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Daily Column
US Papers Sunday: Tell Me How This Ends
Bodies Strung Up From Lampposts; "Surge or Power Failure?"
By EASON JORDAN 01/07/2007 02:18 AM ET
Read on to learn about the “the most competitive guy in the world” and the inspiring Arlington Ladies.

The imminent Iraq “surge” of U.S. forces is topic one in the two big east coast papers. Reports say the plan, to be detailed by President Bush in a TV address Wednesday or Thursday, is still taking shape but is coming into focus.

The New York Times’s David Sanger tops his page one report with word the plan will add as many as 20,000 troops in Iraq and provide as much as $1 billion for an Iraqi jobs program. While the NY Times notes doubts even within the Bush administration about the plan, the Washington Post's page one "surge" story highlights in its first graph "growing skepticism inside and outside the administration" regarding the Iraq plan. The Post story is written by a troika: Michael Abramowitz, Robin Wright, and Ann Scott Tyson.

NEW YORK TIMES

In a late dispatch that missed the early edition of the Times, Marc Santora reports on fierce fighting in Baghdad, with bodies being strung up from lampposts.

On page one, Sabrina Tavernise reports on residents of one block in Baghdad still reeling more than a year after 34 neighborhood boys were killed by a suicide bomber as the kids were collecting candy from U.S. troops. Family members and other neighborhood residents remain shattered. A horror-of-war report that’s a must-read.

In a report taking a full inside page of the paper, John Burns provides the back story and the ugly details regarding the lead up to the hanging of Saddam Hussein. U.S. officials fought a losing battle with Iraqi Prime Minister Maliki to delay the execution for at least a few days. The fascinating story is reported by Burns, James Glanz, Sabrina Tavernise, and Marc Santora.

Playing catch up after being scooped on the story by the Washington Post yesterday, the Times's Paul von Zielbauer reports on the voluminous evidence compiled against the Marines charged in the 2005 killing of 24 Iraqi civilian in Haditha.

In the Week in Review section, Mary Jo Murphy provides an interesting history of executions of deposed rulers.

Perhaps the most educational read in the Times consumes most of page five of the Week in Review section: a series of big graphics headlined, "The Ever Mutating Iraq Insurgency."

In his weekly column, Frank Rich brands Bush's "surge" scheme a "flimflam," dismisses Iraqi Prime Minister Maliki as beholden to his "puppet master" Moqtada al Sadr, and closes with this thought: "Our long national nightmare in Iraq, far from being over, is about to get a second wind." Oh, yes, Rich says let’s call the “surge” what it is: an “escalation.”

Columnist David Brooks says the only way to make the "surge" work is to divide Iraq along sectarian and ethnic lines and to have U.S. forces ensure they stay apart.

A Times editorial denounces Bush, saying in part: “he seems to have interpreted his party’s drubbing as a mandate to keep pursuing his fantasy of victory in Iraq.”

WASHINGTON POST

Rick Atkinson writes a superb profile of David Petraeus, who will soon take on the unenviable task of leading U.S. forces in Iraq. Atkinson knows Petraeus well – they spent months together in 2003 when Atkinson was embedded with Petraeus’s 101st Airborne -- and it shows here. Atkinson reports that Petraeus in 2003 often wondered aloud: “Tell me how this ends” in Iraq. Now it’s up to Petraeus to play a key role in answering the question. One acquaintance describes Petraeus as “the most competitive guy in the world,” but many who admire him says even the best general might not be able to ensure victory in Iraq.

Following up on his Saturday exclusive on the Pentagon’s probe into the 2005 Haditha incident in which Marines killed two dozen Iraqi civilians, Josh White reports military investigators uncovered dozens of gruesome photos of the aftermath of the killings.

From Baghdad, Joshua Partlow reports on Iraqi Prime Minister Maliki promising to move ahead with a non-sectarian campaign against "outlaws" in Baghdad.

From Washington, Shailagh Murray reports on Connecticut Senator Joseph Lieberman irking fellow Democrats by calling for more U.S. troops in Iraq – not a new position but one that prompts raised eyebrows among many.

Brigid Schulte profiles the Arlington Ladies - heroic women who volunteer to be attend each and every burial at Arlington Cemetery. This is a moving story.

A Washington Post editorial questions whether it's smart for there to be an Iraq "surge," while not coming out explicitly against the idea.

The Post features at least three Iraq-focused commentaries that are unavailable via the Post’s Web site because of an apparent technical glitch (as of 145am et). The first is by John McCain. It’s headed “The Case for More Troops.” An op-ed by George Will is headed “Surge or Power Failure?” And columnist Jim Hoagland’s piece is headlined “Clarity in Iraq, and Beyond.”

In the book review section, Pamela Constable reviews the book "FROM BAGHDAD, WITH LOVE, A Marine, the War, and a Dog Named Lava." The booked was written by Marine Lt. Col. Jay Kopelman, who snagged an abandoned puppy in Iraq and conspired with a cast of characters to overcome the odds and get the dog to the United States.

USA TODAY

Dark Sundays.

WALL STREET JOURNAL

Dark Sundays.

CHRISTIAN SCIENCE MONITOR

Dark Sundays.

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