The New York Times leads with two new public calls for Rumsfeld's resignation by retired U.S. generals, bringing the total to six. Even more retired generals have anonymously expressed similar opinions in the last few days, according to the NYT. The Washington Postleads with reports of "vast sums of waste and misspent funds" in the $10 billion for housing aid allocated by the federal government after Hurricaine Katrina. The Los Angeles Timesfollows up again on its Afghanistan black-market disk-drive scoop, now reporting that the disks detail U.S. intelligence showing that insurgents use bases in Pakistan. USA Today leads with national poll results it describes as "a leave-us-alone mood," based on negative attitudes toward global engagement, immigration, and free trade. The Wall Street Journal's top box says Iran won't heed U.N. urgings not to push ahead with its nuclear program.
The newest general is Charles H. Swannack Jr., who led ground troops in Iraq until 2004. He is the second general who commanded troops in Iraq to "break ranks" with Rumsfeld, after John Batiste did so earlier this week. (Slate's Fred Kaplan reports that another public critic was in charge of training Iraqi troops.) No active-duty officers, however, have spoken publicly—and the NYT is frustratingly vague on whether current officers have explicitly expressed new criticisms to the paper, writing only that "some say privately they disagree." The WP reports inside that Bush believes Rumsfeld "is doing a very fine job," according to the president's press secretary, who also quoted the country's current top general in praise of Rumsfeld.
The papers front or reefer Moussaoui's latest testimony. His "only regret was that more Americans didn't die." The LATand NYTreport that the defense will call "shoe bomber" Richard Reid to testify to argue that Moussaoui did not have a key role in the 9/11 plot. Moussaoui says he did play a key role but believes that he will be pardoned by President Bush for use in a future prisoner exchange with anti-U.S. fighters in Iraq.
The NYT fronts off-lead a narrative highlighting the role of local law enforcement in tracking illegal immigrants, but the newsy stuff goes inside. The LAT details the spat between Bush and Nevada Democrat Harry Reid about who's to blame for the Senate compromise bill's demise. But if Bush really wants compromise, why lash out at Reid? Or is he just looking for a face-saving way out of his guest-worker plan in light of conservative criticism? Because the NYT's story suggests that Bush might be changing his tack, focusing more on enforcement than on creating guest workers, which would mirror the priorities of the more conservative House bill.
The LAT also reports that immigration supporters will stage a nationwide work and school walkout on May 1, but the WP says that some groups are not sold on the tactic, fearing job losses and association with anti-war groups. But the WSJ reports that some pro-immigration business groups, who might be hurt by a walkout, still agree that big demonstrations are a good idea.
The NYT goes inside with Iran news. Top international nuclear inspector Mohamed ElBaradei ended a one-day meeting with Iranian officials without securing Iran's agreement to halt production of enriched uranium. European inspectors will return next week to attempt to verify Iran's claim it is producing low-enriched uranium for power plants. The AP (via USA Today) says China will send a minister next week to convince Tehran to back off. The WSJ has a tidbit item that needs follow-up: Republicans worry that voters will turn against them if Bush uses force against Iran.
The WSJ's Greg Ip argues above the fold that the consensus expectation that the Fed will continue to raise rates is probably wrong, as Fed officials expect the economy to slow in the next quarter. The NYT fronts, above the fold, news that long-term rates have been pushed up to recent highs, suggesting that foreign purchases of U.S. debt are slowing and signaling tough times ahead for mortgage payers.
Campaigns 2006 and 2008 get some attention. On the front, the WP says the odds are against moderate GOPer Lincoln Chafee's re-election in liberal Rhode Island. The NYT goes inside with a story on a Republican effort to unseat 12-term Democratic Rep. John Spratt in the key primary state of South Carolina—heavy hitters like Bill Frist and possibly even President Bush will stump for the challenger. McCain is trying to repair broken relationships in Iowa, says the WP's Dan Balz, and the GOP is trying to clean up a PR mess in New Hampshire.
A reefer on the LAT points to news that the U.S. intelligence community is pleased with the progress of the new office of the director of national intelligence created last year. The WP's Walter Pincus asks around and finds sources inside the bureaucracy, beyond the appointed officials, who agree with that view.
The NYT reefers a strong story on the economic implications of Italy's contested election: The close and divisive race will likely halt any reform movement, pushing Italy closer to French-style stagnation and away from Germany's progress.
The WSJ has an interesting inside story reporting that some Jewish leaders are worried that the trial of two lobbyists for Israel on charges of violating the Espionage Act might encourage the view that Jews are to blame for U.S. troubles in the Middle East.
The NYT confirms yesterday's wire reports that the regime in Sudan is possibly behind violence in the capital city of neighboring Chad, where the U.S. Embassy has evacuated its personnel.
Steele's Damned? ... The WP's Richard Morin pens a column highlighting a new study suggesting that black GOP candidates cause white Republicans to switch over and vote for white Democratic candidates. He says that could hurt Michael Steele, a black Republican candidate for Senate in Maryland.