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Daily Column
U.S. Papers Friday: Atrocity?
Marines Face Charges for Iraqi Deaths; Gates Fact-Finding
By EASON JORDAN 12/22/2006 02:07 AM ET
The NYT, WP, and USAT report on eight U.S. Marines facing charges related to the killing of 24 Iraqi cilivians in the Iraqi city of Haditha last year. Four marines face murder charges and four face charges related to their alleged failure to properly report and investigate the episode.

Other Iraq-focused is in the papers:

NEW YORK TIMES

From Baghdad, James Glanz reports on Iraqi factions turning against a plan to isolate Shia cleric Muqtada Sadr. This report folds into it the hard news of the Baghdad visit of new Defense Secretary Robert Gates, who heard U.S. troops call for reinforcements there. The WP provides better coverage of Gates's Baghdad tour.

From Baghdad, David Cloud provides an insightful "Pentagon Memo" that serves as an analytical piece, comparing and contrasting the styles of defense secretaries Rumsfeld and Gates. Cloud characterizes Rumsfeld as "volcanic and opinionated," while branding Gates "humble and open-minded" - at least as far as this Iraq visit goes.

WASHINGTON POST

Tom Ricks and Sudarsan Raghavan lead their Baghdad-datelined report by reporting Iraqi PM Maliki said he'd let the U.S. decide whether to "surge" U.S. troops into Iraq. Later in the story, Maliki allies said they oppose the idea a surge, while U.S. troops with whom Gates had breakfast appealed for more troops. Gates is getting it from all sides, including U.S. generals who oppose the surge idea.

Also from Baghdad, Nancy Trejos reports that this month is tracking to be one of the deadliest yet for U.S. forces in Iraq, with three troops reported killed yesterday. Iraqis are being killed in near-record numbers, as well, although that's not explicitly stated in this story.

In the business section, there's a lengthy Griff Witte-penned story about the chief of military contractor Parsons getting into a public spat with U.S. officials who've lambasted Parsons's lapses in Iraq. Parsons CEO James McNulty defends his team, criticizes the U.S. government for asking too much of contractors (isn't Parsons pitching for these jobs?), and says despite the fuss "the very people who are criticizing us are giving us more work."

On the opinion page, columnist David Ignatius writes of U.S. military bloggers and their moving dispatches from Iraq during the holidays.

USA TODAY

The usual Friday feature on life in Iraq focuses this week on the war taking a toll on Baghdad's restaurants. One restaurant owner says the curfew is destroying his business. USA Today also provides a restaurant's menu/prices. USA Today provides a restaurant's menu/prices.

WALL STREET JOURNAL

From Washington, Deborah Soloman says the war's rising price tag is putting pressure on Bush and Congress to make tough choices about funding for domestic government programs.

CHRISTIAN SCIENCE MONITOR

Correspondent Brad Knickerbocker plays off the Haditha killings to look more broadly at all the alleged atrocities by U.S. forces in Iraq and how the military is dealing with them.

From Cairo, Dan Murphy reports on Mideast leaders trying to solve their problems rather than relying on the usual mover and shaker in the region - the United States. Murphy reports Mideast leaders view the U.S. as weak and unable to bring about change, and much of the diplomacy is aimed at keeping the violence and turmoil in Iraq from spilling over to neighboring countries.

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