Jun 062005

On May 17, Pentagon spokesman Larry DiRita told the public "we’ve not seen specific, credible allegations" of Quran mistreatment by U.S. guards or interrogators. Seventeen days later, the Pentagon acknowledged "that soldiers and interrogators kicked the Muslim holy book, got copies wet, stood on a Koran during an interrogation and inadvertently sprayed urine on another copy." That information was released at 7:15 PM on Friday night, after the evening newscasts, the best time to bury a story. But the specifics of the latest administration deception obscure the larger point: Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld specifically authorized disrespecting one of the world’s largest religions as an interrogation tactic. That ill-conceived policy has endangered the lives of U.S. soldiers and impeded the progress of peace and democracy in the Middle East.

The White House described the Quran mishandling as "a few isolated incidents by a few individuals." But religious degradation was an interrogation tactic approved at the highest levels. In December 2002, Donald Rumsfeld "authorized interrogation tactics at Guantanamo Bay that included the removal of religious items, forced grooming such as shaving facial hair, and removal of clothing." These tactics were "designed to offend Muslims." An investigation of Guantanamo Bay by Vice Admiral Albert T. Church "found cases in which a female interrogator ‘touched and spoke to detainees in a sexually suggestive manner in order to incur stress based on the detainees’ religious beliefs."

Blaming the Messenger

White House Press Secretary Scott McClellan used the administration’s admission of Quran mistreatment as another opportunity to blame the media. McClellan said that it was "unfortunate" that some media outlets "have chosen to take [the incidents] out of context." McClellan stressed that "99.9 percent" of Qurans were not mishandled.

Related Story

In a related story, there are 193 countries in the world – 99.5 percent were not invaded by the United States based on false claims the country possessed weapons of mass destruction…YET

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