The New York Times leads with and the Washington Post fronts the unraveling story of when House GOP leaders knew about creepy (but not sexually explicit) e-mails from Rep. Mark Foley to a former House page. The reports reveal a whole lot dissembling (or forgetfulness) on the part of Speaker Dennis Hastert, who continues to claim he was made aware of the exchanges only last week. The Los Angeles Times leads with the effort by Christian pastors to get their flocks to the voting booth on election day. "Their efforts at times push legal limits on church involvement in partisan campaigns," says the LAT. The WP goes across the top with an already-tired excerpt from Bob Woodward's new book, State of Denial.
At least two GOP leaders were made aware of the Foley imbroglio in late 2005. One of them, Rep. John Boehner, told the WP yesterday that he promptly informed Dennis Hastert of the situation. A few hours later Boehner called the paper back to say "he could not be sure" of what he just said. Hastert, meanwhile, was busy releasing a statement saying that, while his staff was made aware of the e-mails last year, he was never told of them. But Rep. Thomas Reynolds, the other GOP leader informed of the Foley situation in 2005, says he personally spoke to Hastert about it last year. Hastert's response: Maybe Reynolds is right, but I don't remember.
Reynolds, chairman of the House GOP election committee, was the first leader contacted by Rep. Rodney Alexander, the page's sponsor, about the e-mails. Yet none of the papers ask Alexander why he chose Reynolds. Nevertheless, Rep. Rahm Emanuel has an answer: "That's to protect a member, not to protect a child."
Rest assured House leaders have a solution for this not-so-new problem in the page program: a toll-free telephone number for pages to confidentially report incidents of concern. Of course if the incident involves creepy e-mails from a congressman, you might have wait on the line a while for a response.
There's nothing you haven't read about before in the Post's excerpt from Bob Woodward's book. All the juicy bits were eaten up by the NYT and WP on Friday and Saturday. But, if you believe Woodward's sensational quotes, not only is the administration misleading the public on Iraq, it also lacks a strategy to win there. Stephen Hadley, while still Condoleezza Rice's deputy at the NSC, wondered what's worse, that the military has a plan "and won't tell us or that they don't have one." If the answer is the latter, then here's worse: Asked what the strategy is, Gen. John Abizaid, the Centcom commander, said, "That's not my job."
Of course, Bush has often said that the strategy in Iraq is to stand down as Iraqi forces step up. But a separate report by the WP notes that while American training programs have churned out more than 300,000 Iraqi troops and policemen, the violence has not decreased. Baghdad did enjoy a relatively peaceful Saturday though—naturally it helps when pedestrians are banned from leaving their houses. Three car bombs exploded elsewhere in the country, killing two people. In Afghanistan a suicide bomber killed 12 outside the interior ministry in Kabul.
In other international news, Brazil will hold the first round of its presidential election today. Left-wing incumbent Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva is expected to win despite a slew of scandals involving his party. Israel has completed its withdrawal from southern Lebanon. And Thailand's military rulers announced the formation of a caretaker government, with Surayud Chulanont, a retired general, as prime minister.
The NYT fronts a memo, written by two senior officials in June 2005, urging the Bush administration to adhere to the Geneva Conventions, try the suspects in the 9/11 attacks, and, eventually, close the detention center at Guantanamo Bay. The NYT says the memo was well-received by Condoleezza Rice, but Donald Rumsfeld was so disturbed by the document, co-written by his deputy, that he had copies of it shredded.
In a nifty little investigation, the NYT details how political donations are corrupting the Ohio Supreme Court. The Times found that Ohio's top judges "routinely sat on cases after receiving campaign contributions from the parties involved or from groups that filed supporting briefs. On average, they voted in favor of contributors 70 percent of the time."
The LAT reports that a former teammate of Roger Clemens told investigators that the star pitcher used performance-enhancing drugs. Retired journeyman Jason Grimsley was questioned by federal agents after they tracked an illegal shipment of human growth hormone to his house. Grimsley also fingered pitcher Andy Pettitte and former American League MVP Miguel Tejada.
Habeas Whatus? … From the NYT report on the detainee memo: "The element of the new [detainee] legislation that raised the sharpest criticism among legal scholars and human rights advocates last week was the scaling back of the habeas corpus right of terrorism suspects to challenge their detention in the federal courts. But in dozens of high-level meetings on detention policy, officials said, that provision was scarcely even discussed."