Saturday, June 04, 2005


It is bad enough that the BBC thinks this ridiculous Koran "desecration" story at Guantanamo is worthy of its coverage, but is it too much to ask that it get its facts straight when covering it? Apparently it is.
The US has given details of how guards mishandled copies of the Koran at its
Guantanamo Bay prison, including a case of one copy being deliberately kicked.
It was part of an inquiry sparked by a magazine report, later retracted, that a
Koran was flushed down a toilet.

No, the inquiry was not sparked by a magazine report that a Koran was flushed down a toilet. The inquiry had been underway well before the Newsweek report, and indeed the Newsweek report was about what the already-existing investigation had discovered. This is what the article in the May 9 Newsweek said:
Investigators probing interrogation abuses at the U.S. detention center
at Guantanamo Bay have confirmed some infractions alleged in internal FBI
e-mails that surfaced late last year. Among the previously unreported cases,
sources tell NEWSWEEK: interrogators, in an attempt to rattle suspects, flushed
a Qur'an down a toilet and led a detainee around with a collar and dog
Newsweek was, of course, wrong. The investigation did not confirm the flushing of a Koran down a toilet, as we now know. But only in the strange world inhabited by BBC reporters could an investigation have been "sparked" by an incorrect report about the conclusions of that very same investigation.

Why is this mistake important? Because it perpetuates the myth that, in the absence of media pressure, the US military is uninterested in and unaccountable for the misbehaviors of those acting in its behalf. This is a conceit of the media in general, and is a deceit that is perpetuated particularly by the BBC. The fact is that the US military is so image-conscious that it even investigates and reports seriously on these trivial and petty "abuses" of Korans. (Korans which, by the way, were provided to the prisoners by who? The US, of course.)

BTW, if Koran "desecration" is such an offense to Muslims, and such an important issue for the BBC to cover, why is it that this report doesn't make a single mention of the number of Korans which were surely destroyed?


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