Monday, May 16, 2005

What The Hell Is Going On Here?

Today's special:

The Pentagon has attacked as "irresponsible" an article in Newsweek magazine alleging that U.S. military interrogators desecrated copies of the Quran, and accused the magazine of "hiding behind" anonymous sources. Bryan Whitman, a spokesman for the Pentagon, claimed the report, published in last week's issue, was "demonstrably false," adding that it had had "significant consequences that reverberated throughout Muslim communities around the world."


The magazine has apologized for the story, in which it alleged interrogators at Guantánamo Bay had flushed a copy of the Quran down a toilet. "We regret that we got any part of our story wrong, and extend our sympathies to victims of the violence and to the U.S. soldiers caught in its midst," the apology read.

Which is all fine and good, except that a) this isn't the first time American interrogators have been accused of defacing the Quran, and b) despite the Pentagon's best efforts, Newsweek hasn't actually backed off the story.

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.

Juan Cole has plenty more.