Thursday, May 26, 2005

Beating A Dead Horse That They Killed

I'm tired of yelling till I'm blue in the face about the ways in which the administration, all the way up to its highest-ranking members, enabled torture and abuse of prisoners. I'm tired of talking about how no one is ever going to face justice for the administration's crimes.

But of course, there's yet more news about torture, because the practice of torture continues, the administration continues to deny that it continues, the administration continues to take an official position against "torture," and the administration's apologists---the torture apologists---continue to eat great big smoldering mouthfuls of one another's shit under the impression that it's rare steak.

The fine details this time are (surprise!) that even though Newsweek ran a poorly-sourced story, various forms of Koran-desecration, including, yes, flushing, were used on a widepread basis in an asinine attempt to break Muslim prisoners down. Via Andrew Sullivan, here's a reptilian response from John Podhoretz (who should be shunned by decent society---all I'll say re: his comments is that most of the detainees are not, pace Jawn, al Qaeda, and many are in fact guilty of misdemeanors if guilty of anything). John Cole, a conservative who is not in hock to the administration, has a slightly different take:

I guess that means we need a talking points update:

1.) Newsweek Lied, People Died!
2.) The media hates the military.
3.) Why are they using anonymous sources?
4.) 1.) Why is the media recycling old stories?
5.) 2.) You can't trust those terrorists.
6.) 3.) Even if it is true, you shouldn't publish it- we are at war.
7.) 4.) You can't trust Newsweek and the Washington Post Reuters.
5.) What about the children?

Andrew noted that a further option was silence, which had been the one Glenn Reynolds preferred at the time of Andrew's posting. But Glenn's got something to say, and it doesn't disappoint. For starters, he gives a deadpan excerpt from a Howard "Conflict O'interest" Kurtz column:
Newsweek made a specific error, saying this would be in a forthcoming military investigative report, and had to apologize and retract. But that never meant there was no Koran desecration--in fact, The Post reported such a charge in 2003 (as did other outlets later), but the charges were always attributed to detainees.
Now, Reynolds initially claimed that Kurtz seemed to be suggesting that Newsweek was vindicated, and Kurtz, in an Insta-update, indicated otherwise. Which is technically right---Newsweek did botch the sourcing of their story.

The risible thing about this Insta-post (there's one somewhere in every Insta-post of sufficient length) is Reynolds preserving for the record that:
A reader notes a bit of goalpost-moving
The goalpost-moving in question was from an allegation that a Koran was flushed down a toilet to an allegation that a Koran was merely placed in a toilet. You've got to admire Reynolds for suggesting---or was it just a reader's thought, not Reynolds' (one never knows, does one?)---that the difference between actually flushing a Koran and simply soiling it in a toilet is some kind of substantive retreat on the part of those alleging misconduct by US personnel.

But refer back to the excerpt from Kurtz. With the caveat in mind that the allegations come from widespread complaints on the part of detainees in FBI reports, and are not conclusions of the Defense Department---will the Pentagon say that the FBI is publishing useless hearsay?---you've got to doubly admire Reynolds for suddenly being in the position of criticizing the manner in which Newsweek ran the flushing story and some of its finer details as if all along the basic substance of the story seemed probable to him. I guess he was merely passing along the "Newsweek Lied People Died" horseshit with no malice aforethought, in fact so as to protect the press from themselves. Talk about goal-post shifting.


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