U.S. attorneys scandal spills into courtrooms; Abbas sets up new government.

U.S. attorneys scandal spills into courtrooms; Abbas sets up new government.

U.S. attorneys scandal spills into courtrooms; Abbas sets up new government.

A summary of what's in the major U.S. newspapers.
June 18 2007 6:10 AM

Side Effects

The Los Angeles Times leads with a look at how the controversy over the fired U.S. attorneys has started to affect the Justice Department in federal courtrooms. In "a growing number of cases," defense attorneys are bringing up the firings to question whether their clients may have been targeted for political reasons. The Washington Post leads with, the Wall Street Journal tops its world-wide newsbox, and the LAT fronts news that Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas swore in an emergency government yesterday. Abbas also outlawed the armed Hamas militias and declared that the parliament, which is controlled by Hamas, is powerless.

The New York Times leads with a dispatch from Ethiopia's Ogaden region, where many say they have suffered systematic abuses, including rape and torture, at the hands of government troops that are currently embroiled in a longstanding separatist war against rebels in the area. Ethiopia's army gets lots of aid from the United States, particularly since the alliance between both countries grew stronger after they worked together to remove Islamic militants from power in Somalia. USA Today leads with word that the Homeland Security Department is trying to prevent Congress from passing a measure to delay a requirement that all U.S. citizens present a passport to re-enter the country by land or sea. Because of huge delays at passport offices, lawmakers don't want the new rules to apply to all travelers until at least mid-2009. Homeland Security officials say any delays put the country at risk.

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Although Justice Department officials insist there is no basis to claim that the U.S. attorneys scandal brings questions about other cases, it still shows how the firings have had unexpected, and potentially long-term, consequences for prosecutors across the country. "It provides defendants an opportunity to make an argument that would not have been made two years ago," a former U.S. attorney tells the LAT. As a result, U.S. attorney offices across the country are finding themselves in a position where they have to defend their integrity at a time when many have already been suffering from low morale because of the controversy.

Hamas leaders called the new government illegal and deposed Prime Minister Ismail Haniyeh said the unity government is still in charge. With the creation of the new government, it is expected that aid will begin pouring into the West Bank. The LAT emphasizes that Abbas and his new government have promised that they won't abandon Gaza, and emphasized that public employees  will still get paid. The Fatah government also pledged to work with international aid organizations and Israel to ensure that Gaza residents won't be left to languish without food or supplies. But signs that Gaza is being cut off were evident Sunday, as an Israeli company that supplies fuel stopped deliveries, saying that it was having trouble coordinating with Hamas officials.

Everyone notes that northern Israel was hit by two rockets fired from Lebanon  apparently by Palestinian militants. It was the first attack from Lebanon since August and could be seen as a reminder of how the area, which  Niall Ferguson calls "Hezbollahstan" in today's LAT, could play a role in the current crisis.

The WP goes inside with a dispatch from the Gaza-Egypt border, which remains closed. Along with Israel, Egypt is the country that is most likely to be affected by the humanitarian crisis in Gaza that everyone says is coming. "In two days time, if there is no food or medicine in Gaza, all the Palestinian people will head to the border with Egypt," a Palestinian Authority officer predicts.

As Ethiopia builds up its image as an emerging economic power in Africa, the government is trying to avoid any claims of human rights abuses from getting to the outside world, says the NYT. In fact, three of the paper's journalists were thrown in prison for five days. Meanwhile, some U.S. lawmakers are questioning whether the United States should stop giving aid to Ethiopia.

The WP continues its series about veterans' mental-health problems and fronts a look at the inadequate treatment that many Iraq and Afghanistan veterans with post-traumatic stress disorder receive at Walter Reed. Incredible as it may seem, the Army doesn't have a specific PTSD center at Walter Reed and, in fact, soldiers who suffer from it "are mixed in with psych patients who have issues ranging from schizophrenia to marital strife." The high number of cases means there's a shortage of resources, so individual therapy sessions are rare. And this is not a question of not knowing how to treat PTSD, because, as the paper notes, one of the best programs in the country is actually at Walter Reed, but it's not available to most patients because of a "bureaucratic divide." Instead of expanding the great PTSD program, it was moved into much a much smaller space after the Post articles that detailed the poor outpatient care at Walter Reed were published earlier this year.

The LAT fronts a picture of, and everyone else goes inside with, a bombing in Afghanistan that killed 35 people, mostly police recruits, in the deadliest attack since the Taliban was ousted in 2001. The Taliban claimed responsibility, and many see it as another sign of how militants in Afghanistan are adopting some of the same strategies as insurgents in Iraq.

A new television ad for Trojan condoms, where pigs in a bar turn into hunky men after they buy condoms, won't be shown on CBS and Fox, reports the NYT. Network reps aren't talking but at least part of the reason why the ads were rejected seems to be that networks prefer condom ads to emphasize the prevention of diseases rather than pregnancy. "We always find it funny that you can use sex to sell jewelry and cars, but you can't use sex to sell condoms," said an executive from the company that makes LifeStyles condoms.

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