News 'Newsweek' retracts Koran desecration story

russ_watters

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http://www.usatoday.com/news/world/2005-05-16-newsweek-usat_x.htm

Newsweek magazine formally retracted on Monday a story published last week that said U.S. interrogators of Muslim prisoners at Guantanamo Bay desecrated the Koran.

Newsweek's admission of error in publishing the story, which was followed by protests by Muslims around the world and riots that resulted in at least 15 deaths in Afghanistan, came after a day of sharp criticism from the Bush administration.
Honestly - do reporters even consider the ramifications of their actions? Or is everything including, obviously, integrity, and now the value of life itself, secondary to selling magazines/ad space?

I don't want to minimize the deaths caused by this journalistic fraud, but the media's faud, especially lately, appears to be focused on trashing the US. Why is that?

Regardless, this sets a new low - I mean, at least Dan Rather didn't get anyone killed - he just tried to subvert an election. Unbelievable.
 
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plover

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Post Newsweek ergo propter Newsweek?

Newsweek is mostly just being gutless now that the administration is having a hissy fit. Whether or not their particular source knows what he's talking about, the allegation itself isn't news:
Contrary to White House spin, the allegations of religious desecration at Guantanamo published by Newsweek on May 9, 2005, are common among ex-prisoners and have been widely reported outside the United States. Several former detainees at the Guantanamo and Bagram prisons have reported instances of their handlers sitting or standing on the Koran, throwing or kicking it in toilets, and urinating on it. Prior to the Newsweek article, the New York Times reported a Guantanamo insider asserting that the commander of the facility was compelled by prisoner protests to address the problem and issue an apology.

One such incident (during which the Koran was allegedly thrown in a pile and stepped on) prompted a hunger strike among Guantanamo detainees in March 2002. Regarding this, the New York Times in a May 1, 2005, article interviewed a former detainee, Nasser Nijer Naser al-Mutairi, who said the protest ended with a senior officer delivering an apology to the entire camp. And the Times reports: “A former interrogator at Guantanamo, in an interview with the Times, confirmed the accounts of the hunger strikes, including the public expression of regret over the treatment of the Korans.”
Other earlier reports:On http://www.modernprometheus.com/despectaculis/archives/000757.html:
The Newsweek article doesn't tell us anything new, but it clearly provided a trigger. No one is - or should be - taking "Newsweek as the cause of the riots" at face value. There are other reasons for riots right now. As reported in the article from the Times, upcoming elections are one.

Another - that we ignore at our peril - is the increasing pressure on the drug trade. Two surveys released in April suggest poppy cultivation is way down this year. Karzai's government, strongly supported by the UN, Britain, and the US, has led the reduction efforts, which have included both eradication and alternative economic incentives for farmers.

The province of Nangarhar has been the focal point of these plans. The provincial capital is Jalalabad – the city where the riots began this week.

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You can be sure that the Pentagon has followed to stories about what goes on in Guantanamo. You might even reasonably expect our military leaders to keep close track of the conditions at a very high – internationally renowned, even - profile prison. Stories about the desecration of the Koran began surfacing in 2003. Yet the investigation begins after there is violence half a world away. Further, the debunking of the story begins within days after it was used to promote riots – and far too soon for an investigation to be complete.

Why does our military always seem to be reacting and not anticipating? What a way to run a war.

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http://www.careinternational.org.uk/newsroom/media_release.php?id=447 [Broken] also released a report in April about counter-narcotics strategies. They emphasized the need for long-term and sufficient funding. One of CARE's offices was targeted in the rioting.
An Afghan writer told Radio Free Europe that the riots there may have been manipulated:
... the allegations about the Koran -- though serious in themselves -- were an excuse to cause trouble for Karzai's government.

