Trying to decide if I’m shocked or not

I haven’t posted this weekend, you may have noticed. But the STAR WARS movie party for my kids and a bunch of their friends went very well yesterday.

So this evening I decided I was going to post on something that’s been troubling me: the Afghan riots instigated by the Newsweek report that US interrogators in Guantanamo had desecrated the Koran. Over a dozen people died in the riots.

I was going to write about how I questioned the wisdom of making this report public, knowing that it would only inflame anti-US sentiment and stoke the flames of terrorism. Even if the reports were true, I was going to write that it sure would be nice if Newsweek at least pretended to be on America’s side once in a while.

That doesn’t mean that Newsweek should condone desecration of the Koran. I simply meant to write that Newsweek should exhaust all other avenues before publishing the reports. If Newsweek wants to do the right thing, wouldn’t it be better to end Koran desecration quietly? The options would be to A) Put a stop to Koran desecration by using its contacts within the military and the government, using rear channels and a threat of publication to end the practice, or B) Put a stop to Koran desecration by publishing the report.

One option threatens American troops and makes the problem of international terrorism worse. One option doesn’t.

Newsweek apparently chose option ‘B’. Without really knowing, I’d say that set our operations in Afghanistan back six months and set operations back everywhere else by four months. Those are just arbitrary numbers and I might be totally full of it, but I’d bet that my estimates are on the conservative side.

Newsweek, not being staffed by complete morons, knows all this. And they published the report anyway.

That makes them members of the other side.

And yes, just in case it is not clear, Murdoc Online is openly questioning the patriotism of Newsweek magazine. I don’t want there to be any misunderstanding. Murdoc Online very strongly accuses Newsweek magazine of aiding the enemy and threatening the lives of American soldiers and civilians.

So imagine my surprise when I log on and read that the Newsweek reports AREN’T EVEN TRUE.

But they apologized:

“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,” Newsweek Editor Mark Whitaker wrote in a note to readers.

The best confirmation Newsweek apparently received of the reports of Koran abuse was a lack of denial by a military official who denied other allegations.

But on Friday, a top Pentagon spokesman told the magazine that a review of the military’s investigation concluded it was never meant to look into charges of Quran desecration. The spokesman also said the Pentagon had investigated other desecration charges by detainees and found them not credible.

Also, Whitaker added, the magazine’s original source later said he could not be sure he read about the alleged Quran incident in the report Newsweek cited, and that it might have been in another document.

“Top administration officials have promised to continue looking into the charges, and so will we,” Whitaker wrote.

Newsweek Washington Bureau Chief Daniel Klaidman said the magazine believes it erred in reporting the allegation that a prison guard tried to flush the Koran down a toilet and that military investigators had confirmed the accusation.

“The issue here is to get the truth out, to acknowledge as quickly as possible what happened, and that’s what we’re trying to do,” Klaidman told the “CBS Evening News” on Sunday.

It is too late to get the truth out. Way too late.

This is an ‘oops’ that will cost America lives. Some of our soldiers will die because of this.

UPDATE: Well, it appears that this revelation has rightly pissed of a fair part of the ol’ blogosphere.

Frank Warner: 16 deaths in Afghanistan later, Newsweek says it was wrong about the Quran (Koran) being flushed down Guantanamo toilet

Oddly enough, the only documented report of Quran desecration at Guantanamo is one of a detainee stuffing pages of the Quran in the toilet as a protest.

As Frank writes, “The dead are not amused.”


Newsweek has blood on its hands. Blood on its desks. Isikoff should cough up his source.

But journalistic integrity is at stake, here. Right? Right?

Glenn Reynolds: GEE, THANKS GUYS

Two points: (1) If they had wrongly reported the race of a criminal and produced a lynching, they’d feel much worse — which is why they generally don’t report such things, a degree of sensitivity they don’t extend to reporting on, you know, minor topics like wars; and (2) If a blogger had made a similar mistake, with similar consequences, we’d be hearing about Big Media’s superior fact-checking and layers of editors.

People died, and U.S. military and diplomatic efforts were damaged, because — let’s be clear here — Newsweek was too anxious to get out a story that would make the Bush Administration and the military look bad.

