The Facts Machine

"And I come back to you now, at the turn of the tide"

Wednesday, May 25, 2005

THERE YOU HAVE IT

Newsweek may have screwed up on its sourcing, but the thrust of their story was right: Gitmo guards did flush a Koran down a toilet:
An FBI agent wrote in a 2002 document made public on Wednesday that a detainee held at the U.S. naval base at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, had accused American jailers there of flushing the Koran down a toilet.

The Pentagon said the allegation was not credible.

The declassified document's release came the week after the Bush administration denounced as wrong a May 9 Newsweek article that stated U.S. interrogators at Guantanamo had flushed a Koran down a toilet to try to make detainees talk. The magazine retracted the article, which had triggered protests in
Afghanistan in which 16 people died.

The newly released document, dated Aug. 1, 2002, contained a summary of statements made days earlier by a detainee, whose name was redacted, in two interviews with an FBI special agent, whose name also was withheld, at the Guantanamo prison for foreign terrorism suspects.
While Reuters drank the Kool Aid a little bit there ("triggered protests"), their recap includes some more info about our victory in the "war of ideas":
The documents indicated that detainees were making allegations that they had been abused and that the Muslim holy book had been mishandled as early as April 2002, about three months after the first detainees arrived at Guantanamo.

In other documents, FBI agents stated that Guantanamo detainees also accused U.S. personnel of kicking the Koran and throwing it to the floor, and described beatings by guards. But one document cited a detainee who accused a guard of dropping a Koran, prompting an "uprising" by prisoners, when it was the prisoner himself who dropped it.

"Unfortunately, one thing we've learned over the last couple of years is that detainee statements about their treatment at Guantanamo and other detention centers sometimes have turned out to be more credible than U.S. government statements," said ACLU lawyer Jameel Jaffer.

Former detainees and a lawyer for current prisoners previously have stated that U.S. personnel at Guantanamo had placed the Koran in a toilet, but the Pentagon has said it also does not view those allegations as credible.

In document written in April 2003, an FBI agent related a detainee's account of an incident involving a female U.S. interrogator.

"While the guards held him, she removed her blouse, embraced the detainee from behind and put her hand on his genitals. The interrogator was on her menstrual period and she wiped blood from her body on his face and head," the memo stated.
Ahh, how about those hearts and minds. To anyone who would think of justifying this stuff: Anything and everything we do in the "war on terror" should be done with the foreknowledge that someday it could come out, and were it to come out, it could be damaging to our effort to convince a billion people in many parts of the world that we're right. The blame is never on Newsweek, Seymour Hersh or any other journalist for attempting to break and cover these stories. The fact that people report them should be an impetus for our government to get right.

This should make tomorrow's gaggle interesting.

Also, I meant to link to this when he wrote it, but somehow I got backed up: A couple days ago, John Cole put Hugh Hewitt in his place on the issue of whether the media should or shouldn't cover stuff like this. Cole is a Vet, also. And that's John, not Juan.

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