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Monday, May 16, 2005

Newsweek Retracts Lie, 15 Die

Let's see if I have this straight.

  • Spc. Charles Graner faces up to fifteen years in prison for putting panties on a terrorist's head at the infamous Abu Ghraib prison.
  • Newsweek editor Mark Whitaker goes to print with a bogus story about Guantanamo prison guards flushing a Koran down the toilet, a direct result of which were the deaths of 15 people in Pakistan and Afghanistan, and he gets ... interviewed on every network news show on television.

Newsweek Retracts Story on Quran Abuse
By SETH SUTEL AP Business Writer

NEW YORK (AP) -- Newsweek magazine, under fire for publishing a story that led to deadly protests in Afghanistan, said Monday it was retracting its report that a military probe had found evidence of desecration of the Quran by U.S. interrogators at Guantanamo Bay.

Earlier Monday, Bush administration officials had brushed off an apology that Newsweek's editor Mark Whitaker had made in an editor's note and criticized the magazine's handling of the story.

Protests broke out across much of the Muslim world last week after Newsweek reported that U.S. investigators found evidence that interrogators had flushed a copy of Muslim's holy book down a toilet in an attempt to rattle detainees. The violence left about 15 dead and scores injured in Afghanistan.

"It's appalling that this story got out there," Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice said as she traveled home from Iraq.

"People lost their lives. People are dead," Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld said on Capitol Hill. "People need to be very careful about what they say, just as they need to be careful about what they do."

Following the criticism, Whitaker released a statement through a spokesman later Monday saying the magazine was retracting the article. (link)

I'll bet there is some sense to be made of the relative fairness here. Yes, I'll just bet there is.

When You Have Nothing To Say, It's Best ...

I have of late gotten to where I enjoy reading the editorials in the Roanoke Times. It's not because I expect to learn anything or to gain perspective on a particular subject. It's that the people who write "opinion" for the paper are so darned devoid of anything worth saying. I find that amusing.

Today's filler involves Donald Rumsfeld's attempt at restucturing the U.S. military. It is entitled:
Rumsfeld's military tunnel vision

The defense secretary barrels ahead with a transformation flawed by its failure to heed so many important lessons from Iraq.
Well. My first thought was that (a) the Times would take issue with certain of the Defense Department's reform proposals and (b) would offer some alternative.

I should have known better.
Donald Rumsfeld apparently stopped learning from U.S. experiences in Iraq during the spring of 2003, when the war supposedly ended.

The defense secretary signaled full speed ahead last week on his plan for transforming the U.S. military into "a smaller, more lethal and nimble joint force capable of swiftly defeating an adversary throughout the depth of the global battlespace." And why not? Saddam Hussein's army fell quickly to a force far smaller than the one needed to dislodge it from Kuwait 12 years earlier. U.S. casualties were minimal. The campaign proved the efficacy of mobile, technologically advanced forces supported by massive air power.

The problem is that the war didn't end in the spring of 2003. It resurfaced as a guerrilla and terrorist conflict that American forces still lack the manpower and capabilities to subdue. Rumsfeld was warned, but he refused to plan for anything other than the quick, easy, cheap war and occupation he so confidently predicted.
Wait a minute. Call me stupid (unlike the editorial staff at the Roanoke Times, I've not read the millions of Defense Department after-action reports, analyses, recommendations, and supporting statistical data and therefore, I'm not an expert on military matters) but wouldn't "transforming the U.S. military into 'a smaller, more lethal and nimble joint force capable of swiftly defeating an adversary'" be just the ticket for fighting the kind of terror war that we see being waged in Iraq today? We could resurrect the 8th Air Force and bomb the living hell out of Fallujah but is that really what the editors want?

I searched in vain for a specific point of contention, a recommendation, even a hint at an alternative plan, that might be offered up. But no.

The Roanoke Times editorialists just wanted to bitch about Rumsfeld. Again.

Memo to the Times editorial staff: You may wake up one morning, report to work, and have absolutely nothing to contribute to an otherwise excellent newspaper. You are killing trees each time you publish a paper. Honor them with the dissemination of something of substance. Otherwise the dead trees are nothing but pulp.

Such a waste.

Newsweek Magazine Kills 15 - and Counting

I am astounded at the stupidity and callousness.
Newsweek Apologizes for Report of Koran Insult

Newsweek apologized yesterday for printing a small item on May 9 about reported desecration of the Koran by American guards at Guantánamo Bay, Cuba, an item linked to riots in Pakistan and Afghanistan that led to the deaths of at least 17 people. But the magazine, while acknowledging possible errors in the article, stopped short of retracting it.

The report that a Koran had been flushed down a toilet set off the most virulent, widespread anti-American protests in Afghanistan since the fall of the Taliban government more than three years ago.

"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," Mark Whitaker, Newsweek's editor, wrote in the issue of the magazine that goes on sale at newsstands today. In an accompanying article, the magazine wrote that its reporters had relied on an American government official, whom it has not identified, who had incomplete knowledge of the situation. (link)

"Sorry about that, folks. But at least we didn't force those killed in the riots that erupted as a result of this false information being published to wear panties on their heads. It's not like we're Abu Ghraib prison guards."