Must reads

It’s the Sunday before Sept. 11, so it’s no surprise to start seeing coverage of the two-year anniversary of the attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon. In perhaps the most hard-hitting anniversary coverage, the Post runs two superb A1 stories, one on al-Qaida regrouping in Iraq, and the other examining holes in the Department of Homeland Security.

According to the WP, al-Qaida began planning their new front in Iraq in February. Since then, anywhere from 1,000 to several thousand foreign fighters have entered the country through Iraq’s borders with Iran, Saudi Arabia, and Syria. While its tricky-to-track borders (mountainous, unmarked) provide AQ members and sympathetic radicals the ease to travel into the country, the American occupation gives them a reinvigorated reason to make the trip. Based on interviews with European, American, and Arab intelligence sources, this story is a must-read.

The Department of Homeland Security, spawned by the attacks of two years ago, is now “hobbled by money woes, disorganization, turf battles and unsteady support from the White House,” the WP says. Some of the problems belying the 6-month-old agency: The top two officials under Homeland Security Secretary Tom Ridge are resigning; the department’s headquarters are cramped and ill-equipped; its budget is too small; it has trouble luring talented staffers; support from the White House is lukewarm. “Not a lot is getting done at the top of the department,” an anonymous White House official tells the paper. “Nobody’s got the fortitude to say, ‘Sit down and shut up.’ … It’s sad.”

From Slate’s Today’s Papers