"Jalalabad has a big population, and this issue is a very sensitive religious issue," Yoon said. "Naturally, people get very excited and emotional when it comes to religious issues. It is possible that some people who had a hand in these demonstrations and organized them were aiming to create violence."
or as http://www.needlenose.com/node?from=15&PHPSESSID=9245cacb73c85500790707adf2556920:
Wait, slow down and let me see if I understand this. You mean to say that people are cynically using religion to manipulate the general public into supporting political goals?
Most of the information above I picked up via http://coldfury.com/reason/?p=511 [Broken]).
What I want to emphasize right now is the speed and ambitiousness of the propagandists’ game here. In less than a day, they have targeted all of these issues, using the Newsweek mistake (if indeed it was one) as their freshest ammunition:

— Minimizing to the point of non-existence all abuse and torture at Abu Ghraib

— Minimizing to the point of non-existence all abuse and torture at Guantanamo

— Reinforcing the idea that the mainstream media is not to be trusted on matters of national security, and that it is fundamentally anti-American

— Introducing the idea that “some people” think the media has finally gone “too far,” which carries the unavoidable implication that SOMETHING MUST BE DONE!

[...]

Of course, they “regret” that censorship might be necessary. It’s a terrible shame and all that. But damn it, if magazines like Newsweek ARE GOING TO GET PEOPLE KILLED…well, what can we do? We obviously have to shut them up. They brought it on themselves. It’s their own damned fault. Of course, we’d like to have a free press, but THEY’RE GETTING PEOPLE KILLED!

And please, please don’t say it can’t happen here. It did happen here—during http://coldfury.com/reason/?p=47 [Broken]. They want to go back to the good old days, when people got thrown in jail for reading the Bill of Rights in public.

[...]

I have to admit that I find this goal altogether laughable. Given the media’s craven willingness to allow Bush, et al. to get away with anything—even blatant, repeated lies that led to an entirely unnecessary war (to say nothing of Judith Miller’s propaganda releases from Chalabi dutifully printed by the NYT, injecting fear and paralysis of thought directly into the public’s arteries and gearing everyone up for war against the non-existent threat of Iraq)—I don’t see how much more craven the general media could be. But obviously the hawks’ standards and mine on this question, as on so many others, are hardly the same. So I’m certain that the hawks would greatly prefer that the mainstream media assume a completely supine pose, and remove whatever tiny sliver of spine they have left while they’re at it.
 
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Astronuc

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russ_watters said:
Honestly - do reporters even consider the ramifications of their actions?
Apparently not!

Neither Newsweek nor the Pentagon foresaw that a reference to the desecration of the Koran was going to create the kind of response that it did. The Pentagon saw the item before it ran, and then they didn't move us off it for 11 days afterward. They were as caught off guard by the furor as we were.
attributed to Michael Isikoff, whose article has been blamed for rioting in Pakistan and Afghanistan in which at least 17 people were killed. Is he kidding!? Where has this moron been the last 10 years?

It is blatantly obvious that such an article would do exactly that!

russ_watters said:
I don't want to minimize the deaths caused by this journalistic fraud, but the media's fraud[sic], especially lately, appears to be focused on trashing the US. Why is that?
I think it is just arrogance on part of some in the media, and the drive to sell a story and generate revenue/profit.

russ_watters said:
Regardless, this sets a new low - I mean, at least Dan Rather didn't get anyone killed - he just tried to subvert an election. Unbelievable.
Yes, I would agree.
 

Pengwuino

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That final paragraph make sme wonder about the credibility of all of that post. The media pounds the Bush administration on even the simplest mistakes and even has to make up stuff to get articles to sell that are anti-bush. I have yet to see a mistake by the administration not get plastered on every front page newspaper this side of the LA times. Even scholarly studies showed there was 2x as many negative articles printed during the months up to the election against Bush then there were against Kerry. Plus democrat voter fraud went absolutely un-noticed such as this case.... http://www.ac4vr.com/news/acvrnews032105.html [Broken] . How exactly is there a blatant media bias in favor of Bush anyhow? Ive never actually been at a place where i could ask and actually expect an intelligent answer.
 
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SOS2008

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It's a difficult balance to maintain a "free press" and at the same time having a media that will not jeopordize national security, or in this case, a media showing lack of judgement with regard to a volatile political environment.

However, an anti-Arab/Islam sentiment does exit, and insensitivity of such kind seems quite plausible, especially in view of other reports in this vein that have been substantiated. With regard to the role of a free press in a democracy, it is disconcerting that the story was retracted due to pressure by the Bush administration.

