The Corner

More Gitmo

If anything bad ever happened to the Koran at Gitmo we now are going to find out about it, given the bout of fresh reporting generated by the Newsweek flap. And whatever that was will be used as a way to vindicate the magazine. My guess is that there won’t be anything as extreme as the alleged Koran-flushing incident (but one reason the Pentagon was slow in rebutting the Newsweek report was that after Abu Ghraib no one wants to be caught saying “never,” just because you never know). A Koran was definitely dropped on the floor, creating a protest at Gitmo. And it is probably the case that something prompted the January 2003 memo that set up very strict standards for handling the Koran. But Gitmo is less likely to have produced the sort of unauthorized abuses that we had at Abu Ghraib. My understanding is that the interrogations there are obsessively logged and reported in true Bob Graham-fashion. From what I gather, the out-of-ordinary, tough measures were applied almost exclusively to two detainees with connections to the 9/11 plot. The difficulty for the administration is 1) that there won’t be any Abu Ghraib-style defense because all of the pressure tactics were almost certainly specifically authorized by Pentagon officials; 2) (and this goes to the kind of points Jonah and Andy have been making) the tactics involved things deliberately meant to push the detainees’ cultural buttons, such as sexually suggestive female interrogators. Now, that doesn’t shock my conscience, but given the standard of cultural sensitivity that has been set in the Newsweek flap, it’s going to put the administration in a tough spot.

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