On our weekly radio show, we always begin with “the week in review.” But currently, the news is coming so thick and fast, a day’s worth is all we can keep up with.
The Pentagon struck back today, calling Newsweek’s report of a Koran flushed down a toilet at Guantanamo Bay “irresponsible” and “demonstrably false.” Pentagon spokesman Bryan Whitman is worth quoting at length:
What we know is that the Newsweek story about a Koran desecration is demonstrably false, and thus far there have not been any credible allegations of willful Koran desecration, and Newsweek hasn’t produced any such evidence either.
The fact is Newsweek hid behind anonymous sources, which by their own admission don’t withstand any sort of scrutiny. The unfortunate part about it is you can’t go back and undo or retract the damage that they’ve done not only to this nation, but those who have been hacked, injured and some even killed as a result of these false allegations.
Newsweek, which began by arguing that its story could possibly be true, even though the magazine’s sources had no knowledge one way or the other, has now retracted the story.
I want to comment briefly, too, on one aspect of Evan Thomas’s explanation of what went wrong at Newsweek, as quoted by the Trunk earlier today. Thomas said that the magazine verified its story by running it past an anonymous government official who objected to another error, but didn’t say anything about the Koran story. Thomas wrote:
The official had not meant to mislead, but lacked detailed knowledge of the SouthCom report.
I find that rather astonishing. This anonymous official was the proverbial “second source” that supposedly verified Newsweek’s story. (Source number one was also anonymous.) I’ve always wondered why the mainstream media make so many mistakes, notwithstanding ostensible “two source” policies. Maybe this explains it. The second source “lacked detailed knowledge of the SouthCom report.” When, exactly, did Newsweek figure this out? Isn’t having knowledge one of the prerequisites for being a source? Did Newsweek only investigate its source’s knowledge after it learned its story was wrong? Or does it routinely accept people who “lack detailed knowledge” as sources?
In other news, Senator Norm Coleman’s Subcommittee on Investigations released a report indicating that senior Russian politicians were bribed by Saddam Hussein, who slid them millions of dollars under the “oil for food” program. What is striking to me is how senior these Russian politicians were. The former chief of staff for Vladimir Putin was implicated, as was nationalist (and anti-American) politician Vladimir Zhirinovsky.
Meanwhile, George Galloway has followed through on his offer to testify before Coleman’s committee. He arrived in Washington today and apparently will testify tomorrow. Galloway is, to put it mildly, unrepentant.
There are lots of “lawyers” in the House and Senate, but Norm Coleman is a lawyer. It’s been a while since he was in the courtroom, and no doubt he’s a little rusty. But if he decides to cross-examine Galloway himself, fur will fly. I wish I could take off tomorrow morning (I think Galloway’s appearance is scheduled for the a.m.) and watch it–assuming it’s televised somewhere.
Finally, events in the Senate are moving rapidly toward a conclusion. Richard Lugar and other Republicans expressed confidence that they have the votes to confirm John Bolton. Ted Kennedy, on the other hand, said today that “Democrats have yet to settle on a strategy for the Bolton nomination.” Looks good to me.
UPDATE: Senator Coleman’s office advises us that tomorrow’s hearing will be webcast. Here is how to access it:
GO TO: www.hsgac.senate.gov
GO TO: “Hearings” – “All Hearings”
SCROLL DOWN to May 17th hearing — Link for webcasting will be there.