Whitaker is right. He should have foreseen the consequences on the Muslim “street” if he published an account, verified by a government source, of the United States of America desecrating a Quran by flushing it down the toilet. He might have considered whether that information would cause damage to our foreign relations and put our troops at increased risk. But Whitaker is not the person who decided to use religious humiliation and Quranic desecration as an interrogation technique. Someone else made that decision, and Rumsfeld signed off on it.
That makes the following all the more galling:
As Susan has made abundantly clear, there are multiple sources for Quranic desecration. In no way can the Pentagon claim that these charges are “demonstrably false”. In fact, they fit neatly into a pattern of abuse and sacrilege that we have seen emerge again and again.
It is no secret that we are torturing people, that we are using proxies to torture people, that we have been serial violators of the Geneva Conventions, that we have killed numerous captives, that we have tried to exploit Muslim concepts of ritual cleanliness by smearing fake menstrual blood on detainees and then denying them water for washing.
We may have used fake Qurans to flush down the toilets. It hardly matters if they were fake.
The salient point is this: We know Newsweek got the story right. And we know they, and their source, are retracting the story now because it is the national interests to do so. Fine.
But let’s be clear about where the blame falls. We can have this pantomime of outrage and lashing of Newsweek… it’s all part of the retraction process. But the real retraction would be the reversal of the decision to keep Donald Rumsfeld on as Secretary of Defense.