Member Login

You are not currently logged in.

» Register
» Lost your Password?
Article Archives


The headline on the top of the front page of the New York Times yesterday, May 26, was: "FBI told of Koran abuses." The wording of the headline and the prominence of the display give the casual reader the impression the story — written by Neil Lewis — was new, and that the story was true. Neither is so.

Lewis’ story was based on reports of interrogations by FBI agents of prisoners at Guantanamo Bay in 2002 and 2003. He noted in his third paragraph that "they are accounts of unsubstantiated allegations made by the prisoners under interrogation."

Lewis didn’t mention that these unsubstantiated allegations had been made before. Three Muslims with British citizenship were captured in Afghanistan fighting for the Taliban. After their release they held a press conference in August of last year in which they alleged a variety of abuses by guards, including that they "routinely tossed inmates’ Korans into prison toilets." The charges, for which no evidence has been found, were widely publicized at the time.

Nor did the New York Times mention that an al Qaeda training manual, captured a couple of years ago by British police, instructs detainees to make false charges against their captors.

So why is so much of the media giving so much prominence to a recycled story of unsubstantiated charges made by America’s enemies who have been told to make false accusations if captured?

The immediate answer is to bail out Newsweek, whose reputation suffered when its false story of Koran abuse sparked rioting in which 16 people were killed. But, as Lewis acknowledged deep in his story, "the disclosures yesterday did not lend any new support to the specific assertions in the original Newsweek item."

After its embarrassment, Newsweek engaged in some public soul searching about its use of anonymous sources. But the negligible attention given to a charge by the head of the Newspaper Guild indicates the problem is much bigger than that.

At a meeting in St. Louis May 13, Newspaper Guild President Linda Foley repeated charges made by Eason Jordan, then the president of CNN, in February that U.S. troops were deliberately killing journalists. Like Jordan before her, Foley offered no evidence to support her charges.

The only newspaper in the country to report what Foley said was the Chicago Sun-Times, in a story written by my friend Tom Lipscomb. Apparently most journalists see nothing newsworthy about the head of our union accusing, without evidence, our soldiers and Marines of war crimes.

Newspapers gave prominent coverage to a hysterical report released Wednesday by Amnesty International which accused the United States of "atrocious" human rights violations, and described Guantanamo Bay as "the gulag of our times." These charges — based again on the unsubstantiated allegations of al Qaeda prisoners — would be comical in their gross overreach were they not so vile.

Meanwhile, Jordan’s King Abdullah and former Iraqi Prime Minister Iyad Allawi report Saddam Hussein had a relationship with Ayman al Zawahiri, al Qaeda’s number two, and Abu Musab al Zarqawi, the al Qaeda chieftain in Iraq, years before the war started.

Unlike Amnesty, Abdullah and Allawi have real evidence to support what they said. But no newspaper in the United States has reported it.

Newsweek rushed to print Michael Isikoff’s poorly sourced charge of Koran abuse, but spiked his well sourced report on President Clinton’s affair with Monica Lewinsky, permitting Matt Drudge to scoop him.

Charges that President Bush neglected his Air National Guard duties were given massive publicity, despite the fact they were based on the word of a single deranged man with a grudge, who was not in a position to have firsthand knowledge. Yet charges by most of the officers who served with him that John Kerry lied about his service in Vietnam were given short shrift.

Abuse at Abu Ghraib prison — where no one was killed or even hurt – was given massive attention; Saddam’s mass graves precious little. The news media’s double standard is clear: No evidence is required to publicize charges against Republicans or American soldiers. No amount of evidence is sufficient to publicize charges against Democrats, or America’s enemies.

Jack Kelly is a former Marine and Green Beret and a former deputy assistant secretary of the Air Force in the Reagan administration. He is national security writer for the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette.