Washington: a city of denials, spin, and political calculations. The Nation's former DC editor David Corn spent 2002-2007 blogging on the policies, personalities and lies that spew out of the nation's capital. The complete archive appears below. Corn is now the DC editor at Mother Jones.
Let's consider a Tale of Two Pentagon Press Briefings.
Last week, amidst the fury over Newsweek's Koran-in-a-john item, Pentagon spokesman Lawrence Di Rita told the Pentagon press corps that the Defense Department had received no credible allegations of Koran desecration at Guantanamo. Roll the tape:
Q: Larry, just to be clear, there have been numerous allegations by detainees who have been released --
MR. DI RITA: Mm-hmm.
Q : -- by attorneys who have talked to detainees, alleging mistreatment of the Koran, including instances where it was supposedly thrown into a toilet. Are you saying that none of those allegations were credible, and that none of them have -- have any of them been investigated, and were any substantiated?
MR. DI RITA: We've found nothing that would substantiate precisely -- anything that you just said about the treatment of a Koran. We have -- other than what we've seen, that it's possible detainees themselves have done with pages of the Koran -- and I don't want to overstate that either because it's based on log entries that have to be corroborated.
Don't forget about DAVID CORN's BLOG at www.davidcorn.com. Read recent postings on Senator Dick Durbin's defense of the no-nuke deal and how Corn was spoofed on Saturday Night Live.
That was a pretty clear, categorical statement. Credible allegations of Koranic abuse? Nada, said Di Rita. The next day--as I noted here and elsewhere--the International Committee of the Red Cross blew apart Di Rita's spin when its officials told reporters that in 2002 and 2003 they had reported to the Pentagon that Gitmo detainees were saying that US officials there had dissed the Koran and that the Red Cross considered these accusations credible. Then yesterday, the ACLU released FBI records it had obtained noting that Guantanamo prisoners had complained of disrespectful handling of the Koran. So none of this was credible? Let's be generous to Di Rita and stipulate that. How then does Di Rita explain what was said in the Pentagon press room today when Brigadier General Jay Hood, commander of the Joint Task Force at Guantanamo Bay, briefed the journalistic troops. Roll the next tape:
First off, I'd like you to know that we have found no credible evidence that a member of the Joint Task Force at Guantanamo Bay ever flushed a Koran down a toilet. We did identify 13 incidents of alleged mishandling of the Koran by Joint Task Force personnel. Ten ot those were by a guard and three by interrogators.
We found that in only five of those 13 incidents, four by guards and one by an interrogator, there was what could be broadly defined as mishandling of a Koran. None of these five incidents was a result of a failure to follow standard operating procedures in place at the time the incident occurred.
We have determined that in six additional incidents involving guards that the guard either accidentally touched the Koran, touched it within the scope of his duties, or did not actually touch the Koran at all. We consider each of these incidents resolved.
Waitaminute. Last week Di Rita said there were no credible allegations and, thus, nothing to investigate. Yet today Hood disclosed there were 13 "incidents of alleged mishandling of the Koran," and five were confirmed. It turns out that not only were there credible allegations, there were actual "incidents." Would Di Rita care to explain this? Would he care to retract his briefing, apologize, and promise to do better? Anyone in the WHite House care to express outrage over Di Rita's untruthful assertion?
Speaking of outrage. The White House goes bat-shit over the Newsweek item. But it has little to say when a repressive regime slaughters about 1000 unarmed civilians who were calling for democracy and religious freedom. Why such hypocrisy? Click here to find out.
IT REMAINS RELEVANT, ALAS. SO DON'T FORGET ABOUT DAVID CORN'S BOOK, The Lies of George W. Bush: Mastering the Politics of Deception (Crown Publishers). A NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER! An UPDATED and EXPANDED EDITION is AVAILABLE in PAPERBACK. The Washington Post says, "This is a fierce polemic, but it is based on an immense amount of research.... [I]t does present a serious case for the president's partisans to answer.... Readers can hardly avoid drawing...troubling conclusions from Corn's painstaking indictment." The Los Angeles Times says, "David Corn's The Lies of George W. Bush is as hard-hitting an attack as has been leveled against the current president. He compares what Bush said with the known facts of a given situation and ends up making a persuasive case." The Library Journal says, "Corn chronicles to devastating effect the lies, falsehoods, and misrepresentations.... Corn has painstakingly unearthed a bill of particulars against the president that is as damaging as it is thorough." And GEORGE W. BUSH SAYS, "I'd like to tell you I've read [ The Lies of George W. Bush], but that'd be a lie."
For more information and a sample, go to www.davidcorn.com. And see his WEBLOG there.