Roger L. Simon


Newsweek’s last line of defense just went down the drain. Even Howard Kurtz may not be able to help them now.

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – The Guantanamo detainee who told an
FBI agent in 2002 that U.S. personnel there had flushed a Koran in a toilet retracted his allegation when questioned this month by military investigators, the Pentagon said on Thursday.

“We’ve gone back to the detainee who allegedly made the allegation and he has said it didn’t happen. So the underlying allegation, the detainee himself, within the last two weeks, said that didn’t happen,” chief Pentagon spokesman Lawrence Di Rita told a briefing.

An FBI document, dated Aug. 1, 2002, contained a summary of statements made by the detainee in two interviews with an FBI special agent at the prison for foreign terrorism suspects at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba. The names of the detainee and the agent were redacted.

“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.

Di Rita told reporters on Wednesday the U.S. military, as part of an inquiry into Koran treatment at the U.S. naval base at Guantanamo, interviewed the same detainee on May 14, and that the man did not corroborate the earlier allegation. But Di Rita at the time said he did not know whether the man actually had recanted his earlier statement.

During his news conference on Thursday, Di Rita said he changed his account of what the detainee had said after getting more information from the commander of the Guantanamo prison, Brig. Gen. Jay Hood.

So yesterday’s story from the top of the LA Times website was just what it appeared to be – a bunch of poppycock.