An Instapundit reader also wonders whether there would be widespread rioting if someone were to desecrate the Holy Bible. I doubt it, and Newsweek wouldn’t even report it unless it was some sort of “free-speech” or “separation of church and state demonstration”, in which case it would be held up for admiration.

USS Neverdock: America – Koran Not Flushed – Newsweek Apologizes

But how many in the world will read this admission? And of those who do, how many will conclude that Newsweek was pressured into this admission by the government to quell the riots?

That’s why it’s too late.

First of all, I want to be clear when I say I don’t think Newsweek should have gone public with this even if it was 100% positive it was true. This story clearly and obviously endangers American servicemen and America’s reputation, not to mention the untold numbers of people in many nations that will suffer because of it.

Secondly, I’m struck by the fact that nearly everyone writing about this is so focused on the Afghans that have already died. While it’s absolutely very correct to note the needless deaths this Newsweek story caused and that we don’t forget those that tragically died during the riots, I guess I’m far more worried about the cost in lives down the road.

This Newsweek story, false though it is, probably convinced (or will convince in the future) one thousand people to take up arms against America and its allies. It will also convince ten thousand people to aid and support the jihadists financially or in other ways.

Yes, again those are arbitrary numbers. But I again think they’re probably on the conservative side.

This story will live for years. Decades, perhaps. American soldiers will be injured and die because of it. American reconstruction efforts will be attacked. Afghan, Iraqi, and other civilians who aid us or support the governments we’re trying to help build will be targeted.

I don’t think I’m exaggerating when I say the death toll directly attributable to this Newsweek story will be in the hundreds. Of course, we’ll never know.

American policies, we are told, are the terrorists’ best recruiting tool. While I don’t know that I take that at face value, there’s no doubt that there’s more than a kernel of truth there.

And some of those policies, to be sure, are the right thing to do even if they do attract some to the terrorist training camps.

But if our actions are going to stoke the flames of terrorism, I’d at least like it to be something true.

UPDATE: Maybe my numbers are low.


  1. I’m not shocked. The irresponsibility of some elements of the media dulled my outrage long ago. The best part (in truly cynical jaded way) of this story is Newsweek (according to FOX News) has said their ‘source’ for this scurrilous report is no longer backing up his original claim about the Korans being abused by US Personnel at Gitmo. I have a term I use for people ‘like that’, but I now Murdoc Online doesn’t print language ‘like that’.

  2. Your numbers about the length of time our efforts here in Afghanistan were set back are most probably conservative. The people I work with are either stunned, or unhappy with this report. You are right on the money about burining the Bible. The Saudis routinely burn Bibles when found, jail ex-pats caught practicing their religion and murder the few Saudi Christians they find. The world never hears about that. I was really angered when I read an article that told of the Saudi leadership lecturing the US about desecration of the Quran. They, of all people, have no room to talk!

  3. Desertmole: The same seems to apply to the American flag! They routinely seem to burn that, but if US citizens decided to give flag burning a try it is likely that the troops would suffer because of it.

  4. Lying Sons of Bitches! No wonder our troops view the media as an enemy. I know this first-hand and am not exaggerating. If a ‘journalist’ had pulled a stunt like this during WWII, he would have been fired and his unemployed status reported to the draft board. Instead of firing the people involved, they should all be imbedded for a year with the troops who have to deal with the consequences of the story. If they survive, perhaps they will have a little appreciation for what our troops are dealing with and gain a little wisdom. If they don’t survive, good.

  5. For the sake of all Americans everywhere and especially out of respect for the families of the fallen servicemen attributable directly to the riots triggered by the spurious rag NewsWEAK; BOYCOTT NEWSWEEK NOW and force its deserved bankruptcy…if you maintain a subscription to this filthy rag then you can never claim a right to having a clean conscience. It is my sincere hope that every NewsEditor of Newsweek lose their comfy ‘ivory-tower’ jobs and their fancy BMWs and ritzy homes since no one is going to respect their journalistic integrity (if they ever had it in the first place) ever again!!! They had a responsiblity to stop this story from ever having gone to print! They are traitors to our country and should be exiled to Afghanistan, Pakistan, or Saudi Arabia.