Newsweek's Retraction: If this is recanting, what would j'accuse look like?

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The blogosphere is abuzz with the Newsweek “retraction.” But I’ve just finished reading Evan Thomas’ “How a Fire Broke Out” and it sounds more like J’accuse — a reassertion of their accusation — to me.

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They’re just looking for a little wiggle room to double back and run at their target again. Essentially, what they are saying is: “Well, our source at the Pentagon was wrong about the Koran desecration coming out in their own internal investigation, buuuuutttt, it really is happening anyway . . . ” That’s also the line they’re taking over at the Daily Kos. Here’s the j’accuse; the retraction, well, it’s kind of hard to spot:

NEWSWEEK was not the first to report allegations of desecrating the Qur’an. As early as last spring and summer, 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.

On Saturday, Isikoff spoke to his original source, the senior government official, who said that he clearly recalled reading investigative reports about mishandling the Qur’an, including a toilet incident. But the official, still speaking anonymously, could no longer be sure that these concerns had surfaced in the SouthCom report. . .

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.”

More allegations, credible or not, are sure to come. Bader Zaman Bader, . . .claims, as the inmates’ latrines were being emptied, a U.S. soldier threw in a Qur’an. After the inmates screamed and protested, a U.S. commander apologized. Bader says he still has nightmares about the incident.

Let’s be clear: Newsweek isn’t really retracting their story; they are just trying to manage it.

Easy Prediction: they’ll come back with more “evidence.” Howard Fineman told Don Imus this morning that “Mike Isikoff. . .is not a kid trying to break in and score here. He’s not on a holy mission of any kind. . .” (From Michelle Malkin – she’s got more of the transcript, well worth reading.)

Right. So now we know he’s on a holy mission.

In all of this, so far I’ve yet to see anyone refer back to the number one must-read in order to put Toiletgate in perspective. The Winter issue of City Journal featured an article, “How to Interrogate Terrorists,” by Heather MacDonald of the Manhattan Institute.

She completely annihilates this false notion of prisoner abuse. Read it and you’ll see why she won the Bradley Prize. . . and be well-prepared for Round Two.

This issue isn’t going away any time soon.

Thanks also to Scott at Powerline and Tim at Sisyphean Musings. . .

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