From the New York Times:
A military inquiry has found that guards or interrogators at the Guantánamo Bay detention center in Cuba kicked, stepped on and splashed urine on the Koran, in some cases intentionally but in others by accident, the Pentagon said on Friday.
The splashing of urine was among the cases described as inadvertent. It was said to have occurred when a guard urinated near an air vent and the wind blew his urine through the vent into a detainee’s cell. The detainee was given a fresh uniform and a new Koran, and the guard was reprimanded and assigned to guard duty that kept him from contact with detainees for the remainder of his time at Guantánamo, according to the military inquiry.
The investigation into allegations that the Koran had been mishandled also found that in one instance detainees’ Korans were wet because guards on the night shift had thrown water balloons on the cellblock.
In another case, a two-word obscenity was written in English on the inside cover of a Koran, but investigators could not determine whether a guard or detainee had written it.
Anybody who’s ever been the victim of bullying, like having your locker trashed at school or having your math book “accidentally” tossed in a urinal in the boys’ bathroom knows exactly what went on at the POW camps. I’m just surprised that there aren’t reports of wedgies, noogies, and swirlies.
And here’s another howler:
The military released the findings of the investigation about 7:15 p.m., Eastern time, well after the broadcasts of the network television evening news programs. A Pentagon spokesman, Bryan Whitman, denied that the military was trying to bury bad news late on a Friday night, a tactic often used by government agencies. “It was completed and we try not to hold these things after their reviews are completed,” Mr. Whitman said in a telephone interview.
Yeah, that’s the ticket. The dog ate it.
Meanwhile, Amnesty International responds to Bush in a letter to the New York Times:
To the Editor:
President Bush’s characterization of Amnesty International’s criticisms of United States human rights abuses as “absurd” is ironic (news article, June 1).
If our reports are so “absurd,” why did the administration repeatedly cite our findings about Saddam Hussein before the Iraq war? Why does it welcome our criticisms of Cuba, China and North Korea? And why does it cite our research in its own annual human rights reports?
No amount of spin can erase the myriad human rights abuses committed by United States officials in the “war on terror.” The United States cannot simultaneously claim that it “promotes freedom around the world” while detaining tens of thousands at Guantánamo Bay, Bagram Air Base in Afghanistan and in Iraq and other locations without charge or trial and allowing those civilian and military officials responsible for orchestrating a systematic policy of torture to escape accountability.
Instead of attacking us, President Bush should insist upon a truly thorough, independent investigation of those who tried to circumvent global prohibitions on torture, and he should open all detention centers to scrutiny by independent human rights groups.
Only then will the world be able to judge whether it is Amnesty International or the president whose perspective deserves to be called “absurd.”
Well, it sounds like somebody owes somebody some apologies. Start with the American public. Then maybe give Newsweek a call.