Monday, May 23, 2005
On this day:

Criminals Running the Jail

The mainstream media's latest second guessing of the military turns out to be (!) wrong. MSNBC: The Qur'an Question -- In 31,000 documents the Pentagon has reviewed, there are allegations, but Defense says none is substantiated By Evan Thomas and Michael Isikoff
In fewer than a dozen log entries from the 31,000 documents reviewed so far, said Di Rita, there is a mention of detainees' complaining that guards or interrogators mishandled their Qur'ans. In one case, a female guard allegedly knocked a Qur'an from its pouch onto the detainee's bed. In another alleged case, said Di Rita, detainees became upset after two MPs, looking for contraband, felt the pouch containing a prisoner's Qur'an. While questioning a detainee, an interrogator allegedly put a Qur'an on top of a TV set, took it off when the detainee complained, then put it back on. In another alleged instance, guards somehow sprayed water on a detainee's Qur'an. This handful of alleged cases came out of thousands of daily interactions between guards and prisoners, said Di Rita. None has been substantiated yet, he said. In December 2002, a guard inadvertently knocked a Qur'an from its pouch onto the floor of a detainee's cell, Di Rita said. A number of detainees protested. That January, partly in response to the incident and partly to provide precise guidelines for new guards and interrogators, the Guantanamo commanders issued precise rules to respect the "cultural dignity of the Koran thereby reducing the friction over the searching of the Korans." Only chaplains or Muslim interpreters were allowed to inspect detainees' Qur'ans. "Two hands will be used at all times when handling Korans in a manner signaling respect and reverence," the rules state. "Ensure that the Koran is not placed in offensive areas such as the floor, near the toilet or sink, near the feet, or dirty/wet areas..."
[Emphasis mine.] If they valued the Quran so much, why are they in custody in the first place? Speaking of Newsweek, they offer us some thoughts on their bogus Quran story:
Let me assure both our readers and our staffers that NEWSWEEK remains every bit as committed to honest, independent and accurate reporting as we always have been. In this case, however, we got an important story wrong, and honor requires us to admit our mistake and redouble our efforts to make sure that nothing like this ever happens again. One of the frustrating aspects of our initial inquiry is that we seem to have taken so many appropriate steps in reporting the Guantanamo story. On the basis of what we know now, I've seen nothing to suggest that our people acted unethically or unprofessionally. Veteran reporter Michael Isikoff relied on a well-placed and historically reliable government source. [Who is that source?] We sought comment from one military spokesman (he declined) and provided the entire story to a senior Defense Department official, who disputed one assertion (which we changed) and said nothing about the charge of abusing the Qur'an. Had he objected to the allegations, I am confident that we would have at the very least revised the item, but we mistakenly took the official's silence for confirmation. It now seems clear that we didn't know enough or do enough before publication, and if our traditional procedures did not prevent the mistake, then it is time to clarify and strengthen a number of our policies.