Sunday, May 15, 2005

Flush Your NEWSEEK Down the Toilet

NEWSWEEK Online is now reporting the anonymous source used by Michael Isikoff and John Barry would not even stand behind his original claim, let alone substantiate it (hat-tip: Huffington Post).

On Friday night, Pentagon spokesman DiRita called NEWSWEEK to complain about the original PERISCOPE item. He said, "We pursue all credible allegations" of prisoner abuse, but insisted that the investigators had found none involving Qur'an desecration. DiRita sent NEWSWEEK a copy of rules issued to the guards (after the incidents mentioned by General Myers) to guarantee respect for Islamic worship. 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. Told of what the NEWSWEEK source said, DiRita exploded, "People are dead because of what this son of a bitch said. How could he be credible now?" - Page 2

Just as I suspected in my May 13 entry on this story, the only source of these allegations remaining standing are former detainees from Guantanamo Bay. NEWSWEEK Online highlights the house of cards on which their credibility rests on page two.

NEWSWEEK was not the first to report allegations of desecrating the Qur'an. As early as last spring and summer, similar reports from released detainees started surfacing in British and Russian news reports, and in the Arab news agency Al-Jazeera; claims by other released detainees have been covered in other media since then.

Newsweek now sites reports in the likes of British tabloids, Pravda, and Al-Jazeera as a good foundation for repeating unsubstantiated claims against our service men and women fighting abroad. This is not surprising considering MSNBC, NEWSEEK's online partner, has long been a defender of Al-Jazeera. However, I'll give Michael Isikoff some credit. While in cover-your-ass mode, he at least called a lawyer representing former detainees to get second-hand hearsay on which to base these accusations against our troops.

In the meantime, as part of his ongoing reporting on the detainee-abuse story, Isikoff had contacted a New York defense lawyer, Marc Falkoff, who is representing 13 Yemeni detainees at Guantánamo. According to Falkoff's declassified notes, a mass-suicide attempt—when 23 detainees tried to hang or strangle themselves in August 2003—was triggered by a guard's dropping a Qur'an and stomping on it. One of Falkoff's clients told him, "Another detainee tried to kill himself after the guard took his Qur'an and threw it in the toilet." A U.S. military spokesman, Army Col. Brad Blackner, dismissed the claims as unbelievable. "If you read the Al Qaeda training manual, they are trained to make allegations against the infidels," he said.

The credit afforded Mr. Isikoff is then completely wiped out as NEWSEEK does it again! Attempting to further justify their claims by the volume of these rumors, they cite the complaints of one Bader Zaman Bader.

More allegations, credible or not, are sure to come. Bader Zaman Bader, a 35-year-old former editor of a fundamentalist English-language magazine in Peshawar, was released from more than two years' lockup in Guantánamo seven months ago. Arrested by Pakistani security as a suspected Qaeda militant in November 2001, he was handed over to the U.S. military and held at a tent at the Kandahar airfield. One day, Bader claims, as the inmates' latrines were being emptied, a U.S. soldier threw in a Qur'an. After the inmates screamed and protested, a U.S. commander apologized. Bader says he still has nightmares about the incident.

Please Stop! Stop the bleeding and just come right out and admit it was a mistake. In truth, it would be fair to say that I had become so desensitized to the impugning of our military service members that I doubt I would've caught the off-hand allegation. So, a recognition of the oversight and a commitment to more dilligence in the future would've been satisfactory, but that's not the course NEWSWEEK has chosen. Mr. Bader Zaman Bader (assuming it's the same fellow) was released from Guantanamo Bay seven months ago. He was so distraught over the nightmare of watching the desecration of the Qur'an that, upon his release, he failed to mention the incident when questioned by journalists from the Associated Press and China's Xinhua.

Another former prisoner, Bader Zaman Bader, said he was interrogated "150 times" by his American jailers but never abused. - via 23 SEP 2004

One of the prisoners released from U.S. detention, Bader Zaman Bader, has demanded that the United States compensate him for three years of his life spent in custody, China's Xinhua news agency reported on 22 September. Bader said that he has a "right" to demand compensation since he "was innocent and the U.S. military failed to prove any charges" against him. According to the report, Bader is the first Afghan prisoner released from U.S. custody who has demanded compensation from the United States. - via Radio Free Afghanistan 23 SEP 2004

I like Michael Isikoff and believe he is one of the better journalists in America today. If this is any indication of how NEWSWEEK is going to defend its mistakes, I would recommend he return to the Washington Post (WP owns NEWSWEEK) and at least prevent NEWSWEEK from destroying his credibility as well.

UPDATE MAY 17, 2:30 PM- Welcome readers of PowerLine and the Weekly Standard. My chronological coverage of the Newsweek issue includes the initial flimsy story on May 13, this thinly sourced justification, the attempt at damage control by the parent corporation, and a lazy flaming of the notion that all of this was orchestrated by Karl Rove.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

The mothers of the cbs news people didn't bring them up right. Where are their morals?

6:27 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

An anonymous investigator told me that the entire staff at Newsweek were pedophiles. I find this alarming. I am somewhat hesitant to publish this fact, but being of the "Dan Rather " School of Journalism..."fake but accurate" is an acceptable standard.
Newsweek and Time Magazine are 99% correct 1% of the time.

7:03 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

My anonymous sources (voices in my head, mostly) tell me that the everybody at Newsweek are pyro-necrobestialists, not that there's anything wrong with that.

10:43 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...


12:39 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said..., although irreverent, sums it up in one foul image. (The poem beneath the image speaks volumes as well.)

9:26 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

It is Bush's fault. He did not deny immediately the story. And we do know at Newsweek, that he reads Newsweek, from cover to cover. So say our internal sourses.

6:55 PM  

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