Hayden cruises through his hearings.

A summary of what's in the major U.S. newspapers.
May 19 2006 3:19 AM

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Everybody leads with CIA chief nominee Gen. Michael Hayden's confirmation hearings, during which he said ... little you haven't heard before.Facing what the Wall Street Journal calls "cordial questioning," Hayden defended the warrantless snooping program as well as the CIA. He also promised to be independent-minded (a trait he's known for) and to keep his distance from the Pentagon. He's a lock. Or as the New York Timesputs it, "Democrats as well as Republicans praised his experience and said he was a good choice."

Hayden did take a few swipes during his testimony. "You get a lot more authority when the workforce doesn't think it's amateur hour on the top floor," he said in not-so-veiled reference to since-disappeared CIA chief Porter Goss.

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Hayden saved his biggest smackdown for one-time top Pentagon official Douglas Feith, whose office cherry-picked raw intel and insisted on a "strong connection" between Saddam and al-Qaida. "I've got three great kids," said Hayden. "But if you tell me, 'Go out and find all the bad things they've done, Hayden,' I could build you a pretty good dossier and you'd think they were pretty bad people. That'd be very wrong, OK?" (Feith was once given a memorable if less-than-affectionate nickname of sorts by top Gen. Tommy Franks.)

The Washington Postand, as it happens, a NYT editorial both notice that Hayden—as the Post puts it—suggested the NSA's domestic snooping "may go beyond what is publicly known."

Slate's Emily Bazelon says Hayden made clear he is "a fan of review, as long as it stays in-house."

The Los Angeles Timesand WPfront the Senate voting to make English the "national language." The amendment to the immigration bill is mostly symbolic, since it doesn't overturn current laws or regulations. It has had one effect already: It's ticking off immigrant-rights groups, who are increasingly unhappy with the amendments being added to the immigration bill. "This is devastating," said one Latino activist. "For us, this is a tough issue to bring back to the community."

Only the WP fronts one of the most violent days in Afghanistan since the Taliban fell. There were big attacks in four provinces. The Associated Press says that in one case, "300 to 400 militants" led an assault. An American police trainer was killed by a car bomb, and a female Canadian soldier and 12 Afghan soldiers were killed in another attack. Overall, 100 Afghans were reported killed, though most of those seem to have been Taliban, killed by an airstrike.

Four GIs were killed by a roadside bomb outside Baghdad. About 20 Iraqis were killed in assorted other attacks. The Post also flags a "growing, lethal power struggle" between Shiite groups. In Najaf, the head of Moqtada al-Sadr's militia "was shot dead by police allied with a rival Shiite party."

The NYT has a front-page feature on the increasing flow of middle-class Iraqis emigrating. It's a hard trend to quantify—1.85 million Iraqis have requested new passports in the last 10 months, whatever that means exactly. But the sentiment is clear. "Now I am isolated," said one middle-class Sunni. "I have no government. I have no protection from the government. Anyone can come to my house, take me, kill me and throw me in the trash."

The Times piece also has this remarkable (if accurate) stat, cited to a deputy mayor: "312 trash workers have been killed in Baghdad in the past six months."