Sunday, May 15, 2005

Newsweek "Regrets" Getting Quran Story Wrong, Sort of

Of course that horse is already out of the barn. Fifteen people have died in Afghan riots sparked by Newsweek's story accusing Americans of desecrating the Quran at the Guantanamo Bay detention facility by ripping out pages and flushing them down a toilet. Now Newsweek has admitted that their source erred and they have no corroboration for the charge originally made by a detainee. In fact, a guard has alleged that a detainee was ripping pages from a copy of the Quran and putting them in a toilet in an effort to plug it as a protest.

From The New York Times:
"We regret that we got any part of our story wrong, and extend our sympathies to victims of the violence and to the U.S. soldiers caught in its midst," Mark Whitaker, Newsweek's editor, wrote in the issue of the magazine that goes on sale at newsstands today. In an accompanying article, the magazine wrote that its reporters had relied on an American government official, whom it has not named, who had incomplete knowledge of the situation.
Well, that does sound contrite of them, as if they're really, really sorry for causing the riots in Afghanistan that resulted in the deaths and put US troops in jeopardy. Good for them. But wait a minute:
"But," Mr. Whitaker said in an interview later, "We're not retracting anything. We don't know for certain what we got wrong."
So Newsweek has just apologized for a story that they're not retracting. I see.

Update: Here's another nasty little piece of innuendo from Newsweek that I first reported in January: Four Degrees of Propaganda.

Related: Citzcom reports that radical Muslim clerics are calling for a holy war over the Newsweek story.