The New York Times leads with news from unnamed officials that the target of Israel's recent attack on Syria was a partially constructed nuclear reactor. The Washington Post leads with lawmakers and lobbyists trying to get around the congressional gift ban. The WP also goes up top with U.S. efforts to salvage our alliance with Turkey—endangered by a string of Kurdish terrorist attacks and Congress' plan to recognize the Armenian genocide. The Los Angeles Times devotes its top stories to a fiery multi-truck pileup shut down I-5, the main artery between northern and southern California.
The NYT's sources say Israel's September airstrike in Syria targeted the beginnings of a nuclear reactor based on a design from North Korea. There was little disagreement within the administration about the intelligence information itself, but there were fierce arguments last summer as to whether or not the Israeli strike would be "premature." While we do not know how far along the reactor was, it could not have been advanced enough to threaten Israel directly—Israel's attack was instead designed to put Iran on notice.
North Korea's role in the incident is unknown, but the Cheney faction in the administration has seized on the incident in an attempt to scuttle the North Korea denuclearization deal. It looks like Bush isn't playing along.
The WP lead catalogs how lobbyists and lawmakers are adapting to the gift ban Democrats passed after the 2006 corruption scandals: Lobbyists are attending mass seminars on skirting the new rules; lawmakers are restructuring their travel plans, relying on campaign "bundlers," and trying to figure out how they can still host parties for themselves.
The WP goes up top with the Bush administration's frantic attempts to remind Turkey that it shares long-term interests with the U.S. But that isn't convincing Turks, who are in what can best be described as a post-Sept. 11 mood. Kurdish terrorist attacks killed 30 Turks in the past two weeks and newspapers are fronting full page photos of dead soldiers with Turkish flags. Now the Turks want to invade Iraq: Prime Minister Erdogan says parliament should unanimously "declare a mobilization" against the Iraqi Kurds, who haven't been restrained by the U.S.
The Armenian genocide resolution looks like it came at just the wrong time; the Turks are calling it the "last straw." TP also saw reports this evening from Al-Jazeera, via OpenSource.gov, that Turkish artillery are already shelling Kurdish positions inside Iraq.
The LAT leads with extensive coverage of a treacherous tunnel where three were killed and 10 injured in a pileup that burned for hours and threatened the structural integrity of California's major north-south artery. The road may be open again by Tuesday, but maybe not.
The NYT and WPboth front almost the exact same story about Obama and Hillary competing for votes among black women in South Carolina's beauty parlors. The NYT went to Carrie's Magic Touch and Miss Clara's, while the WP went to Hair Menders and Passion Slice—but both pieces follow a twentysomething Obama staffer and both meditate on the identity politics that rend black women choosing between a black man and a white woman.
The WP says inside that Hillary's campaign is "more overtly feminist than her own advisers had anticipated" because Hillary has received so much support from women. Where once she ran from the "woman question," she now embraces it—and legions of self-identified feminists who prefer her 64 percent to 30 percent over Rudy Giuliani.
An LAT piece describes Hillary's Iowa operation as inhumanly experienced, cool, and flawless.
The LAT fronts news that jihadis—in this case European Muslims, converts, and North Africans—are increasingly headed to terrorist camps in Pakistan. Until recently, most "foreign fighters" went straight to Iraq to fight the coalition, but now they'll be trained to carry out attacks in Europe.
The NYT goes above the fold with analysis of Russia's new election laws, saying they're strict enough to push the non-Putinist parties out of government completely.
The NYT also fronts a look into soul-searching at the Army's elite officer training school. The curriculum encourages officers to grapple with mistakes made in Iraq and asks them to identify "red lines" when they would disobey orders from civilian commanders.
Architecture buffs will appreciate the NYT's other front, a look into Camp Justice—the portable judicial complex that the Army is building to try detainees in Guantanamo, an "architectural limbo" that perfectly expresses "legal limbo." The massive tent city has a number of innovations (slide show here), that will allow it to fold up and go home if the U.S. decides to abandon Gitmo in the future.
The WP goes inside with news that Iran and China have stepped up efforts to steal U.S. military technology, leading in with a great story about an Iranian-American who was caught FedExing spare parts for the F-14 Tomcat (may peace be upon that wonderful, retired aircraft) to Iran.
The NYT and LAT say Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) is piling on Gov. Mitt Romney for saying Romney represents "the Republican wing of the Republican Party." Maybe echoing Howard Dean wasn't the best way for Romney to burnish his conservative creds.
TheNYT goes inside with news that Ayatollah Khamenei * doesn't want any Muslim leaders supporting the upcoming Israel-Palestine talks organized by the U.S. The LAT goes inside with analysis about how Bush botched the initiative and how awkward it is for everyone in the Middle East.
Today's must read: Maureen Dowd's NYT column is written by Stephen Colbert. She apparently challenged him to write an NYT op-ed and "he came right over."
TODAY IN SLATE
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Smash and Grab
Will competitive Senate contests in Kansas and South Dakota lead to more late-breaking races in future elections?