Question Err?

Question Err?

Question Err?

A summary of what's in the major U.S. newspapers.
Oct. 19 2005 3:27 AM

Question Err?

The Washington Post, Los Angeles Times, Wall Street Journal world-wide newsbox, and New York Timesall lead with the 1989 form from Supreme Court nominee Harrier Miers in which she said she'd support a constitutional amendment banning abortion except to protect the life of the pregnant woman. The disclosure did nothing to help Miers among Democrats. USA Todayfronts Miers but leads with a preview of a massive government survey showing that 28 percent of all Iraqi vets come home with physical or mental health problems. The survey interviews every Iraqi vet after their tour of duty.

(According to early-morning reports, Wilma, which just became a hurricane yesterday, has already strengthened into a Category 4 and could become a Cat. 5 today. It's likely to hit Florida by this weekend.)

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Miers had filled out the form for an anti-abortion group back when she was running for City Council in Dallas. In addition to saying she'd support a congressional amendment, Miers checked boxes on the survey saying she would attend "pro-life" events and would use her "influence as an elected official" to "promote the pro-life cause."

The LAT and WSJ both see conservatives breathing easier. But the NYT says right up top that Miers' answers "failed to assuage the concerns of some conservative Republicans." The NYT quotes a few Republicans offering their continued concern, including Sen. Sam Brownback, who said simply, "It is a piece of evidence." Which sounds appropriately murky, perhaps because it doesn't include the part where Brownback called Miers' answers "comforting."

In addition to the old anti-abortion form and boxes of other documents, Miers responded to a questionnaire from the Senate Judiciary Committee. As USAT explains, Miers detailed how she faced far less vetting than most Supreme nominees. "The norm is to do as much of a background check as possible to prepare yourself for all possible attacks," said one scholar. "They did not do that here."

The WP picks up on some quality-control problems with Miers responses, flagging a few errors with dates and such. It also notices Miers' acknowledgment that she was briefly suspended from the D.C. bar last year for not paying her dues. Not letting up, the Post adds that Miers was "unusually inclusive in describing her role as a voice in the legal profession." She listed five dozen speeches and talks she's given, "including a few occasions in which she introduced main speakers, a eulogy she gave for the federal judge for whom she had clerked, and 'proposed talking points' for a speech on the Texas Lottery Commission that she marked as 'uncertain whether delivered.' "

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Citing "lawyers in the case and law enforcement officials," the NYT's off-lead says that Special Prosecutor Patrick Fitzgerald probably isn't going to issue a final report, which the NYT takes as evidence that indictments are in the pipeline. (It's not until about 20 paragraphs down that the Times explains that the law actually seems to frown on such a report regardless of whether there's an indictment or not.) In the other bit of specula-news, the Times says that according to "government officials," Fitzgerald is "not expected to take any action in the case this week." Not mentioned in the story: Judith Miller, or any of the remaining questions and contradictions surrounding her statements and her apparent refusal to cooperate with her own paper.

The NYT fronts and WP goes inside with FEMA and the Red Cross acknowledging that their count of nearly 600,000 Katrina survivors in hotels on the government's dime was off by, oh say, 400,000. FEMA pointed at the Red Cross, which runs the hotel program. The Red Cross in turn blamed its subcontractor. "Clearly, we made a mistake," said a Red Cross vice prez. Officials didn't know about the bad hotel stats until the NYT crunched the numbers and told officials they had a problem.

A Page One NYT piece notices at least one positive trend for the military: It's making scads of dough—$120 million per year—from slot machines offered to GIs. The piece says the military essentially squashed a congressionally mandated review of the operations that was meant to consider the impact of the gambling on GIs. "Everyone was very concerned that those revenues might go away," said a former researcher on the study.

The military announced two Marines were killed Monday in Iraq. The military also stuck by its story that it killed insurgents in Ramadi. "We have no indications that the allegations of civilian casualties is accurate," said a spokesman. (The AP has video of children apparently killed in the airstrikes.)

The Post takes a look at the CIA's not-so-rosy situation a year after current chief Porter Goss came onboard: The agency is "bleeding talent," with Goss considered aloof and enmeshed in a murky bureaucratic death struggle with the undercover division. 

Bork Miers? An op-ed in the Journal offers yet more conservative unhappiness over Miers: "With a single stroke—the nomination of Harriet Miers—the president has damaged the prospects for reform of a left-leaning and imperialistic Supreme Court, taken the heart out of a rising generation of constitutional scholars, and widened the fissures within the conservative movement. That's not a bad day's work—for liberals." The author: Robert Bork.