Newsweek Magazine Retracts Story - - Tyler, Longview, Jacksonville |ETX News

5/17/05-New York

Newsweek Magazine Retracts Story

Newsweek magazine has issued a retraction of a May 9 report on the alleged desecration of the Quran at the U.S. military prison at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba. The report -- which said American interrogators put copies of the Quran on toilets or in one case, flushed one down a toilet -- was blamed for anti-American riots in Afghanistan and elsewhere in the Muslim world last week.

"Based on what we know now, we are retracting our original story that an internal military investigation had uncovered Quran abuse at Guantanamo Bay," Newsweek Editor Mark Whitaker said in a statement issued yesterday afternoon. Newsweek published the item in its May 9 issue.

In the May 23 issue, it reported that its senior government source had backed away from his initial story, and Whitaker wrote that "we regret" that any part of the story was wrong. But the magazine did not completely disavow the story until Monday's statement from Whitaker. That followed remarks earlier in the day from Bush administration officials who called for a full retraction.

In an interview on the PBS "Newshour" last night, Whitaker said the problem stemmed from "one detail." "There were other elements in this story that people are not concerned about," he told PBS.

"This is the one detail everyone is concerned about, and we are prepared to retract that." Senior White House officials applauded Newsweek's decision to retract the story but said the magazine will have to do more to repair the damage done. "It's a good first step," said White House press secretary Scott McClellan.

McClellan said the magazine now has a responsibility to spread the word to the Muslim world that U.S. interrogators "treat the Quran with great care and respect." Another official said it will take a sustained effort by Newsweek to "mitigate the fallout," also calling on the magazine to take steps to spread the word about its retraction to Muslims worldwide. 

Newsweek reported rioting in Afghanistan and "throughout much of the Muslim world" last week had "cost at least 15 lives." Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld said the flap was a reminder that people "need to be very careful about what they say." "People are dead, and that's unfortunate," Rumsfeld told reporters. "People need to be very careful about what they say just as people need to be careful about what they do."

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