Show and Trial

Show and Trial

Show and Trial

A summary of what's in the major U.S. newspapers.
Dec. 7 2005 3:25 AM

Show and Trial

The Wall Street Journal's world-wide newsbox and New York Timeslead with a double suicide attack at Baghdad police academy that killed about 30 people. The Los Angeles Times leads with Saddam's trial, where one woman recalled her torture after having been tossed in Abu Ghraib at 16 years old. "They forced me to take off my clothes," she said. "They lifted my legs up and beat me with cables." The LAT notes that, for a second day, a prosecution witness seemed to be on shaky ground. Her testimony "veered seamlessly from her own experiences to stories apparently picked up from relatives or friends. Her account was long on dramatic flourishes and short on detail." The Washington Post's top nonlocal coverage also goes with Saddam's trial but focuses on the former dictator's habit of playing to the crowd. "America wants to execute Saddam Hussein," said Saddam Hussein. "It is not the first time." USA Todayleads with the Energy Department projecting that home heating bills will be up about 25 percent from last year.

The first police-academy bomber—who was inside the heavily guarded grounds—hit as police were gathering for roll call. The Post says cops then went running for the protection of blast walls, where another bomber was waiting and exploded.

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The NYT says the attacks "showed that the insurgents have infiltrated the deepest levels of the Iraqi forces." At the least, they got through a heckuva lot of security. "At each checkpoint, there is a thorough search," said one police trainer who was wounded. "Every man has to raise up his shirt to show there are no explosive belts, and it's the same for women."

In other Iraq news, Arab TV stations received footage of what appears to be another American hostage, a 40-year-old security contractor. Meanwhile, 11 Iraqi (Sunni?) men were found handcuffed and shot in the head west of Baghdad.

The WP and NYT front a federal jury acquitting a Florida professor of conspiring to aid Palestinian terror groups. The case was the first terrorism prosecution to rely on material based on loosened subpoena rules from the Patriot Act. The Post plays up the Patriot angle: "FLA. PROFESSOR IS ACQUITTED IN CASE SEEN AS PATRIOT ACT TEST." The paper says in the first paragraph that the decision deals the U.S. "a setback in its efforts to use secretly gathered intelligence" for terrorism cases. Except maybe not so much. According to one juror, the verdicts were based on the facts in the case itself. "I didn't see the evidence," he said. How exactly is that a comment one way or the other on the Patriot Act? (Of course, it may end up being a "setback" to the law if the coverage consistently portrays the verdict as such.)

A day after seriously subpar coverage of Secretary of State Rice's (disingenuous) defense of the U.S.'s treatment of al-Qaida suspects—coverage bemoaned in yesterday's TP—the NYT comes back with strong second-day play. Right up at the top, the Times notes that Rice was"pelted with questions about covert prisons and a mistaken, secret arrest. ... she declined to answer most of them." More important, the NYT reverses its credulous reading of Rice's insistence that the U.S. does "not condone torture" and that the U.S. is following American law to a T. As today's Times notes:

The American definition of torture is in some cases at variance with international conventions, and the administration has maintained in recent years that American law does not apply to prisoners held abroad.

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The NYT fronts the Supreme Court's skeptical hearing yesterday of a challenge to a law that withholds federal money from universities that don't allow military recruiters in. Many law schools have kept recruiters out, arguing they don't want to be complicit in the military's anti-gay policies. The Supremes were not sympathetic. "It seems to me quite a simple matter for the law schools to have a disclaimer on all of their e-mails and advertisements that say the law school does not approve, and in fact, disapproves of the policies of some of the employers who you will meet," said Justice Kennedy. "That's the end of it."

Knocking Heds …
The NYT: "AMID PARTY STRUGGLES, HOUSE REPUBLICANS SAY THEY WON'T MOVE TO FILL DELAY POST"

The WP: "LIKELIHOOD OF BATTLE INCREASING OVER DELAY'S FUTURE AS LEADER"

Customer-service segment! TP occasionally uses newspaper jargon—"reefering," for example, is not a synonym for "hotboxing." Here's a Slate glossary of TP terms. It is a bit Clinton-era. So, we're about to update it. If there is any other TP jargon that leaves you wondering, let us know