Newsweek, der Koran in der Toilettte und die US-Regierung
--- Ja, was denn nun? Erst berichtet Newsweek vergangene Woche, dass US-Gefangenenausfrager in Guantanamo den Koran auf Toilettendeckel gelegt und eines der Heiligen Bücher des Islams sogar hinuntergespült haben sollen. Die kurze Meldung soll mitschuld haben an Aufständen unter anderem in Afghanistan und in Pakistan. Nun distanziert sich das US-Magazin -- anscheinend nach heftigem Druck durch die US-Regierung sehr gewunden von dem Report: At NEWSWEEK, veteran investigative reporter Michael Isikoff's interest had been sparked by the release late last year of some internal FBI e-mails that painted a stark picture of prisoner abuse at Guantánamo. Isikoff knew that military investigators at Southern Command (which runs the Guantánamo prison) were looking into the allegations. So he called a longtime reliable source, a senior U.S. government official who was knowledgeable about the matter. The source told Isikoff that the report would include new details that were not in the FBI e-mails, including mention of flushing the Qur'an down a toilet. A SouthCom spokesman contacted by Isikoff declined to comment on an ongoing investigation, but NEWSWEEK National Security Correspondent John Barry, realizing the sensitivity of the story, provided a draft of the NEWSWEEK PERISCOPE item to a senior Defense official, asking, "Is this accurate or not?" The official challenged one aspect of the story: the suggestion that Maj. Gen. Geoffrey Miller, sent to Gitmo by the Pentagon in 2001 to oversee prisoner interrogation, might be held accountable for the abuses. Not true, said the official (the PERISCOPE draft was corrected to reflect that). But he was silent about the rest of the item. The official had not meant to mislead, but lacked detailed knowledge of the SouthCom report. Given all that has been reported about the treatment of detainees—including allegations that a female interrogator pretended to wipe her own menstrual blood on one prisoner—the reports of Qur'an desecration seemed shocking but not incredible. But to Muslims, defacing the Holy Book is especially heinous. ... similar reports from released detainees started surfacing in British and Russian news reports, and in the Arab news agency Al-Jazeera; claims by other released detainees have been covered in other media since then. But the NEWSWEEK report arrived at a particularly delicate moment in Afghan politics. ... On Friday night, Pentagon spokesman DiRita called NEWSWEEK to complain about the original PERISCOPE item. He said, "We pursue all credible allegations" of prisoner abuse, but insisted that the investigators had found none involving Qur'an desecration. ... Told of what the NEWSWEEK source said, DiRita exploded, "People are dead because of what this son of a bitch said. How could he be credible now?" ... In the meantime, as part of his ongoing reporting on the detainee-abuse story, Isikoff had contacted a New York defense lawyer, Marc Falkoff, who is representing 13 Yemeni detainees at Guantánamo. According to Falkoff's declassified notes, a mass-suicide attempt—when 23 detainees tried to hang or strangle themselves in August 2003—was triggered by a guard's dropping a Qur'an and stomping on it. One of Falkoff's clients told him, "Another detainee tried to kill himself after the guard took his Qur'an and threw it in the toilet." Also letztlich kein Rückzug der Story, sondern allenfalls eine Entschuldigung, und ein ausgeflippter Pentagon-Sprecher. Das letzte Wort dürfte da noch nicht gesprochen sein. Mehr zum Thema u.a. in der New York Times oder in Spiegel Online, in letzterem aber mit falschem Tenor ("zieht zurück").
Update: Newsweek hat die Story inzwischen doch noch ganz offiziell zurueckgezogen -- allerdings weiter aufgrund von Druck aus der US-Regierung. Eine ausführliche Beschreibung des Falls bei PressThink. Heftige Schelte für Newsweek in der FTD von Hans Wagner, Ex-Professor für Kommunikationswissenschaft und Medienforschung an der Ludwig-Maximilians-Universität München. Er fordert eine "Haftungspflicht für Journalisten".
Sonst: U.S. Is Warning North Koreans on Nuclear Test. The Bush administration warned North Korea that if it conducted a nuclear test, the U.S. would take unspecified punitive action, NYT.
Zurückhaltung nach Massaker in Usbekistan.Die Regierung sieht Islamisten hinter den Unruhen und hat Angst vor einem Export der Revolution aus Kirgisien, Telepolis.