The New York Timesleads, and almost everyone else fronts, yesterday's testimony by Monica Goodling, a former senior aide to Attorney General Alberto Gonzales. In a daylong hearing, Goodling, who was granted immunity from prosecution, admitted that she had "crossed the line" in taking political views into account when considering applicants for nonpolitical Justice Department jobs, which could be a violation of federal laws. She also hinted that previous testimony by Gonzales and Deputy Attorney General Paul McNulty may not have been fully accurate. The Washington Postand Los Angeles Timeslead with a report issued by the International Atomic Energy Agency that says Iran has increased its uranium enrichment capabilities and decreased cooperation with inspectors. The report brought a strong reaction from the Bush administration, which called for increased sanctions just as nine warships were preparing to begin previously unannounced exercises in international waters close to the Iranian shore.
The Wall Street Journal tops its world-wide newsbox, and the LAT fronts, late-breaking confirmation that the body of one of three soldiers captured on May 12 was found Wednesday in the Euphrates River. USA Todayleads with Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff criticizing those who are working to defeat the new immigration reform bill. In an interview with the paper's editorial board, Chertoff said that Republicans who oppose the bill are actually favoring a "silent amnesty" because all the current illegal immigrants will never be deported, even with stepped-up enforcement. Although he agrees with critics that there's "a fundamental unfairness" in allowing people who broke the law to stay in the country, he says that "we are bowing to reality."
Goodling revealed that right as the controversy over the fired U.S. attorneys was heating up, Gonzales tried to compare notes on how the whole process went down. She said the conversation made her "a little uncomfortable" but assured lawmakers that she didn't think Gonzales was trying to mold her memory. In previous testimony, Gonzales had said he didn't discuss the firings with senior Justice Department officials "to protect the integrity of this investigation." Goodling was harsher on McNulty and accused him of giving "incomplete or inaccurate" testimony to Congress and said he "was not fully candid about his knowledge of White House involvement" in the decisions to fire U.S. attorneys. Obviously, both McNulty and Gonzales deny any wrongdoing.
All this was revealing stuff, and the part where Goodling pretty much admitted to breaking the law seems to give more evidence that the Justice Department had become extremely politicized. But, regarding the fired U.S. attorneys, Goodling said she wasn't really involved in the process and despite the fact that she was the department's White House liaison, she says she didn't discuss the dismissals with White House officials. So, as the LAT notes up high, lawmakers still don't have answers to "the core question" of whether administration officials were drawing up lists and firing U.S. attorneys based on how loyal they were to the White House and its principles.
The NYT published the gist of the IAEA's findings last week, and at that time the agency's director suggested that Iran's increased capabilities mean the United States and Europe should change their strategy and accept limited uranium enrichment in exchange for further access and cooperation with inspectors. The Bush administration strongly rejected that view on Wednesday and emphasized that it will continue working to isolate Iran and try to increase the pressure on Tehran to drop all uranium enrichment. In a change from his predecessor, it seems French President Nicolas Sarkozy would be willing to stand behind the White House, as he said that "one should not hesitate to toughen the sanctions."
Yesterday, the military announced that nine service members were killed Monday and Tuesday in Iraq. The WP fronts a look at morgue data that it got from an Iraqi Health Ministry official, and says that sectarian violence is, once again, on the rise in Baghdad, although it doesn't appear to have reached the highest levels of last year. The morgue received 321 "unidentified corpses" from the beginning of May until Tuesday, which is the same number as in all of January. An Iraqi commander said they are aware of this trend.
The LAT and WP go inside with word that the Office of Special Counsel has determined that the chief of the General Services Administration, Lurita Alexis Doan, violated the Hatch Act when she tried to use the agency to help Republican politicians win an election. The investigation on Doan began after allegations surfaced of a meeting with an aide to Karl Rove, where GSA employees were presented with polling data and political strategy for 2008 elections. At one point in the meeting Doan allegedly asked about what they could do to "help our candidates." The LAT has previously reported that these types of presentations were made in "nearly every other Cabinet agency," so more of these types of investigations could be on the horizon.
The WSJ goes inside with a preliminary look at the men the White House is currently considering to replace Paul Wolfowitz as head of the World Bank. Currently at the top of the list seems to be former U.S. Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist, a doctor who made fighting infectious diseases across the world one of his priorities while in Congress. Also under strong consideration are Treasury Deputy Secretary Robert Kimmit and former U.S. Trade Representative Robert Zoellick.
The LAT and WP mention that Vice President Dick Cheney has a new grandson. Samuel David Cheney is the first child for Mary and her longtime partner, Heather Poe.