Wednesday, May 25, 2005

So, what do y'all have to say NOW?

Yeah, so I think Newsweek got a little vindication today about that maligned Periscope story. Between Karzai's enoxeration of blame for them the other day and this today, they don't look so wrong now. Read 'em and weep.

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - An FBI agent wrote in a 2002 document made public on Wednesday that a detainee held at the U.S. naval base at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, had accused American jailers there of flushing the Koran down a toilet.

The Pentagon said the allegation was not credible. The declassified document's release came the week after the Bush administration denounced as wrong a May 9 Newsweek article that stated U.S. interrogators at Guantanamo had flushed a Koran down a toilet to try to make detainees talk. The magazine retracted the article, which had triggered protests in Afghanistan in which 16 people died.

The newly released document, dated Aug. 1, 2002, contained a summary of statements made days earlier by a detainee, whose name was redacted, in two interviews with an FBI special agent, whose name also was withheld, at the Guantanamo prison for foreign terrorism suspects.

The American Civil Liberties Union released the memo and other FBI documents it obtained from the government under court order through the Freedom of Information Act.

"Personally, he has nothing against the United States. The guards in the detention facility do not treat him well. Their behavior is bad. About five months ago, the guards beat the detainees. They flushed a Koran in the toilet," the FBI agent wrote.

"It's not credible," chief Pentagon spokesman Lawrence Di Rita said of the allegation regarding a Koran in a toilet.

Di Rita said the U.S. military questioned the detainee on May 14, and that the man was "very cooperative and answered the questions but did not corroborate the allegation recorded on Aug. 1, 2002." Di Rita said he did not know whether the man actually recanted the allegation.

"These kind of, sort of, fantastic charges about our guys doing something willfully heinous to a Koran for the purposes of rattling detainees are not credible on their face," Di Rita told reporters.


The documents indicated that detainees were making allegations that they had been abused and that the Muslim holy book had been mishandled as early as April 2002, about three months after the first detainees arrived at Guantanamo.

In other documents, FBI agents stated that Guantanamo detainees also accused U.S. personnel of kicking the Koran and throwing it to the floor, and described beatings by guards. But one document cited a detainee who accused a guard of dropping a Koran, prompting an "uprising" by prisoners, when it was the prisoner himself who dropped it.

"Unfortunately, one thing we've learned over the last couple of years is that detainee statements about their treatment at Guantanamo and other detention centers sometimes have turned out to be more credible than U.S. government statements," said ACLU lawyer Jameel Jaffer.

Former detainees and a lawyer for current prisoners previously have stated that U.S. personnel at Guantanamo had placed the Koran in a toilet, but the Pentagon has said it also does not view those allegations as credible.

In document written in April 2003, an FBI agent related a detainee's account of an incident involving a female U.S. interrogator.

"While the guards held him, she removed her blouse, embraced the detainee from behind and put her hand on his genitals. The interrogator was on her menstrual period and she wiped blood from her body on his face and head," the memo stated.

A similar incident was described in a recent book written by a former Guantanamo interrogator.

White House spokesman Scott McClellan last week said Newsweek "got the facts wrong" and Pentagon spokesman Bryan Whitman called the article "demonstrably false." Di Rita said last week the Pentagon had received "no credible and specific allegations" that U.S. personnel had put a Koran in the toilet.

So, here's my question. If Newsweek got it SO wrong, and the Pentagon is denying all of this, does that mean they are calling the FBI liars? If so, what does it say about Pentagon leadership that they are calling all of these people liars? These are the same people who let Abu Ghraib happen on their watch. My faith in their credibility is shaken from that. It bothers me, because I like Don Rumsfeld. I just think he's been grossly incompetent. In any case, if the Pentagon calls everyone liars, and there's proof that the Pentagon has covered things up before, doesn't that put the burden of proof on them?


Blogger E. M. Zanotti said...

"If Newsweek got it SO wrong, and the Pentagon is denying all of this, does that mean they are calling the FBI liars?"

Maybe, but its the ACLU, which is paid to advocate for their client. They don't have the power to get classified documents even under FOIA, and these documents sound more like they are transcripts from interviews with detainees. The Pentagon might be calling the detainees liars, which seems more probable. The FBI is primarily responsible for interviewing and collecting testimony when allegations of abuse by the Defense Department--the ACLU might be able to access those, but not the final reports. I'd be curious to see the documents that they obtained.

Either way, the procedure is screwed up. Keeping these guys detained for indefinite amounts of time borders on insane.

9:27 PM  
Blogger Desi said...

Michelle Malkin lied, people died.

8:29 AM  
Blogger jj said...

I am sorry but I am still shaking my head about the administration saying "Newsweek hurt the image of the United States in the Middle East" It would be very funny if it wasn't so sad.

1:50 PM  

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