Was the story true? Probably. Should the story have been printed? No. But maybe there is a problem of racism, and maybe there should be concern about checks and balances in our country (i.e., the watch dog role of the press).
 

plover

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Astronuc said:
It is blatantly obvious that such an article would do exactly that!
Then why did none of the earlier articles cited in my post above do it? The Newsweek story was actually the third report of the incident in a major English language source this month. References to a May 1 New York Times story and a May 2 BBC story can be found here. The same source also notes a report in a French language Moroccan paper from April, and has other references going back to 2003. And people want to blame this on Newsweek rather than the people responsible for Camp X-Ray? Just because Americans may be unaware of what's been reported by released Gitmo detainees, that doesn't mean Muslims around the world are similarly unaware. And just because an agitator in Jalalabad chose this particular detail from Newsweek to use as a rallying cry – one which he could just as easily have found in other publications – doesn't make Newsweek responsible for his actions. I would certainly agree that there is very little in the way of thoughtlessness and venality that the press had hasn't sunk to at some point, I just think that ascribing this particular situation to that kind of cause almost certainly obscures what the real dynamics being played out may be.
 

russ_watters

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plover - perhaps no one believed the prisoners. They don't exactly make the most credibile witnesses, and even terrorists know that. The Newsweek story supposedly came from a government source.
 
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Q: Do either one of you have anything about the demonstrations in Afghanistan, which were apparently sparked by reports that there was a lack of respect by some interrogators at Guantanamo for the Koran. Do either one of you have anything to say about that?

GEN. MYERS: It's the -- it's a judgment of our commander in Afghanistan, General Eikenberry, that in fact the violence that we saw in Jalalabad was not necessarily the result of the allegations about disrespect for the Koran -- and I'll get to that in just a minute -- but more tied up in the political process and the reconciliation process that President Karzai and his Cabinet is conducting in Afghanistan. So that's -- that was his judgment today in an after- action of that violence. He didn't -- he thought it was not at all tied to the article in the magazine.

http://www.defenselink.mil/transcripts/2005/tr20050512-secdef2761.html
:uhh:

Michael Isikoff-When reporter Michael Isikoff brought the Paula Jones sexual-harassment case to his editors at the Washington Post, they refused to run the story. So he quit and joined Newsweek. There he broke the Monica Lewinsky story in January 1998. After the maelstrom settled, Isikoff wrote a book about his pursuit of the Lewinsky story, called Uncovering Clinton: A Reporter's Story. According to one review: "Isikoff gives more attention to the supposedly distinguishing characteristics of the presidential penis than to a serious examination of Starr's many probes."

http://www.nndb.com/people/859/000043730/



:uhh:
 
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This rag did the same thing as yelling fire in a crowded theatre. When are they going to hold some of these media airheads accountable for the consequences others pay for their actions.
 
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Pengwuino

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SOS2008 said:
However, an anti-Arab/Islam sentiment does exit, and insensitivity of such kind seems quite plausible, especially in view of other reports in this vein that have been substantiated. With regard to the role of a free press in a democracy, it is disconcerting that the story was retracted due to pressure by the Bush administration.

Was the story true? Probably. Should the story have been printed? No. But maybe there is a problem of racism, and maybe there should be concern about checks and balances in our country (i.e., the watch dog role of the press).
Soldiers from the front lines in afghanistan are even psised off because it was relatively peaceful there until all of a sudden, this newsweek story came out (which makes me wonder how true all the other things being said in thsi thread are; supposedly this isnt the first news of this happening yet this is the first time some action was taken in the form of a riot...) and effectively, in their own words, ruined years of struggling for the US military to establish a peace. And no it wasnt retracted because of the bush administration unless you can actually bring some evidence of it. And no, the story for all intensive purposes, was false because no one can be sourced for it. This is a science forum, its like saying "oh aliens have to exist! who cares if the sources are fake/not credible". We rely on facts, we dont just go with what we want to believe right?
 
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Pengwuino said:
Soldiers from the front lines in afghanistan are even psised off because it was relatively peaceful there until all of a sudden, this newsweek story came out (which makes me wonder how true all the other things being said in thsi thread are; supposedly this isnt the first news of this happening yet this is the first time some action was taken in the form of a riot...) and effectively, in their own words, ruined years of struggling for the US military to establish a peace. And no it wasnt retracted because of the bush administration unless you can actually bring some evidence of it. And no, the story for all intensive purposes, was false because no one can be sourced for it. This is a science forum, its like saying "oh aliens have to exist! who cares if the sources are fake/not credible". We rely on facts, we dont just go with what we want to believe right?
Not according to General Myers!

