September, and he could be sentenced to death if found guilty. USA Todayleads with the high Army re-enlistment rates attributed largely to unprecedented cash bonuses. The New York Times leads with the paper's own revelations that New York state's Medicaid program is plagued by multibillion dollar fraud. The Wall Street Journal tops its world-wide newsbox with the latest in Iraq, including the violence that rocked the country over the weekend.

The charges against Saddam were filed by a special tribunal in Iraq responsible for sorting through evidence that allegedly links him to about a dozen atrocities that occurred while he was in power. The Dujail massacre is not the largest or deadliest of tragedies that occurred during his rule, but for that reason it was one of the easiest to investigate. Meanwhile in Iraq, the death toll in Saturday night's suicide bombing rose to 100.

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Between October and June, 53,120 U.S. soldiers recommitted and pushed the Army ahead of its re-enlistment goal by 6 percent. USAT notes high up that the re-enlistments are helping to offset the recruiting shortfall, but lower in the article it says that the re-enlistment rates make up only about a third of the Army's projected 12,000-troop deficit.

The papers—except for the Post—front the latest chapter in the Plame saga. Matthew Cooper's first-person account of testifying to a federal grand jury last week was posted on Time magazine's site Sunday (subscription required), and the papers mostly do a summary of his story and his appearances on Sunday morning talk shows. Among the new information Cooper dishes: Karl Rove was the first to tell him that Joseph Wilson's wife was a CIA officer, and Cheney aide I. Lewis "Scooter" Libby was a second source on the story. According to Cooper, Rove closed their now-famous conversation by saying, "I've already said too much."

The LAT says that Rove and Libby were, in the words of the paper, "especially intent on undercutting Wilson's credibility" and that Rove's interest was "so strong that it prompted questions in the White House. When asked at one point why he was pursuing the diplomat so aggressively, Rove reportedly responded: 'He's a Democrat.' " The source? Someone "directly familiar with information provided to prosecutors."

The Post tucks Howard Kurtz's recap of the Cooper article inside on A2, which also includes Cooper's comments in a CNN interview characterizing Rove's tone as "disparaging toward Wilson."

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The NYT has legal experts weigh in on whether the law has been violated by the two White House officials now known to have spoken to Cooper about Plame. The statute in question makes it a crime to identify covert operatives, but a prosecutor has to show that the leaker knew the disclosure was outing a covert operative, and the leaker has to have authorized access to classified information.

The WP reports that President Bush OK'd covert plans to support the election campaigns of Iraqis close to the administration, but officials maintain that the plans were thrown out prior to the January vote. According to the paper, an article in the upcoming New Yorker will report that, though there were objections from Congress, the White House actually carried out the plan to boost Ayad Allawi's campaign.

The papers go inside with violence in the Gaza Strip, where Israeli forces killed another Hamas member Sunday.

The LAT fronts news that tens of thousands of tourists were forced to vacate their hotels as Hurricane Emily slammed into Mexico's Yucatan peninsula early Monday.

In a special report, USA Today documents how the number of air ambulance crashes has risen lately, and how the FAA has failed to take action that might have prevented these accidents. In the last five years, 84 crashes have caused 60 fatalities—that's more than twice as many crashes as in the previous five years.

GOP strategists are expecting the announcement of a Supreme Court justice nomination this week, according to the Post. The NYTimes looks at how those involved in the selection process aren't strangers to one another, having run in the same circles for years. National Public Radio's Nina Totenberg weighs in with this assessment of the players involved in the court pick: "It's certainly incestuous, and I can't tell whether these folks hate each other or like each other."