Voice in the Wilderness

The news about the "war on terror" your local newspaper won't print.

Friday, May 20, 2005

Red Cross: Korans Were "Mishandled"

The bashing of Newsweek continues unabated.

"Newsweek has driven another nail into the coffin being built to carry the remains of mainstream journalism's credibility," bleats the Eugene Register-Guard. Martin Peretz, editor-in-chief of The New Republic, in a column: "All of Newsweek's penitential protestations notwithstanding, what emerges from this episode is the image of a profession that is complacent, self-righteous, and hopelessly in love with itself." Adds Rosabeth Moss Kanter, a Harvard Business School professor, in a Miami Herald column: "Newsweek editors . . . you might be right in the essence of your story, but you were nailed on one detail. Unfortunately, that detail was implicated in riots that caused 17 deaths in the Muslim world."

Hold it! Say what? "You might be right . . ."? But because you didn't get "official confirmation" from a source, this was an unconscionable miscarriage of journalism?

Before everyone gets caught up in the self-righteousness coming from the Administration's apologists, let's be sure we all understand one thing: Newsweek got it right! U.S. military personnel have been treating the Koran -- a book Muslims regard with supreme sanctity -- worse than a three-day-old newspaper on a subway car.

How do we know this? For one thing, the International Red Cross told the Pentagon so. According to a spokesman, the organization had "credible information about U.S. personnel disrespecting or mishandling Korans at the Guantanamo Bay detention facility and pointed it out to the Pentagon in confidential reports during 2002 and early 2003." The Knight-Ridder story goes on:
Asked about the ICRC's confidential reports Wednesday night, Bryan Whitman, a Pentagon spokesman, confirmed their existence but sought to downplay the seriousness of their content. He said they were forwarded "on rare occasions" and called them "detainee allegations which they [the ICRC] could not corroborate."

But that is not how [Simon] Schorno, the ICRC spokesman, portrayed the reports.

"All information we received were corroborated allegations," he said, adding, "We certainly corroborated mentions of the events by detainees themselves."

Does this not seem to suggest that these same types of incidents, which Newsweek has been castigated for reporting on, did, in fact, occur?

The trumpeting and chest-pounding is obscuring a troubling fact: Americans are abusing so-called "terrorist suspects." The New York Times published an article Friday that detailed the abuse and what can only be called torture of prisoners in Afghanistan:
In sworn statements to Army investigators, soldiers describe one female interrogator with a taste for humiliation stepping on the neck of one prostrate detainee and kicking another in the genitals. They tell of a shackled prisoner being forced to roll back and forth on the floor of a cell, kissing the boots of his two interrogators as he went. Yet another prisoner is made to pick plastic bottle caps out of a drum mixed with excrement and water as part of a strategy to soften him up for questioning.
This is not a fairy tale or some half-cocked attempt by the "liberal media" to undermine our troops. This is, at long last, an enterprising attempt by the watchdogs of our society to educate the American public about what our policy-makers are allowing to occur in the name of keeping us safe from terrorism. Now go ahead -- find these stories in your local paper.

That Newsweek booted a ground ball by not collecting the ultimate confirmation of its sources is irrelevant. There is an awful lot of bad karma going on where "suspected terrorists" are being held.


  • At 7:56 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    What cost Dan Rather his job, and NEWSWEEK an apology, was telling the truth. These are dire times, indeed.


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