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: