Hayden cruises through his hearings.

Hayden cruises through his hearings.

Hayden cruises through his hearings.

A summary of what's in the major U.S. newspapers.
May 19 2006 3:19 AM

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Everybody leads with CIA chief nominee Gen. Michael Hayden's confirmation hearings, during which he said ... little you haven't heard before.Facing what the Wall Street Journal calls "cordial questioning," Hayden defended the warrantless snooping program as well as the CIA. He also promised to be independent-minded (a trait he's known for) and to keep his distance from the Pentagon. He's a lock. Or as the New York Timesputs it, "Democrats as well as Republicans praised his experience and said he was a good choice."

Hayden did take a few swipes during his testimony. "You get a lot more authority when the workforce doesn't think it's amateur hour on the top floor," he said in not-so-veiled reference to since-disappeared CIA chief Porter Goss.

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Hayden saved his biggest smackdown for one-time top Pentagon official Douglas Feith, whose office cherry-picked raw intel and insisted on a "strong connection" between Saddam and al-Qaida. "I've got three great kids," said Hayden. "But if you tell me, 'Go out and find all the bad things they've done, Hayden,' I could build you a pretty good dossier and you'd think they were pretty bad people. That'd be very wrong, OK?" (Feith was once given a memorable if less-than-affectionate nickname of sorts by top Gen. Tommy Franks.)

The Washington Postand, as it happens, a NYT editorial both notice that Hayden—as the Post puts it—suggested the NSA's domestic snooping "may go beyond what is publicly known."

Slate's Emily Bazelon says Hayden made clear he is "a fan of review, as long as it stays in-house."

The Los Angeles Timesand WPfront the Senate voting to make English the "national language." The amendment to the immigration bill is mostly symbolic, since it doesn't overturn current laws or regulations. It has had one effect already: It's ticking off immigrant-rights groups, who are increasingly unhappy with the amendments being added to the immigration bill. "This is devastating," said one Latino activist. "For us, this is a tough issue to bring back to the community."

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Only the WP fronts one of the most violent days in Afghanistan since the Taliban fell. There were big attacks in four provinces. The Associated Press says that in one case, "300 to 400 militants" led an assault. An American police trainer was killed by a car bomb, and a female Canadian soldier and 12 Afghan soldiers were killed in another attack. Overall, 100 Afghans were reported killed, though most of those seem to have been Taliban, killed by an airstrike.

Four GIs were killed by a roadside bomb outside Baghdad. About 20 Iraqis were killed in assorted other attacks. The Post also flags a "growing, lethal power struggle" between Shiite groups. In Najaf, the head of Moqtada al-Sadr's militia "was shot dead by police allied with a rival Shiite party."

The NYT has a front-page feature on the increasing flow of middle-class Iraqis emigrating. It's a hard trend to quantify—1.85 million Iraqis have requested new passports in the last 10 months, whatever that means exactly. But the sentiment is clear. "Now I am isolated," said one middle-class Sunni. "I have no government. I have no protection from the government. Anyone can come to my house, take me, kill me and throw me in the trash."

The Times piece also has this remarkable (if accurate) stat, cited to a deputy mayor: "312 trash workers have been killed in Baghdad in the past six months."

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A front-page NYT piece says Iran has severely scaled back international nuclear inspectors' access. Without those guys to poke around much, said former weapons inspector David Kay, what Washington might be tempted to turn to is "defectors, anti-regime elements and what foreign intelligence services tell you they know—sort of an Iraq redux." The administration says that's a no-go. "To build a public case, we need the international inspectors," said one SAO.

The WP alone fronts the latest from Egypt, where police beat dozens of pro-democracy protesters and a court sentenced a leading activist to five years in jail on trumped-up charges. "The charade is over," said one analyst. "Egypt is going back to an earlier period of repression." The State Department condemned the moves. But as the WP notes, President Bush also just secretly hosted Egyptian leader Hosni Mubarak's son, the country's heir apparent.

The NYT fronts the House voting to cancel royalty discounts for oil companies drilling offshore. Eighty-five Republicans supported the bill. But GOP House leaders tried to quash it. The Senate still needs to vote on a similar bill.

A WP editorial revisits one of the provisions to the immigration bill that's often celebrated, the guest-worker plan:

It would be unfair and unprecedented to create a visa that bars its holders from obtaining American citizenship, ever. It is true that many potential workers would, polls show, welcome a chance to work here for a few years and then go home. But those who do integrate and aspire to citizenship must be allowed to retain that hope. Certainly it is fair to require them to learn English, be employed, pass a civics test. But deny them even a chance at citizenship, and you have the makings of a permanent underclass.