Yeah, like 'Newsweek' has such a large circulation in the M.E.!?! :rolleyes:
 
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It's simplistic to think a single story like this set the ball rolling. There are deeper issues here, and I find it funny(scary funny not haha funny) that the issues surrounding the events are taking a back seat to a sensational story. I find it more percular that well educated people immediatly blame the story rather than ask "why would one story like this cause mass rioting?"

This is a fundamental flaw with todays American culture in that people don't want to look past the yellow journalism spread by the likes of Fox and MSNBC and CNN or any of the other 'news' sources. Well, maybe not 'yellow' but defenitly egg shell. I mean just watch your local news and see how many stories of substance you get versus the scare and shake "is your child in danger? The truth about dihydrogen monoxide tonight at 11!!!" stories. It's disgusting to say the least.

Well, I'm getting off of my soap box here in a bit. One story does not a crumbeling Middle East make. To think that requires that you share a box with Marcel Marceau, isolated from reality. The reality being political and social issues coupled with a US backed dictator(good or bad) does not bode well for anyone.

My thoughts not yours.

[edit]I'd like to add that the current trend of thinking in dichotomies--good and evil, black and white, sausage or bacon---is as distressful to me as the yellow journalism rampant today. The world is filled with shades of gray and this issue is a perfect example of latching onto the black while the problem lives in the gray.
 
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plover

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Pengwuino said:
That final paragraph make sme wonder about the credibility of all of that post. The media pounds the Bush administration on even the simplest mistakes and even has to make up stuff to get articles to sell that are anti-bush. I have yet to see a mistake by the administration not get plastered on every front page newspaper this side of the LA times. Even scholarly studies showed there was 2x as many negative articles printed during the months up to the election against Bush then there were against Kerry. Plus democrat voter fraud went absolutely un-noticed such as this case.... http://www.ac4vr.com/news/acvrnews032105.html [Broken] . How exactly is there a blatant media bias in favor of Bush anyhow? Ive never actually been at a place where i could ask and actually expect an intelligent answer.
One bit of context to keep in mind perhaps: Silber is a hardcore libertarian of some stripe or other. I haven't read a lot by him, but I've read enough to know that he has no love of liberals, and that he takes a very strong stance on free speech and free press. From what I've read of your posts, my guess has been (and of course I could be wrong) that your politics are fairly close to libertarianism. If I'm right, then it seems to me your curiosity might be well served by a look around Silber's site – I would guess that he provides an articulate case for why some people are upset at the media's treatment of Bush from a standpoint that you might be sympathetic to (whether or not you agree with him in the end).

One thing I might add is that, in the paragraph you refer to, Silber is claiming that the media gives Bush a pass, but he says nothing about who else they may or may not be doing that for. Also, I would say that for mainstream sources his criticism focuses (as would my own) on their cowardice and incompetence rather than bias per se.

When you refer to 'the credibility of all of that post', I'm not sure whether you're referring to my post or the one I'm quoting, but in any case, I think the important point for the current topic is that the idea that the deaths in Afghanistan have much to do with Newsweek, or American media in general, requires ignoring a lot of the available evidence and discounting the complexity of public sentiment and activism in other countries. Discussions extending from that (such as the quote I ended with) are secondary.
 
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SOS2008

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Pengwuino said:
...ruined years of struggling for the US military to establish a peace.
http://transcripts.cnn.com/TRANSCRIPTS/0505/17/ldt.01.html

Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld...saying that people had died because of the "Newsweek" article, even as Pentagon officials conceded that there was evidence the protests would have happened anyway.
Pengwuino said:
...And no it wasnt retracted because of the bush administration unless you can actually bring some evidence of it.
http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/7864705/

White House slams media role in Quran furor
Newsweek at first apologized for its story and then retracted it under heavy pressure from the administration.
Pengwuino said:
...This is a science forum, its like saying "oh aliens have to exist! who cares if the sources are fake/not credible". We rely on facts, we dont just go with what we want to believe right?
Who is "we" that "don't just go with what we want to believe," and who provides sources to back up our comments? If you would take time to read various news stories/sources, and then provide quotes/links, it would be helpful.
 
