Tuesday, May 17, 2005

Monday Morning Posturing

The non-righteous indignation about the Newsweek/Koran controversy is getting a little thick. Since doubts first surfaced about the story's veracity, the Pentagon, White House and State Department have been tripping over themselves demanding retractions and accountability. People are dead because of this, we're being told over and over.

But when the story was first reported that wasn't quite the case. On May 12, the State Department published the following on its website:
The chairman of the U.S. Joint Chiefs of Staff says a report from Afghanistan suggests that rioting in Jalalabad on May 11 was not necessarily connected to press reports that the Quran might have been desecrated in the presence of Muslim prisoners held in U.S. custody at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba.

Air Force General Richard Myers told reporters at the Pentagon May 12 that he has been told that the Jalalabad, Afghanistan, rioting was related more to the ongoing political reconciliation process in Afghanistan than anything else.

According to initial reports, the situation in Jalalabad began on May 10 with peaceful student protests reacting to a report in Newsweek magazine that U.S. military interrogators questioning Muslim detainees at the Guantanamo detention center “had placed Qurans on toilets, and in at least one case flushed a holy book.” By the following day the protests in the city had turned violent with reports of several individuals killed, dozens wounded, and widespread looting of government, diplomatic and nongovernmental assets.

However, Myers said an after-action report provided by U.S. Army Lieutenant General Karl Eikenberry, commander of the Combined Forces in Afghanistan, indicated that the political violence was not, in fact, connected to the magazine report.
I guess in a war like this you'll take all the strawmen you can get, right?


Blogger DrDave said...

>>I guess in a war like this you'll take >>all the strawmen you can get, right?

You're damned skippy.

It's amusingly ironic that the White House is jumping ugly on Newsweek for publishing a (minor) story based on poorly confirmed facts when they launched a war based on poorly confirmed facts that have since been discredited.

But then, this White House has neither much of a sense of humor nor the capacity to appreciate irony.

5/17/2005 6:46 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

nice catch!

5/17/2005 7:01 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

what drdave said.

5/17/2005 8:36 AM  
Blogger Luneau Atheist said...

I can't believe that this administration would EVER do something dishonest for political gain. They've been so forthright in the past!

5/17/2005 10:24 AM  
Blogger owenz said...

As I noted in my comment on the last post, the furious spinning is going to burn the White House. Just because it worked on Rathergate - which involved non-existent 30-year old documents - doesn't mean it will work here. The key with Rathergate was that the White House got the last word. Does Rove really believe the Newsweek story will be the last word on Islam-and-Interrogation stories? There will be more to come and it’s hard to see how all this righteous indignation over Newsweek’s mistake will reflect well on the White House when real, undeniable stories of Koran-abuse unfold.

Perhaps they believe that attacking Newsweek will undermine the credibility of future stories involving the abuse of Islam during interrogation. If so, they're being shortsighted. A more likely affect is to dramatically increase the profile of such stories, which had been on the verge of falling into the memory hole prior to this controversy.

American journalism may be weakened, but the White House has just dared news organizations everywhere to make a front page story about of prisoner abuse yet again. We know the stories are out there. Why wouldn’t Rove just let it die?

5/17/2005 10:25 AM  
Blogger uptowngbv said...

60 Minutes features some forged documents and Bush is suddenly a war hero? Newsweek drops the ball on fact checking and prisoners aren't being abused in Cuba and Iraq?
I don't see the connection.

5/17/2005 11:24 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

agree with TCR's post, pretty funny.

5/17/2005 11:34 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

It isn't as if this is new news; others have said the same thing. What if the news is true? What, if it isn't said or written, does that mean it hasn't happened? The lack of transparency, faked news (i.e., Jessica Lynch), religious fundamentalism assoc., and trying to silence will only work for a short time, but evidentually it'll fester, bubble and burst. This "news" unfortunately is being exploited by both sides. Who has the heaviest hand to exploit the masses. You wrote something similar on 3/30/2003, "A Short, Highly Relevant Book Review".

PS: If you're intellectually honest, I'd hardly compare the compulsive, knowingly, repetitive acts of druggy Jayson Blair over a short career with the Dan Rather error over a long career.

5/17/2005 12:09 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Found this on David Sirota's blog - it pretty much hits the point for me.
This is from McClellan:

"It's puzzling that while Newsweek now acknowledges that they got the facts wrong, they refused to retract the story," White House spokesman Scott McClellan told reporters. "I think there's a certain journalistic standard that should be met and in this instance it was not...The report has had serious consequences. People have lost their lives. The image of the United States abroad has been damaged."

And has the following follow up from one of Sirota's readers.

"It's puzzling that while the White House now acknowledged that they haven't found WMD or a link between Al Queda and Iraq, they have refused to retract their claims. I think there's a certain standard of governing that should be met and in this instance has not. The claims the administration used to send this nation to war has had serious consequences. People have lost their lives. The image of the United States abroad has been damaged."


5/17/2005 1:40 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Ever heard of the Mukhabarat?

Saddams state paid tortures, rapists and murderers?

We were told we going into Iraq to catch these b*stards and put them on trial.

Now we employ thousands of them, literally, thousands of them are on our payroll.

We send people we have kidnapped\arrested to places like Uzbekistan for "questioning", where we know they boil people alive..... want to see pictures? They're available on the web.

Did US soldiers flush the Koran down the toilet? ( What does a bear do in the woods?)... I can list a number of former detaineees ( released because they were innocent from Gitmo) who independendantly say they saw it happen.


5/17/2005 2:27 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Consider this- The Koran story is a red herring. Of course we've been desecrating the Koran -- there are simply too many reports coming from too many witnesses to refute that, and the WH knows it.

Their goal isn't to refute the Koran story (who cares if a bunch of ragheads in the middle east riot, right?) The point is to discredit the news media, presumably Newsweek in particular, in anticipation of a bigger, more damaging story.

Maybe it's the Downing Street memo, which might FINALLY get some traction here. Maybe it's something else in the wings. But the point is, destroy the reputation of the news media before it can do any damage to the administration.

Look what happened to Rather and 60 Minutes. They're tainted now because of a POSSIBLY forged memo (although it's never been proven to actually BE a forgery) containing some facts that were in themselves NOT REFUTED. Remember what the secretary said about the contents of the memo? No? You don't remember? Well, because you're not SUPPOSED to remember that she confirmed the contents of the memo, you're only supposed to remember that the actual document itself MIGHT not have been the original one she typed.

Smokescreen, everyone. Just a smokescreen. Discredit the news media so you don't know whether to believe the next big story that might ooze its way out.

And shame on Newsweek for folding, when they could easily have pointed to the numerous other reports backing up the essence of their story.

5/17/2005 3:17 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

It seems obvious that the president and his staff and many members of congress lie more often than not. Did we desecrate the Quran? I have no doubt in my mind that we did. We desecrated life when we went to war for a lie and the WH desperately wants ingorant people to believe his lies. And he is winning because people in America are truly ignorant.

5/17/2005 7:04 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

It's interesting that Scotty Mac (the pillsbury snowboy) suggested today that Newsweak might make amends for its' murderous ways by reporting all the good things America is doing over in the Middle East. By becoming, perhaps, another State organ of the Republikan Party of Amerika.

5/18/2005 1:11 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...


5/18/2005 10:09 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Does anyone remember what the former Press Secretary Ari Fleisher said about Bill Maher and the TV show, "Politically Incorrect" (ABC kicked Maher off the network due to similar rhetoric that has come upon selected media).

"There are reminders to all Americans that they need to watch what they say, watch what they do. This is not a time for remarks like that. There never is."


5/18/2005 3:24 PM  
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