Military planners look to El Salvador for Iraq fallback strategy.

Military planners look to El Salvador for Iraq fallback strategy.

Military planners look to El Salvador for Iraq fallback strategy.

A summary of what's in the major U.S. newspapers.
March 12 2007 5:49 AM

Not Dressing the Part

The Los Angeles Times leads with word that military planners are working on designing a new strategy for Iraq, in case the increased military presence fails to achieve its goals or Congress intervenes. The plan would be based in part on the U.S. experience in El Salvador in the 1980s and involves a decrease in troops and an increase in training efforts. The New York Times leads with a look at how several states have seen a decline in their Medicaid enrollment  for the first time in years. Officials agree it's the result of a 2006 federal law that requires beneficiaries to prove they are U.S. citizens in order to prevent illegal immigrants from receiving Medicaid. But, according to state officials, the new requirements are overwhelmingly hurting poor U.S. citizens who aren't able to provide the proper documents.

The Washington Post leads with a look at how potential terrorists in Europe are becoming increasingly harder to profile and identify. Authorities are seeing more people from different backgrounds or characteristics that don't follow the patterns that were once the norm for terrorists. Some European intelligence officials say that terrorist organizations are purposefully recruiting these types of people so they won't be the targets of unwanted attention. The Army is facing a severe shortage of officers, USA Todayreports in its lead story. The Army expects it will have an annual shortage of 3,000 midlevel officers through 2013. In addition, the Army is also facing an "impending shortage" of entry-level officers. The Wall Street Journal plays catch-up and tops its world-wide newsbox with a roundup of the weekend's Iraq-related news.

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The LAT says the planning for the new "fallback strategy" is only beginning and could change depending on what happens on the ground. The U.S. military efforts in El Salvador are still controversial but some argue that a small number of advisers can be more successful than big military operations such as in Vietnam or Iraq. The paper waits until nearly the end of the piece to quote some people who think military planners should not be using El Salvador as a model for Iraq because the two situations have little in common. The LAT also spends some time discussing how this new planning is occurring in a divided Pentagon where tensions are rising. While a group supports Gen. David Petraeus and his strategy to concentrate on protecting neighborhoods, others believe the U.S. military should switch immediately to an advisers-only role, a strategy some believe is a recipe for failure.

The NYT is alone in fronting news that insurgents burned homes in a city northeast of Baghdad, which the paper says could signal the emergence a new "intimidation tactic in Iraq's evolving civil war." There are different accounts of exactly how many houses were affected, but an official said at least 30 were completely burned. The NYT emphasizes that this happened in a mixed neighborhood (the Post says it is predominantly Shiite) and that both Sunni and Shiite houses were burned. The Post reports that even though the armed men who set the fires entered the neighborhood Satuday night, Iraqi security forces did not arrive on the scene until after dawn  Sunday.

Everybody mentions a suicide bomber killed returning Shiite pilgrims yesterday and, according to the LAT's count at least 31 people were killed. Also yesterday, the U.S. military announced the death of three more U.S. soldiers.

Over the weekend, McClatchy reported on how New Mexico's Republican Party chairman had complained to Karl Rove about fired U.S. Attorney David Iglesias. When the chairman asked if anything was going to happen to Iglesias, Rove reportedly said "He's gone." Yesterday, the White House said Rove does not recall making the statement but confirmed that he did relay the complaints to the Justice Department, and he may have mentioned it to Attorney General Alberto Gonzales as well. But a White House spokeswoman insisted Rove did not ask for anyone to be fired. House Democrats said they intend to question Rove about his role in the firings. None of the papers give the alleged Rove connection much play.

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The papers mention that Democratic Sen. Charles E. Schumer of New York yesterday said Attorney General Alberto Gonzales should resign. Mentioning many of the same points as yesterday's NYT editorial, Schumer said Gonzales "either doesn't accept or doesn't understand that he is no longer just the president's lawyer but has a higher obligation to the rule of law and the Constitution."

In all the talk in recent weeks about medical care for injured veterans, the emerging conventional wisdom has been that despite all the shortcomings, those with the most severe injuries receive great care. Today, A Page One story in the NYT reveals that may not always be the case. The paper talked to several families of veterans who suffered severe brain injuries who say the military health-care system either abandoned hope for their loved ones too early or failed to provide options that could improve the situation. In one case, the Army basically told a veteran that he would be confined to a wheelchair for the rest of his life, but three months after going elsewhere for rehabilitation, he is walking again.

The Post reports that poor medical care for returning veterans is also a problem for British troops, according to some families. The British government played down these claims, which were first reported by the Observeryesterday.

Maybe Wilson should have gone to Florida … The LAT mentions that a pawn-shop owner in Florida got quite a surprise when he opened a box of rocks from an estate sale and saw one labeled uranium. Emergency workers confirmed the container had about an ounce of yellowcake uranium. No one was in any danger, and a spokeswoman for the Florida Department of Law Enforcement said they receive reports of small amounts of yellowcake "on a regular basis."