Senior Al Qaeda officials are regaining power; Bomb blasts end Baghdad calm.

Senior Al Qaeda officials are regaining power; Bomb blasts end Baghdad calm.

Senior Al Qaeda officials are regaining power; Bomb blasts end Baghdad calm.

A summary of what's in the major U.S. newspapers.
Feb. 19 2007 5:34 AM

Power-Up

The New York Timesleads with American intelligence and counterterrorism officials saying that top al-Qieda officials are regaining power and opening up a new crop of training camps in Pakistan. Although American officials used to describe Osama Bin Laden and his deputy, Ayman al-Zawahiri as on the run and isolated, new evidence seems to suggest they are a key part of al-Qaida's resurgence. The Washington Postand Los Angeles Timeslead with yesterday's bombings in a predominantly Shiite market in Baghdad, which killed at least 60 people. The bombings brought an end to the relative calm that predominated in the city ever since the beginning of the new security crackdown.

USA Todayleads with a look at how Democrats in Congress are promoting legislation to increase security in the country's subways and other mass-transit systems. After focusing on the safety of planes, many say it's about time the government focus on another form of transportation that has been the target of numerous terrorist attacks around the world. According to Senate figures, since Sept. 11, 2001, the government has spent $24 billion in aviation security and less than $500 million into transit security.

Advertisement

Although officials emphasize the current training camps are not as elaborate as the ones that were in Afghanistan during Taliban rule, they are moving in that direction. A big reason why they are able to do this is because North Waziristan has become a sort of haven for militants ever since Pakistani troops pulled back after an agreement between the government and tribal leaders that most now describe as a failure. The risk of a fortified al-Qaida has become the subject of intense talks within the Bush administration, but there is still no consensus on what to do about it. One of the main questions is how to deal with the issue without seeming to undermine Pakistan's president.

Yesterday's bombings in Baghdad came only two days after Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki called the security crackdown a "dazzling success." The NYT also notes the bombs went off only minutes after U.S. troops passed through the area, which serves to illustrate "the difficult nature of trying to quell violence on Baghdad's streets." Despite the bombing, there is some good news to report, and the LAT goes high with word that Shiite militia activity appears to be down, and there has been a significant decrease in the number of bodies found in the streets each day.

Military officials announced two American soldiers were killed  Saturday.

Nobody fronts news of a helicopter crash in Afghanistan that killed eight servicemembers and injured 14. Before the crash, the helicopter's pilot reported engine failure. The Taliban said guerrillas were responsible, but U.S. officials claim there is no evidence that insurgent fire brought down the aircraft.

Advertisement

The papers catch word of explosions on a train in northern India that killed at least 66 people. The train was headed to Pakistan, and officials said the attack was an attempt to derail peace talks.

The NYT goes inside with claims by Iranian officials that those responsible for killing 11 members of the Revolutionary guard last week used Pakistan as a base to plan the bombings. The Iranian Foreign Ministry announced it called in the Pakistani ambassador to discuss the issue. The LAT emphasizes claims that bullet cartridges found at the scene of the attack had a "U.S. insignia and English lettering." The government did not give access to the weapons and analysts are skeptical. A local news agency said the explosives used in the attack were American. Both papers point out that the Iranian government is concerned the U.S. is helping opposition groups in order to create instability.

The NYT takes a look at the weekend's presidential campaigning in Iowa and says this year's candidates are living through "the demise of the living room campaign." Iowa was always known as a state where candidates met with small groups of voters, but now campaign events are drawing hundreds of people. Some are lamenting the change, but the NYT's Adam Nagourney says it "may not be an entirely bad thing" because the events seem to be drawing people who aren't regularly involved in politics.

USAT also goes inside with Iowa but focuses on how increasing rents in downtown Des Moines have forced some of the campaigns to set up shop in the suburbs. This is a change from when all the campaign offices were within walking distance and everyone mostly hung out in the same places.

The LAT fronts word that some in Chicago are not too happy about the way Sen. Barack Obama takes most of the credit for the way a community fought against an asbestos problem. In his memoir, Dreams From My Father …, Obama says he led the effort to bring the problem to light and pressured officials for change. But others claim he was hardly the main figure in the fight and say Obama failed to credit the appropriate people.

The papers go inside with Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice's continuing efforts to hold three-way talks with the Israeli and Palestinian governments. Rice still wants the meetings to take place, but there are questions on how to deal with the proposed new Palestinian unity government that includes Hamas and doesn't explicitly recognize Israel. The Post notes Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert and Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas "are politically weakened, making it difficult for either side to make tough compromises."

As news junkies wait for the Libby trial to go to the jury this week, the Post goes inside with a look at how experts view lying. Some psychologists believe lying is so common that putting people on trial for doing it, "is somewhat like putting them on trial for breathing," says the paper. Experiments have found that an average person tells about two lies every 10 minutes. Also, those who lie frequently have the best intentions and think they are benefiting others.

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