Before the righties claim another scalp…

…it’s important to note something about this Newsweek brouhaha: as SusanHu points out at Kos, the allegations they printed were most likely true — and had been previously reported elsewhere.

From The Philadelphia Inquirer, Jan. 20, 2005:

Lawyers allege abuse of 12 at Guantanamo
By Frank Davies
Inquirer Washington Bureau

…Some detainees complained of religious humiliation, saying guards had defaced their copies of the Koran and, in one case, had thrown it in a toilet, said Kristine Huskey [an attorney in Philadelphia], who interviewed clients late last month. Others said that pills were hidden in their food and that people came to their cells claiming to be their attorneys, to gain information.

“All have been physically abused, and, however you define the term, the treatment of these men crossed the line,” [attorney Tom] Wilner said. “There was torture, make no mistake about it.” …

B. From the Center for Constitutional Rights, New York City, NY and linked as a footnote in a Human Rights Watch report:

72.They were never given prayer mats and initially they didn’t get a Koran. When the Korans were provided, they were kicked and thrown about by the guards and on occasion thrown in the buckets used for the toilets. This kept happening. When it happened it was always said to be an accident but it was a recurrent theme.

C. From the Center for Constitutional Rights, New York City, NY and linked as a footnote in a Human Rights Watch report:

74. Asif says that `it was impossible to pray because initially we did not know the direction to pray, but also given that we couldn’t move and the harassment from the guards, it was simply not feasible. The behaviour of the guards towards our religious practices as well as the Koran was also, in my view, designed to cause us as much distress as possible. They would kick the Koran, throw it into the toilet and generally disrespect it. It is clear to me that the conditions in our cells and our general treatment were designed by the officers in charge of the interrogation process to “soften us up”‘.

D. From the Center for Constitutional Rights, New York City, NY and linked as a footnote in a Human Rights Watch report:

Statement of Shafiq Rasul, Asif Iqbal and Rhuhel Ahmed, “Detention in Afghanistan and Guantanamo Bay,” released publicly on August 4, 2004, para. 72, 74, available online at:
accessed on August 19, 2004. The disrespect of the Koran by guards at Camp X-Ray was one of the factors prompting a hunger strike. Ibid., para. 111-117.

This pretty much sums up what’s going on here:

Censorship is what they’re after, and don’t let them tell you otherwise. They announced this goal unmistakably at least a year ago. (Here’s the classic, regret-filled formulation: “And here’s a question: Freedom of the press, as it exists today (and didn’t exist, really, until the 1960s) is unlikely to survive if a majority — or even a large and angry minority — of Americans comes to conclude that the press is untrustworthy and unpatriotic. How far are we from that point?”) Of course, they “regret” that censorship might be necessary. It’s a terrible shame and all that. But damn it, if magazines like Newsweek ARE GOING TO GET PEOPLE KILLED…well, what can we do? We obviously have to shut them up. They brought it on themselves. It’s their own damned fault. Of course, we’d like to have a free press, but THEY’RE GETTING PEOPLE KILLED!

And please, please don’t say it can’t happen here. It did happen here — during World War I and World War II. They want to go back to the good old days, when people got thrown in jail for reading the Bill of Rights in public.

The more enthusiastic proponents of blogging insist that the medium can only enhance the flow of information. You know, information wants to be free, yadda yadda yadda. (If I had a nickel for every time I heard Arianna Huffington using the word “conversation” in some interview last week — well, I would have enough nickels to buy a candy bar or two from a vending machine, at the very least.) Unfortunately it cuts both ways — blogs are equally efficient at shutting down and discrediting inconvenient facts through sheer repetition of — not to put too fine a point on it — complete bullshit. The rightie blogs seem to have formed their own little volunteer Civil Information Defense, vigilantly monitoring all media for possible acts of sedition. Media outlets need to get smart about this stuff and quick, and stop caving in so easily to these morons — because they’re really not going to like the storyline that develops if they don’t.