Those that are shocked by Newsweek's retraction of its story covering interrogation techniques have had their head stuck in the sand for the past couple of years. This retraction is simply the latest in the slow, agonizing decline of the American news media which lost its credibility with me long ago. Newsweek messed up badly, and they are digging themselves a bigger hole by their handling of the situation.

This being said, what is truly sad is fact that the story is believable in the first place. In fact, it is not clear whether the incident with the Koran actually happened or not. Sadly, it is not too far of a stretch to believe that it probably did happen. Their are substantiated stories of the use of sexual techniques to interrogate prisoners, including the smearing of fake menstrual blood on Muslim detainees. Given this fact, it is not too hard to imagine that a Koran would be flushed in a toilet. Add to this the prisoner abuse episodes, and it is no wonder that people can so readily assume the worst. This does not excuse Newsweek for sloppy journalism. However, Newsweek's sloppy journalism definitely does not exonerate the government for its mistreatment of prisoners. Given the vitriolic responses against Newsweek that I've seen from the Pentagon, the Bush administration and FOX pundits, its as if some people want to blame the magazine for all of the criticism that the U.S. has encountered regarding the treatment of its prisoners. These people should remember that much of this criticism is warranted, based on actual events. Blaming the press for one lousy story doesn't excuse mistreatment of prisoners for the past 4 years. Furthermore, what about the fact that the Bush administration itself relied on faulty intelligence when it made its case for war against Iraq. Surely that as much grounds for an apology as Newsweek's reliance on faulty intelligence for one particular story.


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