Today’s Papers

By Barron YoungSmith
Posted Sunday,
Dec. 9, 2007, at 6:37 P.M. E.T.

The Washington Post leads
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 Times lead
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.

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 an editorial web
intern at
The New Republic.

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