The Washington Postleads with and is alone in fronting Iran announcing, as expected, that it's processing uranium again. "The Iranian Atomic Energy Organization has restarted the process," said an Iranian official. Tehran also said it would stop giving inspectors the extra, voluntary, access it had previously offered. The enrichment is small-scale stuff so far. To process enough uranium for, say, a bomb, would likely take years. Still, it's long been (or was) a red line. "Now they've done what everybody was afraid of," as one analyst put it. The New York Timesand Wall Street Journal's world-wide newsbox lead with, and Los Angeles Times' top nonlocal spot goes to, the lawyer whom Vice President Cheney shot landing back in the ICU when a birdshot lodged near his heart caused a mild "cardiac event." USA Todaygoes across the top with Cheney but on the right leads with a report from West Point, written by civilian scholars, arguing that the U.S. should launch a massive but covert campaign to use proxies to burnish the U.S.'s image in the Middle East. Presumably, it's the lead because the report has been "circulated widely among U.S. intelligence officials and officers on the Pentagon's Joint Staff."
Harry Whittington, Cheney's once-hunting buddy, was given cardiac catheterization and his doctors said he should recover. The pellet Cheney gifted him caused an irregular heartbeat, a small heart attack, or both. The confusion seems to be a result of Whittington's hospital fumbling its press conference.
The White House started the day by trying to yuk it up about the shooting. Whittington had his heart troubles in the morning. Cheney was quickly told. But "senior officials at the White House" whispered to the NYT that Cheney didn't pass the news along. Or as the Times puts it, "HANDLING OF ACCIDENT CREATES TENSION BETWEEN WHITE HOUSE STAFFS."
The NYT off-leads would-be suicide bombers in Afghanistan telling interrogators they're from Pakistan and asserting that's where most of the bombers are recruited from. The Times saw video of an interrogation. "Most of the attackers are non-Afghans," said an Afghan official. "We have proof, we have prisoners. We have addresses, we have cassettes." Afghanistan has long asserted that Pakistan has essentially harbored insurgents.
For whatever reason, the NYT decides to absolutely stuff U.S. commanders complaining that the overcrowded Abu Ghraib prison has become what one officer called a "Jihadist University" Another commander said, "Abu Ghraib is a graduate-level training ground for the insurgency." The story, which is datelined Washington, doesn't explain why the prison is so crowded. (This TPer has a few guesses.)
The WP fronts word that the U.S.'s terror watch-list database now includes the names of 325,000 people, far more than previously known and three times the list's size in 2003. An unnamed official insisted that the "the vast majority are non-U.S. persons and do not live in the U.S.," but he refused to give more details.
A piece inside the Post says the White House's lobbying against a proposed congressional investigation of the warrantless snooping appears to be paying off. The probe now looks like it's going to be voted down in committee. "It's been a full-court press," said a Senate Republican aide.
The NYT fronts what feels like a thin piece on the Lincoln Group, the Pentagon contractor that ginned up phony news stories in Iraq. The story details the mysterious rise of the amateur company and includes complaints from former staffers who said their young bosses overpromised on contracts and didn't know what they heck they were doing. Among the slight details left out: The company currently has a Pentagon contract, valued at up to $100 million, to help with "strategic communications" worldwide.
The NYT notes inside that New York State is filing suit against the EPA for refusing to give states data on the levels of some smog-causing compounds in paint and other products. The EPA has been siding with paint companies who argue that such data are propriety info.
The NYT goes Page One with a dozen Communist Party elder statesmen in China signing a letter of protest against the government's shutdown of a well-respected paper.
The Post off-leads with some Republicans groaning about Cheney's PR proclivities. There's not much there there. The biggest named sniper: Marlin Fitzwater. But it is heartwarning to hear "a longtime friend" explain that Cheney isn't evil, he just needs time on the couch:
"If I read Dick Cheney right, he's got to be just devastated" by the shooting incident, said Robert H. Michel, a former House Republican leader from Illinois and a longtime friend. But Michel said he is mystified that the vice president has not come out in public to express his feelings. ...
In general, Michel said, Cheney has "enclosed" his personal feelings so tightly to avoid showing them in public. "I guess that discipline upon himself is probably the thing that holds him back."