Where does the buck stop with Walter Reed?

A summary of what's in the major U.S. newspapers.
March 3 2007 6:43 AM

Harvey Danger

The Washington Post, the New York Times and the Los Angeles Times all lead (and the Wall Street Journal tops its world-wide newsbox) with Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates' ousting of Army Secretary Francis J. Harvey, the second high-profile firing to result from the outrage over outpatient conditions at Walter Reed Army Medical Center.

Harvey drew fire by temporarily appointing Lt. Gen. Kevin Kiley to replace Maj. Gen. George W. Weightman as head of the center. Kiley, who had downplayed the severity of conditions at Walter Reed, served as the facility's commander from 2002 until 2004, and some of the center's problems may have begun under his watch. In the wake of Harvey's resignation, Kiley will be replaced by Maj. Gen. Eric B. Schoomaker. The WP paints Harvey as both "apologetic and defensive," admitting problems at the facility while still maintaining that the WP's coverage was one-sided. The NYT notes that President Bush is appointing a bipartisan commission to look at the medical care service members receive. The LAT couches the story in the political stakes the Walter Reed story raised: for the White House, potential embarrassment and the loss of veteran support; for Democrats in Congress, an opportunity to stand up to the administration and assert its oversight role.

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Under the fold, the WP reports the White House is now admitting it approved the firing of seven U.S. attorneys because they were not adequately pursuing the administration's agenda on immigration and guns, among other issues. Previously the administration had chalked the firings up to "performance-related problems." Though the paper doesn't mention it in this article, the firing of U.S. attorneys goes to the heart of an ongoing debate on Capitol Hill over a provision in the reauthorization of the Patriot Act that allows the attorney general to circumvent Senate approval of the attorneys' replacements. Democrats look to introduce a bill that would once again limit these temporary appointments to 120 days without congressional confirmation. Several of the sacked attorneys have been subpoenaed to testify before congressional committees next week. More background can be found in this WP editorial, which calls the firings neither as sinister nor as benign as they seem.

The NYT off-leads with a look at a leaked early version of an oft-delayed White House report finding that greenhouse gas emissions are on track to rise nearly as quickly between 2002 and 2012 as they did between 1992 and 2002, at 11 percent and 11.6 percent respectively. The Bush administration says rising emissions are unavoidable in a growing economy, and that President Bush has stood by a 2002 pledge to keep emissions growth under the rate of economic growth. Administration critics accuse the White House of maintaining the status quo and calling it a victory. The report also calls attention to ways global warming is impacting America, most notably by increasing droughts.

The LAT polls political insiders from both sides of the aisle on the presidential contenders of their respective parties, with Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton and former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney leading the packs. The paper's logic is that these party insiders represent the early adopters of political thought and that their opinions indicate how Americans will feel down the road. Not surprisingly, the parties expect different issues to take center stage in each primary. The Democrats expect health care to dominate the discussion, while Republicans expect to be talking about the war and national security.

Inside, the WP reports on the grim mood that pervaded the annual Conservative Political Action Conference, as activists say they're surveying the Republican primary field and can't identify a solidly conservative candidate to help them hold the White House in 2008.

The LAT reports that a Pakistani immigrant wanted by the FBI for money laundering funneled $50,000 in illegal donations in the political action committee of Sen. Clinton and the re-election campaign of Sen. Barbara Boxer, D-Calif. The paper says there's no evidence either senator knew about the donations and spokesmen for each said they will not keep the money. Abdul Rehman Jinnah, once a spokesman for Pakistani issues, was laundering money to circumvent donation limits.

The Cherokee Nation is voting on whether on not to amend its constitution to bar from its ranks the descendants of black slaves once owned by Cherokees. These "freedmen" were granted tribal membership by treaty in 1866, according to the WP.

The NYT writes that the White House will announce an ethanol production deal with Brazil next week.

The WP fronts a feature on boy prisoners in Haiti, whose plight is symptomatic of the woes of an entire nation.

The NYT fronts a look at a school struck by Thursday's deadly Alabama tornado, which killed eight of the school's students.

Inside, the WSJ covers the spiraling cost of raising a child to maturity: For some families it can top a cool million dollars.

The LAT fronts a piece on the paradox of drilling for oil in Sudan's Darfur region. In summation: It's a bad thing right now because the possibility of oil is spurring fighting, but it could be a good thing in the long run if it helps build up the country's comparably poor northern region.

Oh, and in case you hadn't heard, the NYT reports (via the AP) that Switzerland invaded Lichtenstein.

And You Thought J-Date Was Intense… The LAT says house-bound Iraqis have turned to the Internet to help them meet members of the opposite sex, now that Baghdad is too dangerous for mingling. While the net provides a social outlet for those who live in dangerous parts of the city, it seems that few of these budding romances are able to get past the hurdle of never being able to meet because of the dangers of traversing Baghdad.

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