Tuesday, May 17, 2005


Slate-Today's Papers: Flush with Embarrassment - Newsweek's backdown on flushing Kurans at Gitmo - May 17

Posted Tuesday, at 12:37 AM PT

By Eric Umansky

The LAT and NYT front the Newsweek crying mercy and formally "retracting" its story that alleged alleging that Gitmo guards once threw a Koran in the toilet. The Post—which owns Newsweek (and Slate)—stuffs the move. The magazine originally backed away from the story Sunday, acknowledging in guarded language, that the single, anonymous source appeared to be a suffering from a Senior Moment and couldn't recall exactly where he read the allegation. The original story had said it would appear in a coming government report. The magazine's fuller backdown came after the White House continued to complain, loudly. Detainees have long alleged that guards tossed Korans in the toilet, but this was the first time a government official had seemed to confirm it.

The NYT says a former Gitmo translator recalled that a top officer once apologized for (non-flushing) mistreatment of the Koran. As the Post notes, the Pentagon has two-year-old policy on the proper handling of Korans at Gitmo, saying that only Muslim service members can hold them and even then only with gloves. The prison had been open for a year before the memo was penned.

Slate's Jack Shafer flags a little noticed part of the blunder by Newsweek: The magazine "let its anonymous source predict the contents of a future government document."

The Washington Post leads with Democrat and Republican Senate leaders announcing the death of negotiations to avoid a war on the filibuster. Still, the "nuclear option" isn't a sure thing. A bipartisan group of senators, led by John McCain (R-Ariz.) and Ben Nelson (D-Neb.), has apparently been chatting and will now purportedly kick into high gear. USA Today leads with a preview of the potential filibuster showdown, saying Republicans aren't sure they have the votes to kill it.

The New York Times leads with the Iraqi government, in a peace-offering to Sunnis, promising not to raid mosques. Iraqi insurgents have sometimes used mosques as mini-bases. The NYT says the ban on searching them will apply to both U.S. and Iraqi troops, the first time the Iraqi government has put a crimp on American military action. The Wall Street Journal goes high with yesterday's death toll in Iraq: about 20 people, including four engineering students killed when a rocket hit a university in Baghdad. Nine people were killed in two car bombings in Baghdad. Another five were killed by a suicide bombing near the Syrian border.

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