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Just wondering, whom exactly was killed in these riots? Were Americans in Afghanistan killed in a deliberate act intended to be a retaliation for America's alleged disrespect for the Koran, or was it more like people who were participating in the riot were killed by general riot actions?
 

Pengwuino

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Im sorry but people from the front line said it was entirely that articles fault that caused the riot. You believe some news story if you want.

http://austinbay.net/blog/index.php?p=323 [Broken]

I’m on my way back to Kabul, as I typically do every summer, but my family is completely opposed to my travel and work this year in Afghanistan even though I’ve safely transited there, in and out of State and UN/NGO service for nearly 20 years. The word I receive from Kabuli friends is that Isikoff has singlehandedly turned US triumph in the country to a total disaster. It was thought an anamoly last summer that some wonderful–and tragically forgotten–American DynCorps workers (mostly ex-military and my good friends) were killed in an environment that was pro-American to the core. That could be seen as a terrible tragedy, an unreasonable sad event impinging on an overall positive atmosphere–a last ditch effort by desperate Al Qa’eda remnants from outside Afghanistan to vent anger at the overwhelming success of the Americans. Now thanks to one Bush-hating reporter (google Isikoff if you doubt his intentions,) the recidivist Taliban-Pathans of southeast Afghanistan once again have an issue to de-legitimize the Karzai-US alliance. This is a disaster perpetrated by a single reckless reporter…will he ever be required to answer for his sins? Fifteen dead so far…how many more? The streets of Afghanistan, just days ago filled with pro-American citizens, are now roiled with hatred. What has Newsweek wrought? Who will call Isikoff to answer in courts or Congress for his destruction of an important alliance? GW…it’s time for you to step up to the plate and talk directly about this issue, this renegade journalist, to both the American public and the Afghan people.
Theres one reaction from someone who might know a little more about the situation

Plus that article does actually prove your point but theres still something you really miss. They would have re-tracted it anyways since they had obviously killed people by publishing it. You think they wouldn't have taken it back if the administration said nothing? as if people would stand for false reporting? Which it is of course. This still all of course amounts to nothing because teh fact of the matter is that they used a single source (big no-no in journalism) and didnt check it and now your trying to defend the magazine telling everyone about it.
 
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Pengwuino

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plover said:
When you refer to 'the credibility of all of that post', I'm not sure whether you're referring to my post or the one I'm quoting, but in any case, I think the important point for the current topic is that the idea that the deaths in Afghanistan have much to do with Newsweek, or American media in general, requires ignoring a lot of the available evidence and discounting the complexity of public sentiment and activism in other countries. Discussions extending from that (such as the quote I ended with) are secondary.
I meant the one being quoted... definitely should have made that more clearer, sorry.
 

SOS2008

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russ_watters said:
Regardless, this sets a new low - I mean, at least Dan Rather didn't get anyone killed - he just tried to subvert an election. Unbelievable.
Here is another topic that seems to be repeated. In an earlier and/or other threads I've shown: 1) That the story about Bush not completing his obligation in the National Guard was substantiated by other news sources (and though the "memo" could not be proven valid, it could not be proven invalid either); 2) That the statistics showing a larger number of stories about Bush and the Guard were mostly about Dan Rather and apologies thereof; 3) That the unsubstantiated stories by the "Swifties" about Kerry's military service had more effect in subverting the election in Bush's direction (who won?).
 
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Pengwuino

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Well since Kerry never actually released his military records as promised, theres no proof that the swift boat whatevers were lieing. I mean... its a simple form for someone in that kind of situation (running for prez)... if you dont havea nything to hide... get my drift ;) lol i dunno, elections are dumb, democracy blows, too much work to do :D. Theres also many other sources that came out saying Bush had done his service and didnt do anything bad enough to warrant any real investigation by superiors.
 
