The Washington Post's top story of national significance is a NASA-supported study showing Greenland's glaciers melting at twice the rate previously believed, which suggests the world's oceans might rise a whole lot faster than currently projected. "We are witnessing enormous changes," said one NASA scientist, "and it will take some time before we understand how it happened." The Los Angeles Timesleads with the Republican-controlled Senate Intel Committee turnings its back on a proposed investigation of the warrantless snooping. The investigation once had bipartisan support. The move to kill it came after heavy lobbying by the White House and a vague promise to give Congress more oversight. The administration, in another sign of its munificence, also suggested it's willing to support Republican legislation that would exempt the snooping from the FISA law it's in apparent violation of. The New York Timesleads with the House Intel committee launching what seems to be a Kabuki-style "investigation" of the warrantless spying—though the Times' decides against portraying it as such. USA Today's lead looks at data showing states are using increased federal aid to beef up their own budgets. Aid sent to states has increased twice as fast in the past five years as it did during the Clinton administration.
The NYT declares, "ACCORD IN HOUSE TO HOLD INQUIRY ON SURVEILLANCE." That's probably news to the intel committee chair, Rep. Peter Hoekstra, who makes such decisions. "This is not an inquiry into the program," said Hoekstra's spokesman. Though a Republican maverick on the committee said she's hoping for a real probe, the spokesman explained there will be a "comprehensive review" not of the snooping but of the FISA law that the snooping sidestepped: Hoekstra "wants to set up a process to move forward and look at the entire statute and ways to modernize it." No other paper sniffs the glue too and gives significant space to the "inquiry," "review," whatever.
The NYT teases a report for the U.N. (yep, it was outsourced) concluding interrogation and detention practices used in Guantanamo Bay "amounted to torture." The report urges that Gitmo be shut down and the prisoners there be tried or freed. Slate's Dahlia Lithwick recently looked at the U.N. and other new reports detailing just how little evidence the U.S. has against most detainees and how flawed the tribunals there are. This TPer recently published a tragically comic transcript from one of those tribunals.
The Post fronts the uncovering last month in Iraq of a death squad staffed with Shiite police. It wasn't hard to figure out what the cops were up to. Stopped at an Iraqi army checkpoint, they said they were on their way to execute a prisoner. "We have found one of the death squads," a U.S. general told the Chicago Tribune. "They are a part of the police force of Iraq." (The incident was first reported in the NYT.) Another dozen men were found yesterday bound and executed.
The Post's David Ignatius has a fascinating column detailing a push by Sunnis, secular parties, and even Kurds for a broad-based Iraqi governing coalition. The U.S. supports the notion—in particular keeping Shiite parties from heading the powerful Interior Ministry—and is talking tough. "The security ministries have to be in the hands of people who have broad support, who are nonsectarian, without ties to militias," said the U.S.'s ambassador to Iraq. "We cannot invest huge amounts of money in forces that do not get broad support from Iraqis. They will make their choices. We will make our choices, based on their choices."
The papers all mention France, or at least its foreign minister, busting out and saying Iran is definitely going after nukes. "Today, it's simple," he said, "no civilian nuclear program can explain the Iranian nuclear program."
Everybody mentions the president's first words on VP Cheney's little mishap. "I thought his explanation yesterday was a powerful explanation," said Bush. "I'm satisfied with the explanation he gave," he added, twice.
Back to the melting plot… A top NASA scientist who specializes in global warming and who recently complained that the administration is trying to gag him has an op-ed in the British Independent arguing we're nearing a tipping point where global warming enters a feedback loop at which point it will speed up and be impossible to stop. Consider the Greenland glaciers:
How fast can [they] go? Right now, I think our best measure is what happened in the past. We know that, for instance, 14,000 years ago sea levels rose by 20m in 400 years - that is five metres in a century. This was towards the end of the last ice age, so there was more ice around. But, on the other hand, temperatures were not warming as fast as today.
How far can it go? The last time the world was three degrees warmer than today - which is what we expect later this century - sea levels were 25m higher.