Gitmo is a horror. We torture the prisoners there. We torture prisoners in Iraq and we torture them in Afghanistan. Our main method of torture is psychological. We humiliate prisoners in every and any way that the sadists in charge can think of. We insult them, we insult their religion, we attack their pride and their very sense of self.
This has meant treating Islam as a joke and debasing and degrading its beliefs, practices, and its adherents.
It has meant shaving their beards, refusing to let them pray, and subjecting them to all kinds of abuses designed to crush their pride, their egos, their souls.
Did somebody flush a Koran?
Sure, they did.
That's been reported all over the world by journalists who still do their jobs and aren't terrified by Karl Rove.
It happened. Newsweek's "retraction" doesn't deny it happened. All it says is that a government report that it reported says it happened doesn't say that. Some other report does!
But the people of the Middle East don't need that as a reason to hate us and riot in protest. They know we hate and despise Islam. They know we torture prisoners. They know we are killing Iraqi citizens every day and telling their widows, orphans, and suriviving relatives and friends that the dead are better off than they would have been under Saddam. We freed them. They've been democraticized to death.
They know we have a "Christian" president who despite his weak denials that we are not at war against Islam allows to flourish and even encourages a vociferous right wing "Christian" wing in his own party, none of whom are at all shy about proclaiming their hatred of Islam and their belief that we are in fact at war with Islam.
They know we have a general who has declared that Islam is a false religion.
They know we have a loud, incessantly chattering, angry, racist, bigoted and ubiquitious Right Wing propaganda machine that controls the radio, several major newspapers' op-ed pages, a bunch of magazines, an entire television network, and a good chunk of the Internet, and is energetically working to control as much of the rest of the media as it can and bullying into surrender what it can't take control of.
They know that the mouthpieces for this propaganda machine regard torture as fun, think nothing of the deaths of even our own soldiers nevermind Iraqi and Afghani women and children, and can't go a day without insulting, condemning, and, when their guard drops, advocating the eradication of Islam, even if that means killing thousands and thousands of Muslims---conversion by death.
They know that the blowhards are quick to brand any of their fellow Americans who speak out against the torture and the killing and the stupidity and viciousness of the war traitors and recommend, sometimes in code, but often explicitly, violence to shut them up.
They know that one of the most visible and celebrated of the blowhards has been arguing for rounding up and putting into concentration camps American Muslims.
They know what the White House's plans are for Iran.
Did some sadistic cretin flush a Koran down the toilet?
Sure, but it doesn't matter.
We've been spitting on it as a nation for three years now.
The Islamic peoples of the Middle East know this. They've been paying attention to us in a way we are too arrogant to pay attention to them.
They hear President Bush express more anger and outrage at the temerity of Newsweek for reporting facts that make him look bad than he was able to muster at the news that his soldiers had become torturers.
They hear him being more passionate about the black eye to his administration than he was about the death and destruction caused by the tsunami, many of the victims of which were Muslims.
They hear him and his lackeys go on and on about those 16 deaths in the Afghanistan riots and yet say nothing about the hundreds who are dying in Uzbekistan on the orders of one of his few friends.
They know the story is true. That it is true in fact and that, even more damning, it is true symbolically.
As Juan Cole reports, even if the story wasn't true---and, as Cole shows, it is. It's not even news. It's an old story.---the Islamic people of the Middle East don't need this story in order to hate us, fear us, and riot against us.
They know that President Bush doesn't care about the 16 people who died in the riots any more than he cares about the tens of thousands of people who have died in his personal crusade in Iraq. He doesn't care about the Americans who have died. Why would he care about 16 more Muslims?
They know that the President's first instinct upon hearing the story wasn't to apologize or even to look into the incident. It was to set his henchmen the task of discrediting the story, demonizing Newsweek, and bullying the rest of the media into running away from the story. As Arthur Silber makes clear, all the President's men aren't going to stop there.
They are going to use it as a weapon in their campaign to impose censorship on the American press. They are going to try to make sure that no more stories about our despicable war against Islam---the Administration has never been serious about our war against terra; Islam is their enemy---make sure that no more stories like that are heard by the American people so that the Bush Leaguers can continue to do what they've been doing without any more fear of discovery.
Not that they are that afraid. They just don't like the extra work of having to lie to the American people every time the truth threatens to get out.
Update that dares to be skeptical of a fellow blogger's claims of outrage-fatigue: Shakespeare's Sister swears she just can't bring herself to care about this story. Too much of a muchness, as it were. Same old, same old, she explains. I don't know. She sounds angry to me. At any rate, she provides this link to TBogg who provides this link to Keith Olbermann who provides this link to a Dept. of Defense transcript that shows that during the riots General Richard Myers, the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, didn't think they were caused by Newsweek's story.
Nico at Think Progress explains the "mistake" that wasn't a mistake:
Newsweek and its source stand by their stories regarding the use of the Quran during interrogations. The source “clearly recalled reading investigative reports about mishandling the Qur’an, including a toilet incident,” Newsweek says. Indeed, variou s other reports in the media and by NGOs suggest that U.S. interrogators have desecrated the Quran on multiple occassions. The “error” in the Newsweek story is not in whether the desecration happened but in whether or not details about it are included in a new SouthCom report on Guantanamo.
See also Riggsveda at Corrente for links to stories about our methods of torture. Also at Corrente, the Farmer lists a bunch of other news outlets who reported on the desecration of the Koran before Newsweek got around to it.
And then there's this from Riverbend:
Now Newsweek have retracted the story- obviously under pressure from the White House. Is it true? Probably We've seen enough blatant disregard and disrespect for Islam in Iraq the last two years to make this story sound very plausible. On a daily basis, mosques are raided, clerics are dragged away with bags over their heads Several months ago the world witnessed the execution of an unarmed Iraqi prisoner inside a mosque. Is this latest so very surprising?
Detainees coming back after weeks or months in prison talk of being forced to eat pork, not being allowed to pray, being exposed to dogs, having Islam insulted and generally being treated like animals trapped in a small cage. At the end of the day, it's not about words or holy books or pork or dogs or any of that. It's about what these things symbolize on a personal level. It is infuriating to see objects that we hold sacred degraded and debased by foreigners who felt the need to travel thousands of kilometers to do this. That's not to say that all troops disrespect Islam- some of them seem to genuinely want to understand our beliefs. It does seem like the people in charge have decided to make degradation and humiliation a policy.)