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russ_watters

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SOS2008 said:
Here is another topic that seems to be repeated. In an earlier and/or other threads I've shown: 1) That the story about Bush not completing his obligation in the National Guard was substantiated by other news sources (and though the "memo" could not be proven valid, it could not be proven invalid either); 2) That the statistics showing a larger number of stories about Bush and the Guard were mostly about Dan Rather and apologies thereof; 3) That the unsubstantiated stories by the "Swifties" about Kerry's military service had more effect in subverting the election in Bush's direction (who won?).
And what part of that changes the fact that Rather's story was fabricated and intended to swing the election?

btw, SOS - pot/kettle: I agree with people who think it was wrong for Bush to manipulate the evidence regarding Iraq - so why is it ok for Dan Rather (and now Newsweek) to manipulate evidence regarding Bush?
 
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plover

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russ_watters said:
plover - perhaps no one believed the prisoners. They don't exactly make the most credibile witnesses, and even terrorists know that. The Newsweek story supposedly came from a government sourc.
The NYT story (http://truthout.org/docs_2005/050105D.shtml [Broken] not behind their toll gate) says that "a former interrogator at Guantanamo" confirmed the story of the detainee they interviewed. For the purpose of fomenting riots, their unnamed source is just as credible (so to speak) as Newsweek's. And it seems unlikely that significantly more Afghanis read Newsweek than the NYT or that the Afghanis who read Newsweek are more likely to start riots.

However, it also seems that the antiwar.com article was badly edited. The incident as reported in the NYT was "a protest of guards' handling of copies of the Koran, which had been tossed into a pile and stepped on", which makes more sense than the weird and euphemistic sounding phrase in the quote I included. Juan Cole's judgement of the circumstances reported in the NYT versus the incident in Newsweek:
I don't think the crowds protesting in Afghanistan and Pakistan would be less outraged by US soldiers stomping on the Koran on the floor.
To put this in context: the simple distribution of Qu'rans to detainees has often become an issue as apparently there are problems with non-Muslims even touching them under some circumstances (nothing I've seen so far has clarified the arcana of this though).

Sgt. Erik Saar, an Army Intelligence linguist who worked as a translator at Guantánamo, is the co-author of a new book, Inside the Wire, about his experiences there. He doesn't say anything about any incidents of flushing Qu'rans but does report that religiously motivated humiliations visited on prisoners were quite pervasive. A Christian Science Monitor article has some details:
Army Sgt. Erik Saar couldn't wait to get to Guantánamo Bay to help ferret information from the terrorists being held there. When the intelligence linguist arrived, however, he was startled to hear the Muslim call to prayer. Why, he wondered, would America make such a "concession to the religious zealotry" of the detainees?

Yet as he worked as an interpreter in the cell blocks and interrogation rooms, Sergeant Saar's attitude changed. Methods that demeaned Islamic beliefs and tried to make detainees feel separate from God struck him as counterproductive. They not only failed to produce information, he says, but also fueled the sense there and abroad that the US is at war with Islam.

"We say we're trying to win the hearts and minds of Muslim people around the world, yet they can see we are using their religion against them," says Saar in a phone interview. "I don't think that's in line with our values."

[...]

How America employs religion in interrogation strategy holds long-term consequences for its struggle against terrorism and for relations with the Muslim world, critics say. "The people doing the interrogating [at Guantánamo] know nothing about Islam and not much about interrogation.... You couldn't have a greater recipe for failure," says Col. Patrick Lang, former head of military intelligence at the Defense Intelligence Agency, and an expert on the Middle East.

[...]

In his book, Saar describes a tumultuous atmosphere made more intense than usual because of religious tensions. US personnel, he wrote, routinely tempted detainees to look at pornographic magazines and videos, which Islam forbids. Female interrogators, sometimes dressed provocatively, violated Islamic strictures by rubbing against detainees and even leading one to believe he was being wiped with menstrual blood.

"Had someone come to me before I left for Gitmo and told me we would use women to sexually torment detainees to try to sever their relationships with God, I probably would have thought that sounded fine," writes Saar. "But I hated myself when I walked out of that room.... We lost the high road.... There wasn't enough hot water in all of Cuba to make me feel clean."

[...]

"The best way to build a relationship is to speak to that person's identity and values," says Chris Seiple, who heads the Institute for Global Engagement, a think tank dealing with faith and international security. "Instead of using Islamic culture to demean them, take Islam as a faith to defang the principles that condone terrorism. Islamic theology must be a component in building the relationship."

