Saturday, June 04, 2005

IN NEWSPAPER PARLANCE, Friday night is called the "newshole": if you are a government official and you have a news story that you would just as soon no one know about, you announce it Friday afternoon or evening, when no one is looking at the news.

Well, guess what the Pentagon dropped down the news hole tonight?

American jailers at the Guantanamo prison for foreign terrorism suspects splashed a Koran with urine, kicked and stepped on the Islamic holy book and soaked it with water, the U.S. military said on Friday.

U.S. Southern Command, responsible for the prison at the U.S. naval base at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, described for the first time five cases of "mishandling" of a Koran by U.S. personnel confirmed by a newly completed military inquiry, officials said in a statement.

Typically cynical move from the Bush administration -- but Shakespeare's Sister sees a sliver of hope in the Reuters article.

My first thought when I saw the headline is reflected in the title of this post. Another superb burying job by releasing the information at a time when nobody’s paying attention. Then I got to the very last line of the story (issued by Reuters, by the way), and I felt that shiver go down my spine once again…the shiver that makes me think maybe, just maybe, the tide is starting to turn, just a little:

Southern Command released its findings on a Friday night.

That’s it. No additional commentary. Just a statement of fact. Nine words that seem, at least to this veteran newsreader, to be weighted with all kinds of meaning.

Come on, media. I know you’re tired of the lies, the bullshit, the dissembling. You had balls once. You can find them again. I’m sure of it.
UPDATE: The AP article posted Saturday is even stronger. Here's the first paragraph:

U.S. military officials say no guard at the Guantanamo Bay prison for terror suspects flushed a detainee's Quran down the toilet, but they disclosed that a Muslim holy book was splashed with urine. In other newly disclosed incidents, a detainee's Quran was deliberately kicked and another's was stepped on.

In my reading, that first sentence has a distinctly sarcastic tone. Gosh, those Bushies were sure right on the money when they condemned Newsweek for writing that a report from Southern Command was going to contain confirmed allegations of U.S. personnel flushing a Koran down a toilet at Guantanamo. What an outrageous lie. No Koran was EVER flushed down a toilet. That was dead wrong. What really happened was that Korans were splashed with urine, kicked, and stepped on. Much better.

And the AP reporter mentions twice, at the top of the article, that the results of the investigation were released to the press on Friday evening.

On March 25, a detainee complained to guards that "urine came through an air vent" and splashed on him and his Quran. A guard admitted he was at fault, but a report released Friday evening offering new details about Quran mishandling incidents did not make clear whether the guard intended the result.
The findings, released after normal business hours Friday evening and after the major TV networks had aired their evening news programs, are among the results of an investigation last month by Brig. Gen. Jay Hood, the commander of the detention center in Cuba.

And the next sentence:

A Newsweek magazine report - later retracted - that a U.S. soldier had flushed one Guantanamo Bay detainee's Quran down a toilet triggered the investigation.

Ohhhhhh, interesting. So, in other words, these new examples of Koran desecration were discovered as a direct result of the article in Newsweek.

I'm waiting for Scott McClellan to apologize to Newsweek and thank Mark Whitaker, Michael Isikoff, and John Barry for publishing a story that helped uncover serious violations of the U.S. military's policy of treating the Koran with the utmost respect.

No comments: