That Newsweek thing

1) It’s almost certainly true that US troops desecrated Korans at Guantanamo.

2) Newsweek’s story was taken from a government source, as it claimed. The fact that the government source retracted after publication is Neither Here Nor There.

3) The riots are a complete red herring: if 12 maniacs are willing to kill themselves for something so monumentally trivial, I’m glad the stupid fuckers are dead and so should you be.

4) The increasing pressure placed on media organisations by governments and screeching right-wing fanatics is a Very Very Bad Thing. The Hutton enquiry shouldn’t have happened; Easton Jordan shouldn’t have been fired; Newsweek shouldn’t have been obliged to retract this story.

Journalism is a vital tool carried out by sensible people with generally honest motives; religious fanaticism and politics are not; and anyone who supports the latter over the former is, erm, questionable in my book.

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21 thoughts on “That Newsweek thing

  1. #3 is your only correct point.
    Newsweek, by its own admission, was wrong on this particular issue.If journalism, as you say, is a tool carried out by sensible people, why shouldn’t they retract an incorrect/unsubstantiated story?

    #1 makes clear that you are not a sensible person.

  2. #1 is certainly true; it’s been reported, and not denied, in the UK press for months. It’s been confirmed by the British prisoners released from Guantanamo. In British eyes it’s a trivial thing compared to the torture and murder that’s been going on there

  3. If it is neither here nor there that the source retracted their claims, then it is neither here nor there that they made them in the first place.

  4. War is a dirty and horrible business, the sooner people realise that some extremely nasty things are done by their country for them the better.
    I find any discussion on the ‘rules’ for interogation / questioning somewhat pointless. You either have the highest standards possible and lead by example (treat others as you would like to be treated yourself) or you regard all coercive questioning as fine and dandy (I don’t draw a distinction between threatening to deport someone’s family or breaking their fingers with a hammer).
    Frankly flushing the Koran down the bog is just one of a series of pyscholgical lever points that could be used and I would be very surprised indeed if that and other techniques weren’t used by the Yanks.
    I find it very sad that the US unlearned it’s WWII tactics and forgot that the eaisest way to defeat an enemy is to remove his reasons for fighting you in the first place. If you’re seen as militaristic and Blasphemous it would be wise to appear to act only when necessary and with an aesthists respect for others beliefs.
    Whatever you may think of Blair the UK military learnt this lesson long ago and operates a very succesful ‘hearts and minds’ policy where it operates. It is no coincidence that the British areas of Iraq have far fewer problems than the American controlled ones.

  5. John B: "The riots are a complete red herring: if 12 maniacs are willing to kill themselves for something so monumentally trivial, I’m glad the stupid fuckers are dead and so should you be" – and if any of the dead did not kill themselves but were killed by others, are they still "stupid fuckers" and are you still glad?

    Dave Heasman: Are you willing to accept the general rule that "Reported and not denied in the British press = true"?
    If so, I hope it’s OK if I bear it in mind and quote it back to you for years in other contexts. Same goes for "what former British Guatanamo detainees say = true", although that one might be less entertainingly pro-Tory.

  6. I thought someone would come back at me for this. It does seem a little odd that the torture and murder are admitted, do I hear "condoned"?, but you get into a snit over a few bits of paper flushed down the bog, but it takes all sorts, I suppose.

    No I won’t maintain "Reported and not denied in the British press = true" as a general rule, but when a small paper like the Guardian accuses a large organisation with deep pockets like the US government it tends to get my vote. Likewise "what former British Guatanamo detainees say = true" is likely, since they must be aware of the risks they are running by saying it. They are being very brave, as what they have said is enough to get them 30 years incommunicado in Belmarsh. Though they probably won’t have their children raped in front of them.

    As for more hilarity with Korans and lavatories, I’m afraid I’m still crap with HTML links but may I refer you to comments 136 and 158 on the Crooked Timber topic
    "Onward Christian Soldiers".

