Saturday, June 04, 2005

White House Says Media Blows Koran Abuse Out Of Proportion

Via Reuters:

The White House sought on Saturday to minimize damage from new revelations about U.S. personnel mishandling the Koran at the Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, prison, accusing a few people of violating policy and the media of blowing "isolated incidents" out of proportion.

It was the administration's latest broadside against the press over abuses at Guantanamo. Last month, the White House attacked Newsweek and went so far as to ask the magazine to help repair damage to America's image.

The U.S. military on Friday released details about five cases in which the Islamic holy book was kicked, stepped on and soaked in water.

In one case, a guard's urine splashed onto a detainee and his Koran. Southern Command said a guard urinated near an air vent and "the wind blew his urine through the vent" and onto a detainee and his Koran.

"It is unfortunate that some have chosen to take out of context a few isolated incidents by a few individuals without making clear the policies and practices of the overwhelming vast majority, the 99.9 percent, of our military personnel," said White House spokesman Scott McClellan.

McClellan said he was referring to "some media coverage and some commentary."

Reuters notes that the White House has been denouncing lots of critics of its War on Terror policies lately.

The White House's harsh response followed President Bush's blunt dismissal last week of an Amnesty International report which described the U.S. detention center in Guantanamo as a gulag and said the United States was responsible for an upsurge in human rights violations around the world. Bush called the allegations "absurd."

Last month, the White House blamed Newsweek magazine for damaging America's image in the Muslim world with a report that interrogators had flushed at least one copy of the Muslim holy book down a toilet to try to make detainees talk.

Former Guantanamo prisoners and lawyers for detainees have long accused U.S. personnel at Guantanamo of putting the Koran into toilets.

Once again, rather than deal honestly and openly with the confirmed incidents of Koran "mishandling", the Bush Administration goes straight for the throat and accuses the media of blowing the "isolated incidents" out of proportion. But the press has barely dealt with the confirmations of Koran abuse. The news cycle is notoriously slow on weekends, which is why the Pentagon released the report at 7:13PM on a Friday night, and most cable news outlets were too busy discussing the Michael Jackson trial to handle the Koran abuse confirmations. Only Countdown on MSNBC dealt with the story in any depth. But Scottie wants to make sure he blasts the press quickly on this to try and scare away some honest coverage. Conservative commentator Andrew Sullivan notes the Bush strategy on the prison scandals:

the way this was released late on Friday evening suggests to me that it's part of a strategy to deflect attention, minimize what occurred and urge the press to move on, rather than a genuine attempt to get to the bottom of this. Maybe we'll never know the full truth. This minimal amount of information seems to me to be the perfect Pentagon solution: they haven't outright denied anything; they've provided a handful of minor examples of abuse as a minimal concession; and the strategy now is to accuse the press of exaggeration and the detainees of lying.

Don't deny anything outright, attack your accusers, and rely on the general public to be indifferent to the stories. That's how the Bush Administration has gotten away with making America into a country that tortures, abuses, humiliates, and murders "terror suspects" or just sends them to other countries like Egypt or Syria to have the dirty work done for us. Again, Andrew Sullivan on the patterns of abuse in the prison scandals and how the Bush Administration has gotten away with it all:

it is now indisputable that a network of secret prisons exists to detain and interrogate terror suspects, that some of those imprisoned are "ghost detainees" with no proper records or accounting, that abuse and torture have occurred in hundreds of cases, that this president signed a memo defining torture into near-non-existence, that there is no secure method for determining the guilt or innocence of the prisoners, and that all of this has decimated America's international reputation. It is equally indisputable that investigations into these incidents are simply not "fully investigated in a transparent way." Even the most egregious cases of murder, as in Bagram, are sometimes dismissed at first for lack of evidence. Incidents of Koran abuse were deemed "not credible" for a week, until five incidents were confirmed. Many, many other accusations are deemed baseless because the only willing testimony comes from prisoners and no investigation takes place. Further, military critics of administration policy are often fired; and the message from the top is unmistakable. These are simply facts. To describe criticisms of this policy and record as "absurd" is itself absurd. It bespeaks either stunning cynicism, or equally stunning denial. And it suggests to me that there will be no resolution to this profound problem coming from the administration itself. They're relying on the general public not to care, or to believe that the ends of preventing terror justify almost any means, including an end to America's proud history of decency toward prisoners in wartime. That makes it all the more incumbent on the Congress, the media and the part of the public that does love this country's reputation and humaneness to speak out and demand accountability. The odds are long, but we have no choice but to try.

Sullivan's right. The odds are long on anybody speaking out and demanding accountability from the "accountability preznit." I am beginning to lose hope and give in to despair. Every time I think the situation can't get any worse, it gets worse. In this case, the administration hammers Newsweek into submission over the "Koran in toilet" report, goads the rest of the corporate press into jumping on the Newsweek bashing bandwagon, then admits to a guard pissing on a Koran two weeks later! And of course they will get away with the absurdity of it all because the cable news outlets like CNN have moved on to more important stories like the Michael Jackson trial or the disappearance of an Alabama student in Aruba.

When does it all end?

Comments: Post a Comment

<< Home

This page is powered by Blogger. Isn't yours?