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Wednesday, July 13, 2005

 

Slate-Papers: Crucial Leeds - July 13

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By Eric Umansky - Posted Wednesday, at 3:20 AM CT

The New York Times, Los Angeles Times, Wall Street Journal world-wide newsbox, and Washington Post all lead with yesterday's big breaks on the London bombings. Police believe they've ID'd the four attackers--young British men--at least one and probably most of whom killed themselves in the bombings. The police--backed up with Army soldiers--also searched six houses in hardscrabble neighborhoods of Leeds. They found explosives at one of the homes as well as in a car the suspects used. They also arrested one man, the Post says a relative of one of the suspects. USA Today fronts the investigation but leads with, and the Post fronts, a preview of the Department Homeland Security's coming realignment, which is set to be announced today.

The suspected bombers were mostly in their teens or early twenties--though as the Post notes, British papers report one was "about 35." Minutes after the attacks, the parents of one of the apparent bombers reported him missing. That prompted police to find his likeness along with that of his likely co-attackers recorded by one of the thousands of closed circuit cameras in the Underground. The British Guardian has a detailed account of the raids and how they came about.

Given that investigators are also now confident that the explosives were top-notch, there's a new question: How did young men from Leeds get ahold of them and the expertise to put it all together? The LAT might have a hint. It flags a British TV interview with one neighbor who said one of the suspects spent six months in Afghanistan and Pakistan last year. And as everybody notes, if indeed these were suicide bombers, they'd be the first to hit Europe.

Leeds police officerA policeman, left, walks past a bomb disposal robot outside a house in Leeds, July 12, 2005. REUTERS/Ian Hodgson.

A somewhat conflicting picture emerges of Leeds, which the Journal says is home to a quarter of all asylum seekers in the U.K. The WSJ says it was "the scene of race riots" in 2001. But the NYT says the city has actually been pretty peaceful and the riots didn't hit there. Everybody agrees that the neighborhoods where the suspects lived are down-and-out.

Reportedly, the changes at Homeland Security include a focus on preventing mass casualty attacks. It's not clear what that means in the concrete. USAT was actually Chertoffbriefed by DHS chief Michael Chertoff, right. But as the paper notes he "did not specify the kind of terror threat he would de-emphasize or how he proposes to shift resources." The Post meanwhile, attributes details of the changes to unnamed "congressional and department officials." TP tends to think readers are not well-served by such usually spin-heavy previews. But it's worth noting that both USAT and the Post contacted outside analysts who praised the coming changes. DHS's former inspector general told USAT he "could not agree more with [the newly proposed] threat-based, risk-based, consequence-based approach."

Rove with Bush Jr.The LAT, WP, and NYT go Page One with l'affaire Rove, seen here with President Bush, left. As the Journal emphasizes, the White House's continued to stand by Rove, gingerly. "Any individual who works here at the White House has the president's confidence," said spokesman Scott McClellan. Slate's Tim Noah read that and started a Rove Death Watch. President Bush had said he would fire anybody involved in the leak ("of classified information"). Asked yesterday what he plans to do with Rove, the president stayed mum.

The WP's Rove-ing dispatch focuses on the GOP circling the wagons. RNC chief Ken Melham described Democratic criticism of Rove as a "partisan smear campaign." That's one item in a list of talking points Republicans sent out defending Rove. Brainstorm: If the papers have the talking points, why not publish them, probably on the Web, with fact-based annotations?

The WP and NYT reefer South Korea offering big carrots to North Korea--in the form of electricity--for Pyongyang to give up its nukes program. The U.S. seems to be on board.

AbbasEverybody mentions the Palestinian suicide bomber who hit the costal town of Netanya, killing three people at a mall and wounding 30. (The NYT says just two people were killed.) Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas, right, offered a particularly strong condemnation, calling those behind the attack "traitors."

The NYT off-leads what seems to be an administration-delivered preview of the latest budget numbers, which show the estimated deficit shrinking by nearly $100 billion from projections earlier this year, thanks largely to a jump in corporate income. Though the Times goes big with the shrinkage, it also notes up high that analysts think the decline will be short-lived, particularly if the White House's tax cuts are made permanent as Bush has called for. On Monday, the Times' Paul Krugman offered a "pre-emptive debunking" of the coming spin.

The Journal adds inside that the Senate is pushing past some White House-backed domestic spending caps.

The NYT reefers the death of 10 Sunnis--suspected insurgents--who suffocated after being locked inside a sweltering van by Iraqi commandos. Doctors said the men, who had been taken from a hospital, also showed signs of torture. As the NYT notes, Iraqi police and particularly commandos have a habit of abuse.

Ring any bells? ... From the LAT:

It was in George H.W. Bush's second presidential campaign that Rove got into hot water with his employer. Rove was fired from the 1992 reelection team because of suspicions that he had leaked information [...] to columnist Robert Novak.

Eric Umansky writes "Today's Papers" for Slate. He can be reached at todayspapers@slate.com. Source: Slate Magazine's Today's Papers column, "Crucial Leeds."


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