Earlier this week, Newsweek retracted a story in which it claimed that the Koran had been desecrated by U.S. officials to pressure inmates at Guantanamo Bay. Bush administration officials were quick to blame Newsweek for the international backlash against the United States and claimed the ill will such nations harbor is the fault of the media.
White House officials also said the retraction was “a good first step,” but called for “more action.”
It is clearly regrettable that Newsweek did not check their facts before running this potentially inflammatory story. But it is ridiculous to suggest that the media has created the ill will toward the United States that is found in many nations, especially in the Middle East.
There are plenty of witnesses who claim abuse is occurring in installations such as Guantanamo Bay. One such allegation included female U.S. interrogators throwing blood at male inmates and telling them it was menstrual blood. This is largely why the reports about a Koran being flushed down a toilet to make inmates talk seemed so plausible.
If such incidents are occurring, it is the men and women who perpetrate them — not the journalists who report them — who are to blame.
But instead of using an apparent blunder to extort favorable commentary from the media, the allegations should be investigated. If such incidents are indeed occurring, the backlash will be even bigger once news about them leaks.