Military officers want more civilian involvement in Iraq.

Military officers want more civilian involvement in Iraq.

Military officers want more civilian involvement in Iraq.

A summary of what's in the major U.S. newspapers.
Feb. 7 2007 5:10 AM

Main Man

The New York Timesleads with word that senior military officers have warned any new strategy for Iraq runs a high risk of failure if there isn't more involvement from civilian agencies. These military officers, including members of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, contend that no amount of military intervention will help Iraq if it doesn't include a concerted effort to speed up the country's reconstruction and political development. The Washington Postleads with a look at how Gen. David H. Petraeus has become the public face of the administration's effort to convince lawmakers and the public to give "surge" a chance. The Wall Street Journal tops its world-wide newsbox with Democratic leaders in the House of Representatives announcing they will hold a vote  next week  on a resolution opposing the administration's new plans for Iraq. Meanwhile, House members began "what promises to be a long, embarrassing inquest" into mismanagement of rebuilding funds in Iraq.

The Los Angeles Timesleads with a look at the "unusually open campaign" being waged by Israel to get the international community to stop Iran from developing nuclear weapons. USA Todayleads with at least six states (Texas, Virginia, Tennessee, Missouri, Georgia, and Utah) that are considering expanding the use of the death penalty. Some, for example, want child molesters to be eligible for the death penalty, while others want to lower the bar of when certain offences become eligible for the death penalty.

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There have been long-running tensions between the State Department and the Pentagon, and these have only increased with a feeling that the military will bear most of the blame if Bush's new plan for Iraq fails. Gates told senators yesterday he agreed with the concerns expressed by the officers and emphasized that Bush told his Cabinet on Monday that civilian agencies must "step up to the task." Part of the problem is that although the State Department has been ordered to speed up reconstruction efforts, it can't exactly force diplomats to accept taking a job in Iraq. At the end of the article, the Times mentions a recent classified study that found violence in Baghdad falls when quality of life improves.

Before leaving for Baghdad, Petraeus parked himself in Minority Leader Mitch McConnell's office and pitched the administration's plans to any lawmakers who would listen. "The Petraeus card is about the only one left to play for a White House confronting low poll numbers, an unpopular war and an opposition Congress," says the Post. Although the White House insists it did not plan the post-confirmation visits to Capitol Hill, Bush has tried to persuade lawmakers it doesn't make sense to speak up against his new plan for Iraq and confirm Petraeus.

Israeli politicians and military leaders have said there could be a "second Holocaust" if the world does nothing to prevent a country that has declared war against the Jews from developing nuclear weapons. Some leaders, including Prime Minister Ehud Olmert, have also hinted publicly that Israel would be willing to use force if the international community is unwilling (or unable) to prevent a nuclear Iran.

But there appear to be some hints the current sanctions might be working to weaken Iran, at least economically. USAT says inside that figures have begun to show the "deepening economic isolation" of Iran as it faces increased inflation and unemployment. 

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All the papers mention Iran accusing U.S. forces of being behind the abduction of an Iranian diplomat in Baghdad. Iranian officials said gunmen wearing Iraqi military uniforms kidnapped their embassy's second secretary on Sunday (the NYT had the story of the abduction yesterday). U.S. officials deny they were involved.

In other Iraq news, Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki said delays in implementing the new security plan  are hurting his credibility with the Iraqi people. "This delay is giving a negative impression and has led some people to say that we have already failed," Maliki said.

The LAT fronts a different angle from the Gates Senate hearing, where the defense secretary said the Pentagon is working on an alternative plan if the troop increase fails to provide adequate results. Gates did not go into detail, but he emphasized that Bush's plan "is not the last chance" to save Iraq. 

Everybody goes inside with a cockpit video leaked to a British newspaper that shows two American pilots in Iraq reacting to the news they had just shot at British troops and killed one of them. Moments after they fired, the pilots got the news and immediately started cursing and weeping. "I'm going to be sick," said one of the pilots. "We're in jail, dude." The Pentagon, reversing a previous decision, announced it would allow the video to be shown in a British court.

All the papers mention that Deputy Attorney General Paul McNulty testified before the Senate Judiciary Committee yesterday and defended the recent firings of several U.S. attorneys, saying they were not politically motivated. McNulty said most were asked to leave because of poor performance, but he recognized that a U.S. attorney in Arkansas was urged to leave without cause and the job was given to a former aide to presidential adviser Karl Rove.

Everyone fronts stories about Navy Capt. Lisa Marie Nowak, who has quickly become one of the most famous NASA astronauts in recent memory. The LAT managed to catch the basics of the story yesterday, but it gets stranger with every new detail that emerges. Nowak was charged with the attempted murder of a woman she saw as her rival for the affections of another astronaut.

The WSJ, USAT, and LAT front Apple Chief Executive Steve Jobs calling on record companies to do away with restrictions currently present in legally downloaded music. In an essay posted online, Jobs argues that the restrictions haven't actually prevented people from illegally obtaining music and all they do is inconvenience customers who choose to get their music legally.

Daniel Politi has been contributing to Slate since 2004 and wrote the Today’s Papers column from 2006 to 2009. Follow him on Twitter.