Thursday, June 16, 2005


Slate-Papers: Patriot Pains - June 16

By Eric Umansky
Posted Thursday, at 12:41 AM PT

The Wall Street Journal world-wide newsbox and Washington Post lead with the House, in a surprise diss of the president, voting to tighten the FBI's ability to peek into library or bookstore records during terrorism investigations. Thirty-eight Republicans joined with Democrats in the tightening of the Patriot Act. President Bush has said before that he would veto such a change. The Justice Dept. recently released records showing they have never actually used the provision to peek at library records. The New York Times leads with word that some career Justice Department lawyers involved in the tobacco trial objected to the decision by top DOJ officials to seriously scale back the penalties demanded from cigarette companies. USA Today leads with and others front the autopsy report on Terri Schiavo confirming that the damage to her brain was indeed "irrecoverable"; her brain had shriveled to about half its normal size. The Los Angeles Times leads with five big unions, representing about 40 percent of the AFL-CIO's membership, announcing the creation of their own federation. They promised to also stick with the AFL-CIO--at least for a couple months. The dissident unions charge that the AFL-CIO is hide-bound and recruiting-impaired.

The NYT bases its lead on a memo from two DOJ lawyers urging their political appointee boss not to slash the penalties sought from cigarette companies: "We do not want politics to be perceived as the underlying motivation, and that is certainly a risk if we make adjustments in our remedies presentation that are not based on evidence." But as the Times mentions 15 paragraphs down, at least one other DOJ lawyer involved supported the lower penalties. Time magazine also talked to one "career Justice Department prosecutor involved in the case" who said the perception of an administration dive is "exactly wrong." And on Monday, the WSJ talked to some legal analysts who said also the feds made a reasonable move.

To continue reading, click here.

Eric Umansky writes "Today's Papers" for Slate. He can be reached at todayspapers@slate.com.

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