(NOTE: Thanks to Michelle Malkin for linking. Michelle is all over this story, and has also rounded up plenty of other links that are well worth checking out.)
Most of the time, charges of media bias boil down to differences in judgment and opinion. Sometimes, however, the bias is so blatant and brazen that it beggars belief. This is one of those times.
After Newsweek's false report that U.S. guards at the Guantanamo Bay dentention facility flushed a Koran down a toilet, the Pentagon launched its own investigation of the goings-on at Gitmo.
On Friday, it announced the results, which included precisely four isolated instances of Koran "mishandling" by U.S. personnel. In two of these (a water balloon thrown into a cell, and the incident described below) the Koran was not specifically targeted. Once, a Koran was kicked. Once, one was stepped on. And in a fifth incident, a "two-word obscenity" was found inside a Koran but the Pentagon could not conclude whether a guard or a detainee had written it.
And that's it. In fact, the report found that detainees were three times as likely as guards to damage the Koran. As the BBC reports:
Pentagon spokesman Lawrence DiRita said there had also been 15 cases of "mishandling and outright desecration by detainees".So, the findings of the Pentagon report could be fairly summed up as follows: "There were very few instances of disrespectful treatment of the Koran by U.S. personnel, which were dealt with appropriately. Most damage or mistreatment of Korans was perpetrated by the detainees themsleves."
The report said these included "using the Koran as a pillow, ripping pages out of the Koran, attempting to flush a Koran down the toilet and urinating on the Koran".
But that didn't stop Reuters from blaring the following headline:
Jailers splashed Koran with urineWhat image does that headline conjure up in your mind? When I read it, I imagined guards with buckets full of urine, drenching copies of the Koran in stale piss.
That's not exactly what happened.
Reading past the sensational headline, and a lead paragraph that repeats the same claim, we get to the considerably less shocking truth. It turns out there was one (1) instance where a guard left his post and urinated near an air vent. According to the Pentagon report, "the wind blew his urine through the vent" and into a cell block.
Okay, let's be skeptical for a minute and consider the possibility that the guard intentionally peed through the vent to antagonize the prisoners. That's bad behavior, to be sure, but it's not the same thing as deliberately splashing urine on a Koran. Reuters' hysterical headline seems to be based on the report's record of a detainee's comments to guards:
It said a detainee told guards the urine "splashed on him and his Koran."So we have a situation where the detainee felt comfortable telling the guards about one particular guard's misconduct. Sounds like a pretty decent prison environment to me. And how, pray tell, did the cruel American captors respond to his insolence?
The statement said the detainee was given a new prison uniform and Koran, and that the guard was reprimanded and given duty in which he had no contact with prisoners.That seems like the best possible way anyone could have handled the situation. And it emphasizes that the only reason these detainees have Korans in the first place is that the U.S. gave them copies out of respect for their religious beliefs. But that doesn't seem to matter to Reuters, who saw a good opportunity to fan the flames of hysteria and outrage, and took it.
In case the Reuters story changes (which has been known to happen), I've saved a screenshot here.