By Arthur Delaney
All the papers give top billing today to stories on President Barack Obama’s busy first full day in office. The New York Times leads with Obama’s plans to sign an order today calling for the shutdown of the CIA’s network of secret prisons abroad and the closing of the detention camp in Guantanamo Bay within one year. The Washington Post leads with the expected order and tough new ethics rules on lobbying and document disclosure ordered by Obama yesterday. The Los Angeles Times focuses on Obama pushing military leaders for a plan to withdraw from Iraq. The Wall Street Journal highlights a pay freeze for top staffers. In its rundown of yesterday’s presidential doings, USA Today declares that “the change began” shortly after Obama entered the Oval Office.
Looking to solidify the current Mideast ceasefire, Obama placed calls to the leaders of Egypt, Israel, Jordan, and the Palestinian Authority. The president also met with military and national security advisers to discuss the situation in Iraq and plans for troop withdrawal in 16 months, according to the WP. On the home front, the Post reports that yesterday’s ethics order will prohibit former appointees of this administration from lobbying the federal government while Obama is still in office. The LAT provides a nice summary of three executive orders signed by Obama yesterday to increase the transparency of the executive branch.
The NYT says today’s expected orders will be the first steps in “undoing” the detention policies of the previous administration. The order to close Guantanamo will call for an immediate case-by-case review of each of the 245 detainees there. Obama will also order the shutdown of the CIA’s network of secret detention facilities abroad and new prisoner-treatment rules to comply with international treaties.
The NYT devotes a full Page One story to Obama’s re-taking the oath of office yesterday after he and Chief Justice John Roberts flubbed it on Inauguration Day. Roberts brought his robe over to the White House for a mid-evening redo in the presence of four aides, four reporters, and one photographer. A White House lawyer said they thought the do-over unnecessary but went through with it anyway out of “an abundance of caution.”
All the papers front or tease stories on Caroline Kennedy’s abrupt withdrawal last night from consideration for Hillary Clinton’s vacant Senate seat. Kennedy cited “personal reasons” for the withdrawal in a statement, which an NYT source says must mean she dropped out over uncle Ted Kennedy’s flagging health. A WP source casts doubt on the ill-uncle explanation. The LAT says Gov. David Paterson may have been irked by Kennedy’s aggressive pursuit of the job.
The tech-savvy Obama team confronted a series of technological obstacles after arriving in the White House yesterday, according to a Page One WP story, which says that if Team Obama represents an “iPhone kind of future,” the first day of the new administration was downright “rotary-dial.” Phone lines were disconnected, e-mail accounts inaccessible, and the White House Web site went un-updated throughout the day. Worst of all, Mac-accustomed Obama staffers were apparently chagrined to discover that they would be forced to use Windows XP: They “found computers outfitted with six-year-old versions of Microsoft software.”
Speaking of Macs, the WSJ reports that Apple Inc. bucked the recession and posted strong sales and profit for the holiday quarter, thanks to those fab computers and that nifty phone. The bad news for Apple is that the Securities and Exchange Commission has opened an inquiry into the accuracy of previous statements on CEO Steve Jobs’ health.
Cleaner air causes longer lives, according to a front-page USAT story on a new medical survey. Life expectancy in the United States increased by nearly three years from just two decades ago, and a portion of that increase may be due to improved air quality in urban areas.
Bad news from Afghanistan: The NYT reports a Taliban presence in every area short on NATO forces. But American commanders have been told to make plans for 20,000 to 30,000 additional troops that the Obama administration plans to deploy there.
The WP has a nice front-page follow-up on some of the troubles faced by folks who traveled to Washington for the inauguration. Sen. Dianne Feinstein, chairwoman of the Congressional Inaugural Committee, has demanded an investigation after hearing stories of ticket-holders who did everything right, who even showed up early, and then found themselves stuck in unmoving lines for hours, only to be told they could not get in. Lots of people wasted their morning inside the Third Street tunnel, now known as the “Purple Tunnel of Doom.” It seemed police wanted to stuff people in the tunnel just to have someplace to stuff them. TP can attest: When he arrived near the Third Street checkpoint, an officer told him he couldn’t get in; TP would have to enter the tunnel and try from the other side. When TP asked if he would be able to access the Mall after walking through the tunnel, the officer said no, definitely not. TP went home.