THE HYSTERIA MOUNTS: We have yet to see what's at the root, if anything, of the Newsweek story. But I think it's telling that some bloggers have devoted much, much more energy to covering the Newsweek error than they ever have to covering any sliver of the widespread evidence of detainee abuse that made the Newsweek piece credible in the first place. A simple question: after U.S. interrogators have tortured over two dozen detainees to death, after they have wrapped one in an Israeli flag, after they have smeared naked detainees with fake menstrual blood, after they have told one detainee to "Fuck Allah," after they have ordered detainees to pray to Allah in order to kick them from behind in the head, is it completely beyond credibility that they would also have desecrated the Koran? Yes, Newsweek bears complete responsibility for any errors it has made; and, depending on what we now find, should not be let off the hook. But the outrage from the White House is beyond belief. It seems to me particularly worrying if this incident further intimidates the press from seeking the truth about what the government is doing in the war on terror. It is not being "basically, on the side of the enemy," as Glenn Reynolds calls it, to resist the notion of government-sanctioned torture and to report on it. It is patriotism and serving the cause that this war is about: religious pluralism and tolerance. The media's Abu Ghraib?? When Mike Isikoff is found guilty of committing murder, give me a call. Austin Bay still insists that Abu Ghraib did not constitute "deadly torture." The corpses found there (photographed by grinning U.S. soldiers) would probably disagree. (Will Bay correct?) Three factors interacted here: media error/bias, Islamist paranoia, and a past and possibly current policy of religiously-intolerant torture. No one comes out looking good. But it seems to me unquestionable that the documented abuse of religion in interrogation practices is by far the biggest scandal. Too bad the blogosphere is too media-obsessed and self-congratulatory to notice.
Exactly right. The Right-wing blogosphere, for the most part, has at every step apologized for and defended the Bush Administration's excesses in the war on terrorism, including the use of torture. They yawned (when they weren't snickering) at the Abu Ghraib revelations, and have generally shown themselves to be a bunch of uncritical, priapic, flag-humping toadies. Their outrage over the maybe innaccurate Newsweek story is as predictable as it is canned.
Then there's this from Spanky McClellan:
"The report has had serious consequences," he said, according to Reuters. "People have lost their lives. The image of the United States abroad has been damaged."
Lessee, if we change "the report" to "President Bush's foreign policy"...hmm.
One senses that the Bushies are relieved to be able to semi-plausibly blame someone else for America's poor image abroad. That is understandable, though it doesn't make their E-Z-Bake indignation any easier to take. Of course, two-point-five seconds later, when reality sets back in, one realizes that Bush blaming the media is like the captain of the Titanic blaming the ship's surly bartender.
Finally, consider this: if Newsweek were run like the Bush Administration, Michael Isikoff and John Barry would be due to receive Medals of Freedom.