Morning Report 5/16/05 Newsweek, Flushed With Embarrassment, Pens ‘Dear John’ Note


But the Koran-in-toilet tale isn’t the only septic anti-Muslim behavior seen by U.S. personnel

Staff Sgt. Stephan Lewald/U.S. Army


Home away from home: A “detention unit” at Guantánamo Bay’s Camp Delta, showing bed, prayer rug, and other comfort items (left), sink (right), and toilet (center). Koran not shown.


Newsweek‘s little item earlier this month about U.S. soldiers’ supposedly throwing a prisoner’s Koran into a GITMO toilet just went down the drain. But the Pentagon’s self-righteous protests can also be eliminated.

And the fact is that there have been other abuses reported not just by detainees about U.S. soldiers’ anti-Islam behavior—like wrapping a Muslim detainee in an Israeli flag, which I wrote about last December.

Mark Whitaker, Newsweek‘s editor, explaining why the mag went with the original story, says:

Although other major news organizations had aired charges of Qur’an desecration based only on the testimony of detainees, we believed our story was newsworthy because a U.S. official said government investigators turned up this evidence. So we published the item.

Then it turned out that the anonymous official who told Newsweek the tale started pedaling the other way. That gave the Pentagon an excuse to get all huffy. In this morning’s New York Times, for instance, Katherine Q. Seelye writes:

Pentagon officials said that no such information was included in the internal report and responded to Newsweek‘s apology with unusual anger.

In a statement, Bryan Whitman, a Pentagon spokesman, said: “Newsweek hid behind anonymous sources, which by their own admission do not withstand scrutiny. Unfortunately, they cannot retract the damage they have done to this nation or those that were viciously attacked by those false allegations.”

The original account, he said, was “demonstrably false” and “was irresponsible and had significant consequences that reverberated throughout Muslim communities around the world.”

Now the Pentagon’s civilian officials, who constantly wrap themselves in the U.S. flag during this Crusades epoch, are talking about “consequences”?

Let’s talk about another flag-wrapping drill carried out by the Pentagon: Take a Muslim prisoner, wrap him in an Israeli flag (no religious overtones there, right?), and blast him with rock music and strobe lights.

Read it for yourself at the ACLU’s Torture FOIA page—an FBI agent filed this report last summer:

Following a detainee interview exact date unknown, while leaving the interview building at Camp Delta at approximately 8:30 p.m. or later, I heard and observed in the hallway loud music and flashes of light. … From the monitoring room, I looked inside the adjacent interview room. At that time I saw another detainee sitting on the floor of the interview room with an Israeli flag draped around him, loud music being played, and a strobe light flashing. … I understood prior to deployment to [GITMO] that such techniques were not allowed, nor approved by FBI policy. …

At least not until somebody at GITMO got their hands on a disco version of “Hava Nagila.”