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US Papers Sun: Feith Strikes Back at his Foes
New book hits enemies hard; Senate wants Iraq audit; Librarian on the front
By CHRIS ALLBRITTON 03/09/2008 00:58 AM ET
The two biggies fill up on features and enterprise today, with only a spot of news straight from Iraq in the Washington Post. The New York Times contents itself to look mainly homeward while the Post returns to its base in D.C.

Over there
Joshua Partlow of the Post reports that a mass grave containing the remains of 100 people was found north of Baghdad in Diyala province on the outskirts of a Shi'ite village. It's the largest mass grave found so far in Diyala, said Ibrahim Majilan, head of the provincial council.

The Times's Joseph Berger writes of Shelby Monroe, a part-time librarian who picked up sticks and embedded with the 101st Airborne twice and now blogs from the front lines. (Hey, sounds familiar!) She's trying to capture the ordinary stories of American soldiers and Iraqis, "glimpses of the mundane."

Washington doings
Oh, this will be good. Thomas E. Ricks and Karen DeYoung, in a fronter for the Post, report that former undersecretary for defense policy Douglas J. Feith has written a score-settling book in which he blames everyone but himself for the failures in Iraq. He blasts Colin Powell, the CIA, retired Gen. Tommy R. Franks -- who rather famously called Feith "the f**king stupidest guy on the face of the earth" -- and L. Paul Bremer. He says the mean ol' State Department undermined his plans. (That they were dumb plans doesn't seem to have occurred to him.) The story is a rundown of Feith's ire for his enemies -- which are legion, apparently -- but little is made of his own monumental screw-ups in stove piping intelligence through his Pentagon office. A single graph by Ricks and DeYoung mentions a Pentagon investigation by the Pentagon's inspector general that slammed his intel analysis mad skillz. In all, this article -- and the book, when it comes out -- will be the most heavily blogged article of the day.

James Glanz of the Times reports that two senior members of the Senate Armed Services Committee want a full accounting of how Iraq has spent its oil revenue, now that prices are going through the roof and Iraq seems perpetually poor still. "We believe that it has been overwhelmingly U.S. taxpayer money that has funded Iraq reconstruction over the last five years, despite Iraq earning billions of dollars in oil revenue over that time period that have ended up in non-Iraqi banks," stated a letter signed by Sens. Carl Levin, D-Mich. and John Warner, R-Va. The confusion is arising from the fact that Iraq has spent only a small portion of its reconstruction budgets for 2006 and 2007, and no one seems to know where the money is going. Much of the reconstruction is not happening or limited to small, U.S.-funded projects now.

Home front
The Times's Emily Brady reports on the anguished wait of Maria Duran, whose son Spec. Alex Jimenez, on his second tour of duty in Iraq, went missing last May. She has formed a bond with other mothers in Queens who have lost children, but the other parents have a definitive answer as to what happened to their offspring: they're dead. Jimenez is still listed as MIA.

IN OTHER COVERAGE

New York Times
Jason Campbell, Michael O'Hanlon and Amy Unikewicz of the Brookings Institution update the stats on Iraq in their regular "State of Iraq" op-chart. By and large most metrics show improvements, but corruption is getting worse.

Washington Post Linda J. Bilmes, a lecturer in public policy at the Harvard Kennedy School of Government, and Nobel Prize-winning economist Joseph Stiglitz, writing for the Post's outlook section, go into all the ways the Iraq war will cost the U.S. $3 trillion or more in direct and indirect costs. "The disparity between the economy's actual output and its potential output," they write, "is likely to be the greatest since the Great Depression."

Lt. Col. John A. Nagl, a commander of the 1st Battalion, 34th Armor, at Fort Riley, Kan. and a co-author of "The U.S. Army/Marine Corps Counterinsurgency Field Manual," argues for greater counter-insurgency efforts in Iraq and Afghanistan and expanding the local security forces in those wars. He also calls for patience from the American people and a recognition that these will be long wars.

Military reporter Tom Ricks filters his inbox to reveal a report from Army Col. Don M. Snider of the Army War College's Strategic Studies Institute. In it, Snider attempts to lay down some ground rules for dissent from generals when the civilian leadership is heading off a cliff. Might be good to have if things with Iran heat up.

Christian Science Monitor, USA Today and Wall Street Journal
No Sunday editions.

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