  7. Two questions.

    If a Koran is flushed down a lavatory, how many people are killed as a result?

    If a newspaper falsely publicises the allegation that a Koran was flushed down a lavatory, how many people are killed as a result?

  8. a) If a Koran is flushed down a lavatory, how many people are killed as a result?

    That we don’t know. If it’s the last straw that breaks a man’s will, which was the object of the exercise, and he betrays his neighbours to the executioner as a consequence it could be dozens, hundreds, it doesn’t appear to be over yet.
    The reason we don’t know is that the flushers, in cahoots with the executioners, aren’t telling us.

    b) If a newspaper falsely publicises the allegation that a Koran was flushed down a lavatory, how many people are killed as a result?

    That we may know. Do you mean "publicises the false allegation" or "falsely publicises that there is an allegation"? Either way none, because neither of the above is what happened, so it’s much more of an imaginative stretch than a) above.

  9. Don’t be a troll, Dave. You didn’t hear me condoning torture and murder. You know perfectly well why the badness of flushing a Koran down the toilet does not consist of the wetting of paper. You mention rape: the badness of rape does not consist of the mere fact of sexual intercourse.

    For the benefit of any non-trolls wishing to hear my views: if a Koran has been flushed down the toilet on this or any other occasion I count it as abusive behavior on the part of the guards that should be punished, but not torture. A significant part of its badness is in its predictable effect of inflaming riots. Same goes for the alleged smearing of menstrual blood discussed in an earlier post on this blog.

  10. "Journalism [...] carried out by sensible people with generally honest motives"

    If you believe that, you’ll believe anything!

  11. #1 is certainly true; it’s been reported, and not denied, in the UK press for months.

    The lack of a denial is not proof.

    It’s been confirmed by the British prisoners released from Guantanamo.

    None of whom have any ulterior motives in doing so.

  12. "Are you willing to accept the general rule that "Reported and not denied in the British press = true"?
    If so, I hope it’s OK if I bear it in mind and quote it back to you for years in other contexts. Same goes for "what former British Guatanamo detainees say = true", although that one might be less entertainingly pro-Tory."

    Why is this pro-Tory? Are you a Tory?

  13. I think Natalie’s point was that the British newspapers frequently print pro-Tory lies, and therefore if one were to accept "printed in British newspaper = true", then that would involve us (as lefties) conceding a lot of things we really wouldn’t want to concede.

  14. "if a Koran has been flushed down the toilet on this or any other occasion I count it as abusive behavior on the part of the guards that should be punished, but not torture. A significant part of its badness is in its predictable effect of inflaming riots."

    Then we agree. So what’s the beef? That it isn’t true? But it is true. There’s too much confirmation (see the references), plus it’s the sort of thing they do.

    "You didn’t hear me condoning torture and murder"

    I saw you ignoring torture and murder. They torture and murder. They flush the Koran down the lavatory. Why not? They’re torturers and murderers after all. Their consciences aren’t going to get in the way, are they?

  15. > I saw you ignoring torture and murder.

    The great thing about these online arguments is being able to go back and check what people said when a silly accusation like that is made. I’ve just double-checked what Natalie wrote. I’d be simply fascinated to know at what point she ignore torture and murder. You probably have to be dead clever to spot it.

    YAAT.

  16. "I think Natalie’s point was that the British newspapers frequently print pro-Tory lies, and therefore if one were to accept "printed in British newspaper = true", then that would involve us (as lefties) conceding a lot of things we really wouldn’t want to concede. "

    Yes, that’s true. Imagine if someone said, ‘It’s in a blog, so it must be true’.

  17. The Newsweek story is old news. Today brings us the US military declaring war on Britain’s most beloved tabloid, the Sun (prop. Rupert Murdoch). Fingers crossed that Rebekha Wade and Trevor Kavanagh, at least, end up wearing orange jump-suits in a detention camp somewhere, being tortured until they name their sources.

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