The New York Times leads with, and the Los Angeles Times stuffs, well-supported evidence that Iran supplies Shiite militants with the "deadliest" IEDs now killing U.S. soldiers in Iraq. President Bush will accuse Iran publicly this weekend. The Washington Post leads with a fascinating/frightening story on some al-Qaeda militants that Iran has under house arrest. They're kept as bargaining chips, but Bush is about to label it cooperation between al-Qaeda and Iran. The LAT leads with news that the "surge" has been slow to arrive in Baghdad. So far, it's produced few results.
U.S. intelligence agencies are in "broad agreement" that Iran sends the "explosively formed penetrator" to Shiite—and only Shiite—militants in Iraq. They are also getting training from Iran's elite al-Quds Force and Hezbollah. The bomb makes quick work of armored vehicle panels, and Defense Secretary Robert Gates says it can take out an Abrams tank. U.S. troops responded by snapping up several members of al-Quds. President Bush will go live with the evidence.
The WP leads with a tale of two al-Qaeda militants that Tehran arrested en route to Iraq. Iran is holding them, along with a number of "high-value targets" that tried to escape from Afghanistan after 9/11, as leverage against Washington. The WP says the Bushies are debating whether or not to keep quiet, since Iran might release them if things go sour. But it sounds like Bush already decided to paint it as cooperation between al-Qaeda and Iran; part of an argument crafted to activate UN resolutions punishable by sanctions and the use of force. This weekend's speech will portray Iran as "a terror-producing country, instead of an oil-producing country," and it's paired with a sales effort to European diplomats. Um.
The LA Times says less than a fifth of the promised "surge" has arrived in Baghdad and "the situation is the same or worse." Iraqis are getting impatient. Defense Secretary Robert Gates is hurrying, but he's been busy talking to reporters about Iran.
Everyone fronts the selection of Dr. Drew Gilpin Faust as the first female president of Harvard. All the papers say her style will be more collegial, or "soothing"—a contrast to Larry Summers—but the NYT equivocates over whether her sex was central to the Selection Committee's choice. (Or was it her gender that mattered?) TP wonders if saying she's "soothing" is anything like calling her "clean" or "articulate."
The WP fronts, and the NYT stuffs, the follow-up on Thursday's report from the DoD Inspector General. The report says the "alternative intelligence" produced by Douglas Feith's Office of Special Plans (OSP) in the run-up to the invasion of Iraq "evolved from policy to intelligence products"—a process most would call exactly backwards. The WP just regurgitates the spin from each party, but the NYT says the Armed Services Committee may on call White House aides to testify, including Lewis Libby and Stephen Hadley. WP takes the opportunity to slip a correction into paragraph five.
The NYT goes inside with news that virtuoso U.S. envoy Christopher Hill is close to a deal on North Korea's nuclear program, swapping it for fuel and normalization talks. He sounds pretty confident, calling it "a Libya model," but he "wants to be careful about predicting success tomorrow." Just think: Bush's record on the Axis of Evil could be two down, one to go.
The WP stuffs, while the NYT fronts, a UN offensive against gangs in Haiti's capital. The NYT says President Rene Preval wanted the peacekeepers to nab a gang leader named "Evens." The WP says Preval merely agreed to the offensive. Both say that "Evens" had all of the cats in town murdered because he thinks that they're bad luck. LAT's coverage is scanty.
The NYT also leads with a hometown (if not local) story: Rudolph "W." Giuliani is finessing his stance on abortion, emphasizing his preference for "strict constructionist" judges as a coded signal to conservatives who dislike his pro-choice stance. Before folks at the National Review jump all over him for his lack of principle—oh wait they already did—TP reminds everyone that code words have a venerable history in the Republican Party.
The LAT, the NYT and the WP go inside with a clash at al-Aqsa mosque, where Israelis are trying to build a pedestrian ramp. Muslim clerics think the offending ramp "would undermine the mosque's foundations." Potent symbolism. I guess it can't be settled with a lawsuit.
The NYT fronts a fun piece on the changing nature of presidential candidacy declarations.
The WP goes inside with Richard Branson's offer of $25 million for anyone who can remove at least a billion tons of CO2 from the atmosphere. Well, don't just sit there! Get on it.
Finally, read the NYT's requiem for the Princeton ESP lab. The embattled lab produced reams of research showing how human thoughts can alter "about 2 or three flips out of 10,000" in their "gallery of random-motion machines, including a pendulum with a lighted crystal at the end; a giant, wall-mounted pachinko-like machine with a cascade of bouncing balls; and a variety of electronic boxes with digital number displays." They're still waiting for a peer review.