Oprah Winfrey stumps for Obama.

A summary of what's in the major U.S. newspapers.
Dec. 9 2007 6:36 AM

Glory Oprah

The Washington Postleads with news that key members of Congress have been briefed regularly on the CIA's interrogation techniques since 2002. They only started complaining about practices like water-boarding once details leaked to the press. The Los Angeles Times leads with, and the other papers stuff, the launch of a joint CIA-Justice Department inquiry into the destruction of CIA interrogation video tapes. The New York Timeslead says major oil-producing countries will soon consume so much for themselves that they become net oil importers, raising gas prices yet more.

Since September 2002, the CIA has been briefing Congress' "Gang of Four"—senior members of the House and Senate intelligence committees (including Rep. Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif.)—on the use of "advanced interrogation techniques" and secret overseas prisons. It's not clear what the group was told, but their attitude was one of "quiet acquiescence, if not outright support." After press leaks in 2005, they started to voice concerns, prompting the CIA to brief other committee members as well.

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The Justice Department and the CIA's inspector general announced a joint investigation as to whether the CIA's destruction of video tapes merits a full inquiry. Despite leading with the story, the LAT doesn't have much to say about the matter—devoting only 271 words. But the NYT thinks CIA officials are more worried than they let on, citing internal disagreements over who's really responsible. The NYT also says the inquiry could provide new legal arguments for Guantanamo detainees' lawyers.

Oil wealth is driving record economic growth in countries like Russia, Saudi Arabia, and Mexico—meaning their citizens drive more cars, build more houses, and consume more luxuries than ever before. It also means they consume more oil than ever before: They'll be net importers in the next few decades and gas prices will rise accordingly.

Both the NYT and WP go up top with profiles of Sen. Hillary Clinton, D-N.Y. The Rodhamfest includes pieces scrutinizing Hillary's inner emotions, her childhood, her speaking style, her campaign strategy, her CV, her mistakes, her dark secrets, and her pantsuits.

Meanwhile, the WP fronts, and the NYT stuffs, Oprah Winfrey stumping on behalf of Sen. Barack Obama, D-Ill., in Iowa. Winfrey gave a slightly nervous, surprisingly passionate speech in favor of Obama's fresh political approach. Hillary held events in Iowa featuring her mother and daughter, but otherwise ceded the news cycle to Winfrey's sold-out event.

The NYT fronts a look at a huge Kurdish tent city that's developed inside the soccer stadium of oil-rich Kirkuk. The Kurdish government strongly urged thousands of Kurds to move to the city (read: threatened to eliminate their benefits) so they can vote in a referendum that decides if the area is part of Kurdistan. It looks like the vote won't happen on schedule; and the NYT sounds almost relieved, since it thinks Iraq will be destabilized if the Kurds get their way.

The LAT fronts details on a secret CIA program called "the Brain Drain," which induced several Iranian nuclear officials to defect. "Brain Drain" is supposed to slow Iran's nuclear progress, but it ended up delivering the data that led to the CIA's revised assessment of Iran's weapons program.

Also on the front: The NYT plays catch-up. It runs a story about increased scrutiny of Mike Huckabee's past missteps, crediting yesterday's LAT for the bit about Huckabee paroling a convicted rapist; the Associated Press for details on Huckabee's past support for rounding up and quarantining AIDS patients; and Newsweek for related poll data. Oh well, the NYT is in Kirkuk. They can't be everywhere.

The NYT and LAT front fallout from Friday's breakdown of talks between the studios and the Writers Guild of America. The LAT says the strike is tearing apart the social fabric of Hollywood. Less dramatically, the NYT says we're in for twice as many reality shows—noting that a similar strike in 1988 launched "COPS" and "America's Most Wanted." Cf. the NYT's image caption for a chuckle.

The WP fronts an interesting look at Europe's battle over mosque construction. Minarets have become a flashpoint for battles over identity; prompting even German Chancellor Angela Merkel to say "we must take care that mosque cupolas are not built demonstrably higher than church steeples." (In German, of course.) One French town, however, is using public funds to build a stunning, semi-Corbusian mosque.

And the NYT "Style" section looks at Russia's high society women with a piece called "Rubles Are a Girl's Best Friend." In short, the world of Russia's ultra-rich playgirls is intertwined with the government, flashy, and slightly incestuous.

Barron YoungSmith is the former online editor of The New Republic. Follow him on Twitter.

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