The new U.S. embassy in Iraq is plagued with construction problems.

The new U.S. embassy in Iraq is plagued with construction problems.

The new U.S. embassy in Iraq is plagued with construction problems.

A summary of what's in the major U.S. newspapers.
July 5 2007 5:58 AM

Diplomatic Complaints

The Washington Postleads with word that U.S. diplomats in Iraq are increasingly concerned about missed deadlines and construction mistakes in the new $592 million embassy. The New York Timesleads with a look at how there has been a sharp increase in the number of legal immigrants who are seeking to become citizens. Much of the increase has to do with an announcement made earlier this year that application fees for citizenship will increase, but it's a reflection of new campaigns by Spanish-language media. Many also want to "seek the security of citizenship" as well as the voice to become politically active after they felt threatened by the heated rhetoric in the immigration bill.

USA Todayleads with word that the National Guard's new recruiting tactics appear to be paying off as the number of troops is at the highest level since 2001. Besides branching out in their recruitment, the Guard has also increased signing bonuses and developed a program to encourage current members to bring in new people. The Wall Street Journal tops its world-wide newsbox with President Bush's Independence Day speech, where he said the Iraq war will require "more patience" and warned against an early pullout. The Los Angeles Timesleads with a look at how Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger's high-flying lifestyle is sometimes funded by an "obscure" nonprofit whose donors are kept secret and can claim full tax deductions on their contributions. When he goes abroad, the governor likes to travel in style, and it's this nonprofit that frequently ends up footing the bill for the classy private jets and the luxury hotels. There's concern that special interests could be giving money to the group in exchange for favors.

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The WP's lead focuses on the problems facing the guards' base, which was built to house the embassy's security personnel and was supposed to be finished in January. When it finally opened in May, it was plagued with problems that were detailed in a "toughly worded cable" sent from Iraq to Washington that pointed out several issues with the construction, some of which were seen as potential safety threats to the staff. For example, a contractor admitted to using a toxic chemical in the construction of housing trailers. There's lots of finger-pointing between State Department officials, as well as among the different contractors, which ultimately "reflect the broader problems that have thwarted reconstruction efforts throughout war-torn Iraq," says the Post.

The LAT fronts word that investigators are looking into claims that Marines killed as many as eight unarmed Iraqi prisoners. During the early days of the intense fighting to take control of Fallujah in November 2004, Marines detained a group of insurgents. When the Marines asked what they should do with the prisoners their superiors asked, "They're still alive?" They apparently took that to mean that the prisoners should be killed. This would make it the third known investigation into possible war crimes by Marines stationed out of California's Camp Pendleton.

The NYT fronts a look at the mental-health problems that private contractors who worked in Iraq are facing, which are very similar to those plaguing U.S. servicemembers. It's often more difficult for private contractors to get proper treatment because they have to find their own medical care. There have been 205 claims filed for treatment of post-traumatic stress disorder; everyone suspects there are many more cases, but there's no systematic check so it's likely that many who have problems might not know it or could be reluctant to admit it. A few weeks ago, the LAT looked into the issue and found that insurance often denied requests for treatment when it involved a psychological disorder. Also, although the LAT revealed new numbers yesterday and reported that there are at least 180,000 private contractors in Iraq, the NYT today says there are "up to 126,000." Does the NYT not believe the LAT's number?

The LAT fronts, and the rest of the papers go inside with, the latest from the failed car bombings in London and Glasgow. People who knew one of the Iraqi doctors who drove a Jeep into the Glasgow Airport and is suspected of being a leader of the plots, described him as a very religious man who was growing increasingly angry at the situation in Iraq, and who admired militant Islamic leaders. Everyone mentions that, as authorities continue to look for links with terrorist groups, a senior British cleric working in Baghdad said that in April he met with a suspected al-Qaida leader in Jordan who warned him that "those who cure you will kill you." Although authorities aren't sure how all eight suspects are connected, many clearly have a Cambridge connection.

The fact that all the suspects were well-off and had tons of education shouldn't be surprising, says an interesting piece in the WSJ that reports on the research work of a Princeton economist who says that it's a "misconception" to think poverty leads to terrorism. Alan Krueger says there's simply no evidence to prove that the uneducated and the poor are more likely to carry out a terrorist act, and, in fact, the opposite is usually true.

Even though there have often been warnings that terrorist leaders are looking to get their hands on weapons of mass destruction, the Post says on Page One that the plots in London and Glasgow are a perfect example of how groups such as al-Qaida have almost always relied on homemade bombs that can be made from common ingredients.

In a fine piece of service journalism, the NYT tackles the big confusing questions surrounding sunscreens. The FDA is planning to bring some guidance into a glutted marketplace, but until then you shouldn't believe most packaging claims. There's no such thing as a sunscreen that lasts all day, you should always reapply after swimming, and, to get effective coverage, you "should use about a shot glass of sunscreen on your body, and a teaspoon for the face."

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