The LAT fronts word that the Senate intelligence committee will soon begin to investigate the CIA's controversial detention and interrogation programs under the Bush administration. The inquiry will look into how the programs got started, how they were executed, whether they followed the instructions that were issued after Sept. 11, and whether lawmakers were kept fully informed, among other issues. Senate aides emphasized that the investigation aims to learn lessons for the future and not to determine whether particular CIA officials broke the law. Lawmakers are still discussing the "terms and scope" of the investigation, and it's not even clear whether a final report would be released to the public.
The WP and NYT front, and everyone else covers, news that the Justice Department is getting ready to file criminal charges against the only man currently being held in the United States as an "enemy combatant." Ali Saleh Kahlah al-Marri has spent more than 5 years in a military brig in South Carolina and will be charged with providing material support to al-Qaida. Indicting Marri could help Obama avoid having to make the politically sensitive decision of whether a president can hold a legal resident indefinitely without being charged. Marri has challenged his designation as an enemy combatant, and the Supreme Court is scheduled to hear that case in April. Marri's lawyers say they intend to push ahead with the case, but the Justice Department is widely expected to ask the Supreme Court to dismiss it once he is indicted.
USAT fronts, and everyone notes, the Pentagon lifting an 18-year ban on press coverage of the returning war dead. Families will now get to decide whether they will allow news organizations to photograph the flag-covered caskets when they arrive in the United States. Details still have to be worked out, as it remains unclear what would happen if a flight carries more than one casket and the families disagree on access.
The NYT's David Brooks says that the "greatest shortcomings" in Obama's budget "are sins of omission, not commission." Although sometimes it seems that Obama wields a great presence in Washington, at certain points "there is a weird passivity emanating from the White House." There's no better example than health care, where it seems the administration has "over-learned the lessons of the Clinton-care fiasco" and is ready to cede authority to Congress. That wouldn't be such a big deal if there was a clear leader, such as Hillary Clinton or Ted Kennedy, to keep things in line. But now so many people will be scrambling for influence that we'll "either get an irresponsible bill produced by the Old Order or no bill at all," writes Brooks. "Obama blew a mighty trumpet Tuesday night, but after you blow the trumpet, you actually have to charge."