Saar tells of an interrogator from a nonmilitary agency who engaged a detainee on that basis. While the detainee refused to talk about Islam with the woman, he responded to questions put through Saar, eager to discuss his beliefs and where they led him. From then on, he talked more readily.

The linguist lost his enthusiasm for the Guantánamo mission, he says, because the situation was in sharp contrast to public perception. "I thought these were 'the worst of the worst' hardened terrorists, but I soon realized many didn't fit that category, not only by talking to detainees, but by having access to intelligence which said that," he says.

[...]

A conservative Evangelical, Saar says he can't reconcile what he's seen with his own faith. Others in that Christian community, however, have called him unpatriotic for criticizing US interrogation practices.
Saar's book was vetted by the Army, which implies they are not contesting his story. They are also investigating his allegations.

Anyway, whether or not "the terrorists" think released detainees are reliable witnesses, popular opinion in any country is rarely fastidious about these things. If these demonstrations were a spontaneous popular reaction to these particular issues, they would most likely have happened a long time ago. If the demonstrations were engineered, however, then there are any number of things agitators could have used as a material to provoke a crowd.

The blogger Riverbend, a secular Iraqi woman in Baghdad, has this to say:
We've been watching the protests about the Newsweek article with interest. I’m not surprised at the turnout at these protests- the thousands of Muslims angry at the desecration of the Quran. What did surprise me was the collective shock that seems to have struck the Islamic world like a slap in the face. How is this shocking? It's terrible and disturbing in the extreme- but how is it shocking? After what happened in Abu Ghraib and other Iraqi prisons how is this astonishing? American jailers in Afghanistan and Iraq have shown little respect for human life and dignity- why should they be expected to respect a holy book? [...]

Now Newsweek have retracted the story- obviously under pressure from the White House. Is it true? Probably… We've seen enough blatant disregard and disrespect for Islam in Iraq the last two years to make this story sound very plausible. On a daily basis, mosques are raided, clerics are dragged away with bags over their heads… Several months ago the world witnessed the execution of an unarmed Iraqi prisoner inside a mosque. Is this latest so very surprising?

Detainees coming back after weeks or months in prison talk of being forced to eat pork, not being allowed to pray, being exposed to dogs, having Islam insulted and generally being treated like animals trapped in a small cage. At the end of the day, it's not about words or holy books or pork or dogs or any of that. It's about what these things symbolize on a personal level. It is infuriating to see objects that we hold sacred degraded and debased by foreigners who felt the need to travel thousands of kilometers to do this. That's not to say that all troops disrespect Islam- some of them seem to genuinely want to understand our beliefs. It does seem like the people in charge have decided to make degradation and humiliation a policy.

By doing such things, this war is taken to another level- it is no longer a war against terror or terrorists- it is, quite simply, a war against Islam and even secular Muslims are being forced to take sides.
It is interesting to put these observations alongside her reactions to Abu Ghraib from a year ago.
 
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Pengwuino

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All the crap ive heard coming from US personel at Gitmo about the **** the prisoners do makes me think a lot of this crap is just back and forth mudslinging. Unfortunately the media just ignores when military personel tell of having feces thrown at them and being attacked at the base. And why dont we ever hear about when Christian religious symbols are desecrated? Such as... http://www.worldnetdaily.com/news/article.asp?article_id=44324

What a horrible media we have.
 
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You're as bad as they are Pengwuino.
 

Pengwuino

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And i did... what?
 

plover

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Pengwuino said:
Im sorry but people from the front line said it was entirely that articles fault that caused the riot. You believe some news story if you want.

[...]

