Top News

This Week | The Top 5 news stories as measured by coverage in The Washington Post, USA Today, and NBC Nightly News over a one-week period from May 29 to June 5

Issue: "Global shame," June 15, 2002
Scoring system: 5 points for news stories appearing on the front page of The Washington Post, 3 for stories on the next two pages of the "A" section, and 1 thereafter. Same formula for USA Today, except the values are doubled to account for its national circulation. Stories carried on NBC Nightly News receive 10 points if they run before the first ad break, 6 between the first and second break, and 2 thereafter. Anchor-read stories earn 2 points early, 1 point late.
Pakistan and India
196 points | Tensions over Pakistani raids into Kashmir and their potential to escalate into the first nuclear warfare since 1945 captured much of Washington's attention as Congress was out of town. TeamBush decided to send Deputy Secretary of State Richard Armitage and Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld to India and Pakistan to try to mediate the Kashmir crisis. Spokesman Ari Fleischer declined to speculate on the horrendous potential of escalation, but one U.S. study estimated that as many as 12 million people could die instantly if the two nations came to nuclear blows. At an Asian security summit in Kazakhstan, Russian and Chinese officials attempted to set up a meeting between Indian Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee and Pakistani President Pervez Musharraf. Both sides played down worries about nuclear war, but Pakistan has about 50 nuclear weapons, and India about 100. Most are estimated to have the destructive power of the American bomb dropped on Hiroshima.
FBI, CIA questioned
147 points | FBI Director Robert Mueller spawned banner headlines by admitting, "I can't say for sure that there wasn't the possibility that we would have come across some lead that would have led us to the hijackers" of Sept. 11. But Mr. Mueller, who came into office one week before Sept. 11, insisted those chances were exceedingly slim. He made these comments to reporters as he outlined efforts to bring new aggressiveness and organization to the bureau's counterterrorism efforts. Over the weekend, the CIA also came under fire as Newsweek reported that two of the men who hijacked the plane that slammed into the Pentagon had been watched by U.S. operatives-but not prevented from entering America-since they attended an al-Qaeda meeting in Malaysia in January of 2000. Officials then said the United States had agents inside al-Qaeda who overheard talk of a pending attack, but did not learn where or when a strike might occur.
Homeland security
115 points | American Airlines CEO Donald Carty stirred controversy when he declared in a speech in Japan that another terrorist attack against commercial airlines is unlikely and urged that some security measures added at airports since Sept. 11 should be dropped. "It will be a hollow victory indeed if the system we end up with is so onerous and so difficult that air travel, while obviously more secure, becomes more trouble for the average person than it is worth." Meanwhile, the Department of Transportation and the newly created Transportation Security Administration agreed to extend whistleblower protection rights to the newly federalized airport screeners and make it easier for them to report security problems. Congress exempted federal screeners from standard civil-service protections and left it to the Transportation Department to decide the terms and conditions of employment. They worried that traditional civil service protections would prevent or slow the firing of poor performers at airport security checkpoints.
War on terror
76 points | In a speech to graduating cadets at West Point, President Bush warned that the Cold War concepts of containment and deterrence won't apply to the new terrorist threat. He emphasized the need for homeland security measures and missile defense, as well as for preemptive strikes on terrorist cells: "We must take this battle to the enemy, disrupt his plans, and confront the worst threats before they emerge. In the world we have entered, the only path to safety is the path of action. And this nation will act." U.S. forces bombed four cave complexes near the Pakistani border that had been used in the past by Afghan fighters and possibly by al-Qaeda and the Taliban. About 110 U.S. soldiers from the 101st Airborne Division conducted a sweep of the area in eastern Afghanistan southeast of Jalalabad on Sunday. They encountered no al-Qaeda or Taliban fighters.
9/11 memories
52 points | Deep in the 70-foot crater where the World Trade Center's twin towers once stood, firefighters and police stood at attention for the playing of taps and snare drums as the last stretcher was carried out. The last steel beam of the towers was covered by a black shroud and then a neatly folded American flag, since more than half of the estimated 2,823 dead are still unaccounted for as the Ground Zero cleanup officially ended. The 16 acres of the trade center site are now cleared. After the attacks, the rubble was 12 stories high. Cleanup crews removed some 1.8 million tons of debris in about 100,000 truckloads. Now, family groups, city officials, and real-estate developers are expected to battle over what to do on this ground to remember the lost. Some families were already upset that the cleanup ceremony came on a weekday. A second commemoration was held on Sunday.

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