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This Week | The Top 5 news stories as measured by coverage in The Washington Post, USA Today, and NBC Nightly News from Nov. 20 to 25

Issue: "Daniel of the Year 2002," Dec. 7, 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.


Paper Tiger

166 Points | As Baghdad complained publicly that the United States might launch a war over a typo in any of its required reports to the United Nations, TeamBush was dotting i's and crossing t's in plans for a post-Saddam Iraq. Iraqi Foreign Minister Naji Sabri tried to turn the U.S.-Iraq conflict into a matter of sloppy paperwork, rather than an issue of Saddam's development of weapons of mass destruction. He charged in a letter to UN Secretary General Kofi Annan that the newest UN resolution could turn "inaccurate statements [among] thousands of pages" of required Iraqi reports into a premeditated rationale for military action. Meanwhile, an Iranian-backed ayatollah who's lived in Tehran for more than 20 years despite an Iraqi background is becoming a key ally for the United States. Deputy Defense Secretary Paul Wolfowitz has invited Ayatollah Muhammad Bakir al-Hakim to send a representative to a Dec. 10 meeting of Iraqi opposition leaders in London. The meeting is expected to produce agreement on a set of democratic principles for governing Iraq after Saddam Hussein's regime falls, and commit the new regime to destroying Iraq's weapons of mass destruction.


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76 Points | After election results broke the Senate logjam preventing creation of the Department of Homeland Security, the really hard work began. President Bush signed legislation creating the superagency that will combine 22 separate federal departments. As expected, he nominated his homeland-security czar, former Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Ridge, as the new department's first secretary. In a speech before Republican governors, Mr. Ridge explained the department's burden: "We have to be right millions of times a day, every day, forever. They [the terrorists] have to be right once in a while." Mr. Bush also nominated Navy Secretary Gordon England to be Ridge's deputy secretary, and current Drug Enforcement Agency head Asa Hutchinson to oversee borders and transportation. The legislation mandates that sometime in the next 60 days, the administration must give Congress a detailed master plan on how it would shepherd the department's creation. Once that report is delivered to Capitol Hill, officials will have 90 days to cobble together the department.


Following the Money

70 Points | The Saudi Embassy in Washington went into public-relations overdrive when news broke that Bush family friend Prince Bandar, the longtime Saudi ambassador to the United States, and his wife, Princess Haifa al-Faisal, made financial gifts that may have made their way to two of the Sept. 11 hijackers who crashed into the Pentagon. The Saudi government is conducting its own probe into how donations to a Jordanian woman may have gone to her Saudi husband and then to a friend who helped hijackers Khalid Almihdar and Nawaf Alhazmi obtain an apartment when they arrived in San Diego in 2000. The federal government could not locate nearly half of the 4,112 registered immigrants it wanted to interview after the Sept. 11 attacks because the Immigration and Naturalization Service didn't know where they were living. The General Accounting Office faulted the INS for failing to tell legal permanent immigrants that they must keep the government informed of their current address.


One at a Time

69 Points | Capture of a suspected terrorist behind an attack during the Clinton-Gore administration spoiled once and future presidential candidate Al Gore's criticisms of Bush administration failures to nab key figures in the war on terror. Abd al-Rahim al-Nashiri, an alleged key planner behind the attack that killed 17 U.S. service personnel on the USS Cole in October 2000, was captured and turned over to the CIA. He has been described by U.S. officials as a 15-year associate of Osama bin Laden and a mastermind of attacks at sea. The news came less than three weeks after an unmanned CIA drone blew up al-Qaeda leader Abu Ali Al-Harithi on a highway in Yemen. In Indonesia, the national police chief reported that Imam Samudra, the alleged ringleader of the plot to attack Bali's nightclub district last month, has told investigators he was behind the bombings that killed nearly 200 people. One day after Mr. Samudra, 35, was arrested, the chief said Mr. Samudra also admitted to police that he was involved in a series of church bombings on Christmas Eve 2000, which killed 19.


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