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Tuesday, May 17, 2005

White House reaction to Newsweek a "miscalulation"

From Andrew Sullivan's "Email of the Day"

"The White House's spinning of the Newsweek error is a huge miscalculation. It worked with Rathergate, which involved non-existent 30-year old documents related to a tired, worn out story. The White House got the last word because the Bush National Guard story was toast. Does Karl Rove really believe this is the last word on Islam-and-Interrogation?
Rove is daring every media organization in the US to make prisoner abuse a Page 1 story again. What is he thinking? Stories of Koran-abuse are coming - and the harder the White House spins, the worse they'll look when they arrive. For the life of me, I can't understand why Rove didn't just let the story die. The media had nearly convinced itself that prisoner abuse stories don't matter, but Rove has just lit a flame under journalists everywhere."

The White House's high profile attack on Newsweek - and the reliable media pouncing on the story - is a good strategy if the underlying story is untrue and will not be verified by future reporting. But if the story is true - and no one has denied it - then it will surely come out. Worse, it will raise the whole issue of the abuse of Islam in the treatment of prisoners, which goes far beyond merely one alleged incident of a toilet flush. This may not be close to torture, but it sure does violate the Geneva Conventions; more importantly, it's explosive in terms of alienating Muslims we need and winning the broader war.