Roger L. Simon

What Newsweek Said

Blood continues to flow and riots abound across the Islamic world from an anonymously sourced article in Newsweek that makes your average blog read like a legal brief for a Constitutional amendment.

Let’s take a moment to review what the Newsweek reporters wrote in their article.

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 leash.

Sources? Multiple? I’d like to see backing for that. And is that one source for the Qur’an story and another for the collar and leash episode or are they multiple (anonymous, of course) sources for the same story? Newsweek isn’t saying. In fact what is Newsweek’s policy about this? Inquiring (and moral) minds would like to know.

But never mind that. Even the simple mind would like to know how you flush a Qur’an down a toilet? It doesn’t take the late Johnny Cochran to see there is a problem here. (“If the Qur’an don’t fit, you must acquit!”) Of course, someone could have been doing this desecrating page by page, though it is unlikely, unless Guantanamo has some extraordinary plumbing, that he or she would have gotten very far.

In fact, if we are to believe the chairman of the Joint Chiefs General Richard Myers, whom I suspect would not risk his credibility on a monumental matter like this without having done at least some homework, the event was, if anything, the opposite of what Newsweek said. According to the Reuters article linked above, Myers said “the only incident recorded in the prison logs was of a detainee tearing pages from a Quran and using them in an attempt to block a toilet as a protest, and even that incident, he said, was unconfirmed.”

So what is going on at Newsweek? Has their ancient business model (the weekly newsmagazine) become so procrustean that they must resort to unsourced scoops on the Internet to call attention to themselves? This is something that bloggers are accused of. But of course they are worse than bloggers because they are not subject to our immediate feedback and editing, as I am just beneath this post. If I were to make a similar anonymously sourced accusation on here, I would be crucified by my readers and deservedly so. If my source proved to be lying or significantly embellishing on a matter of this gravity (and with such dire results), I would feel so ashamed I don’t believe I would continue this blog. If that happens to Newsweek, they and their reporters will have to deal with their own consciences.