Theres one reaction from someone who might know a little more about the situation
Right, so the post you're quoting says what isn't in dispute: that some people involved in the riots invoked the Newsweek article, and that this has ended up becoming the prevailing explanation for them. I would guess from context that this person's contacts were probably not involved in any demonstrations, and are reporting what they've heard – without more detail it's impossible to know. I would contrast this with the http://www.defenselink.mil/transcripts/2005/tr20050512-secdef2761.html (also quoted by polyb above) concerning what someone else on the front lines has to say:
It's the -- it's a judgment of our commander in Afghanistan, General Eikenberry, that in fact the violence that we saw in Jalalabad was not necessarily the result of the allegations about disrespect for the Koran -- and I'll get to that in just a minute -- but more tied up in the political process and the reconciliation process that President Karzai and his Cabinet is conducting in Afghanistan. So that's -- that was his judgment today in an after- action of that violence. He didn't -- he thought it was not at all tied to the article in the magazine.
I would imagine that Gen. Eikenberry has an established local intelligence network to contribute to such assessments.
Pengwuino said:
Plus that article does actually prove your point but theres still something you really miss. They would have re-tracted it anyways since they had obviously killed people by publishing it.
Actually, I thought I was arguing that it is precisely that that wasn't obvious.
You think they wouldn't have taken it back if the administration said nothing?
That's a different question. The circumstances certainly make a clarification or retraction even more imperative than with most stories. That's just normal journalistic integrity – it's a separate issue from blaming Newsweek for deaths.
as if people would stand for false reporting? Which it is of course.
Is it? How do you know? Not that I would argue it's true either. The patterns of what is well established to have taken place in US detention centers make it plausible (see e.g. the article about Erik Saar quoted in my previous post), but there's no solid proof.
This still all of course amounts to nothing because teh fact of the matter is that they used a single source (big no-no in journalism) and didnt check it and now your trying to defend the magazine telling everyone about it.
I'm not defending Newsweek's journalism. I'm saying that, given the state of what we know, condemning Newsweek for deaths in Afghanistan is a post hoc argument built on shaky inferences. I'm also saying that the issue of the truth of Newsweek's claim and the issue of any connection between that claim and the Afghan demonstrations need to be disentangled to reduce confusion. Those are the substantive bits anyway. There's a practical issue here too which could be mentioned: whether or not some appropriately chosen person at Newsweek (or in the government) falling on their sword would produce any meaningful healing of the breach with the Afghanis. It's not at all clear that it would, but it's almost certainly worth considering, whatever the underlying truth of the situation.

As for Newsweek's journalism: single sourcing serious allegations? Bad idea. Not much to argue about there. Perhaps, they went ahead with it because the source originally said the incident was mentioned in a forthcoming Southern Command report – if so, obviously not a good call.

Their attempts at retraction are also a bit muddy. Juan Cole wrote on Monday:
http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/7857407/site/newsweek/page/2/ [Broken] in response to Pentagon queries,
"On Saturday, Isikoff spoke to his original source, the senior government official, who said that he clearly recalled reading investigative reports about mishandling the Qur'an, including a toilet incident. But the official, still speaking anonymously, could no longer be sure that these concerns had surfaced in the SouthCom report."
Isikoff's source, in other words, stands by his report of the incident, but is merely tracing it to other paperwork. What difference does that make? Although Pentagon spokesman Lawrence DiRita angrily denounced the source as no longer credible, in the real world you can't just get rid of a witness because the person made a minor mistake with regard to a text citation.
and followed up Tuesday:
It is being yet again alleged that Newsweek has formally retracted the Guantanamo Koran desecration story, under enormous pressure from the White House. But here is what exactly the magazine's statement said:
"Based on what we know now, we are retracting our original story that an internal military investigation had uncovered Koran abuse at Guantanamo Bay," Newsweek Editor Mark Whitaker said in a statement issued here.'
So far this is the same "retraction" as Sunday's, which is that they were wrong to source the story of Koran desecration to a forthcoming Southern Command white paper on Guantanamo. It says nothing about whether the Koran desecration occurred, or whether their government source accurately reported seeing a US government text documenting it.

But then there is this:
' As it turned out, Newsweek now says, there was one source. And Whitaker said that because that source had "backed away" from his original account, the magazine could "no longer stand by" it. "I did not want to be in the position of splitting hairs," Whitaker said, "to look like we were being evasive or not fully forthcoming." '
Well, I find this still not fully forthcoming. What account is Whitaker backing away from? That there was Koran desecration? Or that the SouthCom report would mention it?
So, what are they really trying to say? Is the source backing off his statement or just confused about where he read it? Is Newsweek backing off its statement or not? Whatever it is, given the circumstances, they do need to stop dancing around making themselves look like irresponsible asses.
 
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