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Daily Column
U.S. Papers Friday: New Key U.S. Players
Dems to Challenge Bush; Video Caper Still Unresolved
By SETH SMITH 01/05/2007 01:56 AM ET
Staffing Changes Dominated Friday News


Sheryl Gay Stolberg got confirmation that Zalmay Khalilzad, currently U.S. ambassador to Iraq, is headed to the U.N. Ryan Crocker, ambassador to Pakistan, will replace Khalilzad in Baghdad.

Michael R. Gordon and Thom Shanker write up changes in military command while also providing new details about the expected increase in troop numbers. Lt. General David Petraeus will succeed General Casey as top military commander in Iraq. Admiral William J. Fallon will replace General John P. Abizaid as head of Central Command. On the troop front, the current expectation is a doubling of troops undertaking security operations in Baghdad, as well as additional troops in Anbar province.

Mark Mazetti and David Sanger have lots of hand-wringing about John Negroponte's move from director of national intelligence to deputy secretary of state. Negroponte is expected to focus on Iraq, along with China and North Korea, in his new post. Scott Shane has the obligatory profile of John McConnell, Negroponte's expected successor as DNI.

Marc Santora and Johan Spanner give an account of the gritty aftermath of a bombing Thursday in Baghdad's Mansour neighborhood. The story is a welcome corrective to the many days when U.S. newspapers report both U.S. and Iraqi but primarily Iraqi casualties as statistics rather than as very real human tragedies.

Jeff Zeleny and Helene Cooper have several prominent Republican Senators denouncing the circumstances surrounding Saddam Hussein's hanging. All agree that the execution's aftermath will further inflame sectarian tensions.

An unsigned editorial hopes that John Negroponte will be more effective in conveying the realities on the ground in Iraq as deputy secretary of state than he was as ambassador to Iraq.

Op-Ed Contributor Slavoj Zizek writes about Saddam Hussein's history of authoritarian rule, noting that his greatest crime, invading Iran, is rarely brought up in the West since the West was arming him throughout that war.


Robin Wright and Michael Abramowitz have a run-down of President Bush's expected new appointments, and details about next week's expected unveiling of a new strategy. Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri Al Maliki will likely promise an additional 4,500 Iraqi troops to secure Baghdad, along with the new U.S. troop commitment. The article also plays up continuing divisions between the White House, Congress and the Joint Chiefs, with some among the latter two doubting the wisdom of a troop increase. Another source of tension, this time within the White House, centers on the question of the Shiite-led government's ability to fashion a political settlement.

Glenn Kessler interviewed Senator Joe Biden, who says that senior administration officials, possibly including Vice President Dick Cheney, believe that Iraq is a lost cause, but want to prolong the war so that the next U.S. administration has to deal with the inevitable fallout. The article also serves as a primer for hearings on Iraq that Biden plans to conduct as he takes up the gavel as chair of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee.

Karen DeYoung and Walter Pincus have a number of senior officials saying that Negroponte's move to State has less to do with concerns about intel reform and everything to do with filling an important position at the State Department. The duo also gets several lawmakers on the record with reactions to the move, as well as speculation on further personnel moves lower down in the bureaucracy.

Sudarsan Raghavan has the latest on the Iraqi government investigation into the Saddam Hussein hanging video.Two guards have now been arrested, though it is unclear whether they are in addition to the previously reported arrest. The article also includes a rundown of the Thursday's violence.

Columnist Eugene Robinson urges Democrats to stay focused on challenging President Bush's Iraq policy, which he Robinson believes is woefully inadequate.

Columnist Charles Krauthammer, a leading supporter of the war, denounces the trial and hanging of Saddam Hussein in the strongest possible terms. Krauthammer also appears to have lost faith in the Shiite-led government, and advocates foregoing a troop increase if one only means furthering the Maliki government's sectarian agenda.

Columnist E.J. Dionne writes that Democrats have few options available to stop President Bush's apparent plan to increase troop levels, but outlines steps that many Democrats, particularly in the Senate, are planning as a way of limiting Bush's options.


For your one-stop shopping needs, Susan Page and David Jackson have a quick summary of all the impending high-level executive branch staff changes.

Matt Kelley and Richard Willing point out that Negroponte's expected successor, John McConnell, has been a leader in the privatization of intelligence gathering. Booz Allen, the company by which McConnell is currently employed, is a leading intelligence contractor.

An unsigned editorial continues the boomlet of stories concerning the Iraqi refugee crisis. The editors suggest that President Bush use next week's announcement of a new strategy to focus world attention on Iraq's refugees, in part to avoid their becoming the 21st century's equivalent to the Palestinian diaspora.


Jay Solomon and Robert Block have an interesting angle on the recent spate of appointments, writing that the ascension of Admiral McConnell to DNI means that all Washington's top spy agencies will be headed by former military men. Outsiders worry that McConnell's background at the Pentagon will leave him overly beholden to political prerogatives like fighting wars and less interested in long-term efforts to develop U.S. intel capacity.

Yochi J. Dreazen and Greg Jaffe write that President Bush will request billions in additional funds, in part to fund "moderate" political parties, during next week's Iraq speech. Most of the new money will go directly to the Iraqis rather than being routed through U.S.-based contractors, according to the administration.

Guest columnists Dan Senor and Roman Martinez cheerlead the decision to send more troops to Iraq, as well as offering their advice on personnel and other topics. They appear to advocate for more than 50,000 new troops to be added.


Peter Grier examines proposals for partitioning Iraq if no other political or military solution succeeds. The article does a decent job of presenting the two best-known partition plans, associated with Joe Biden and Michael O'Hanlon respectively. But fails to discuss options for Baghdad, by all accounts the most difficult city to partition.


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