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Monday, May 16, 2005

Koran Desecration at Guantanamo

اللغة العربية The Pentagon's investigation into the allegations are not credible and incomplete. The Pentagon's findings are not consistent with the actual training provided to military interrogators.

This note outlines the basis to question Newsweek's retraction. The note also points to links of witness statements about Koran defilement not only at Guantanamo but in Pakistan. Further, this note outlines the basis for questioning the timing of the Newsweek retraction and the geopolitical implications.

Links of interest

There are numberous reports of defiling the Koran worldwide. There is a reasonable basis to question the Pentagon's investigation.

  • Koran desecration consistent with US military training

    US Military personnel are trained to defile the Koran. According to former US military interrogators, Bible abuse part of standard Prisoner Of War [POW] or Survival Evasion Resistance and Escape [SERE] training. The US interrogators learned to defile the Koran during their interrogator training.

  • High probability of occurrence

    It is most likely the Koran desecration occurred [See Wilner].

  • Pervasive: Multiple witnesses worldwide, multiple commands

    HRW report with source and statement Ref.

    2003 desecration reported by Afghan Ehsannullah, 29 in 2003. Koran desecration also occurred in Pakistan.

    Other witnesses to the Koran desecration allegedly prompted a change in policy.

    Recall the Americans confirmed hunger strikes, precipitated by Koran desecration. What is curious is that the Abu Ghraib prisoners were considered credible by General Taguba; it is likely there are Americans who can corroborate the claims.

  • Gonzalez and Rumsfeld endorsed torture in JTTF CIFA rendition program

    Torture was related to the rendition policy and linked with Isikoff's findings that the CIA, JTTF, and CIFA used GulfStreams to transport prisoners to nations condoning torture. The rendition policy violates the conventions.

    White House efforts to silence discussion

    Despite the many witnesses to the Koran desecration, Rumsfeld stated:
    QUOTE: "People need to be very careful about what they say, just as they need to be very careful about what they do." ENDQUOTE
    More of the White House-speak.

    Basis to Impeach the President and/or hold the President accountable for war crimes

    The reason the White House and Pentagon are denying the allegation is that this would form the basis to impeach the President for War crimes: He knew about the conduct, endorsed it, and failed to stop it.


    20 May 2005: London Demonstrations calling for another 9-11 on NYC. [Protests also in Calcutta, India; Somalia; West Bank]

  • White House Strategy

    The objective of intimidating Newsweek to retract the story is to dissuade the world from holding the President accountable for war crimes.

    Also, the other objective is to discredit the messenger of inconvenient news. Recall how the US treated the UN inspectors. Because there was no WMD, the inspectors would never find them; thus there would be no reason to invade. So, Bush et al continued to assert that there were weapons, but the problem was with the inspectors.

    Same thing happened with the Hutton Inquiry into the BBC. In light of the MI6 memo, we know that the BBC was correct in saying that the intelligence was sexed up.

    This is no different than what the US has done to Newsweek: The policy is to protect the President, and discredit any credible news source that sways public opinion, even if the fundamental facts are correct.

    In short, the leaders cannot win on the basis of logic; they simply decide policy and shape facts and opinion to justify unlawful wars and ignoring the laws. Those who object face the consequences of having the rules rewritten. Thus, the Patriot Act II is changing the rules on warrants, despite the Constitution which says warrants can be issued only on probable cause.

    Discussion: Original Points

    Newsweek reported that US military personnel at Guantanamo had desecrated the Koran. Riots subsequently broke out in Pakistan and across the Muslim world. NYT reports that 17 people had been killed. [Other ]

    Newsweek then retracted the reports.

    Curiously, the initial news release was based on what Newsweek referred to as plural sources; yet the retraction was based on a single source no longer confident that they had read the claims in the cited documents.

    This note looks at the circumstances around the Koran desecration and explores whether there is any merit to the claims, and what may have prompted Newsweek to retract the story.

    Newsweek originally ran a story explaining how US interrogators at Guantanamo had desecrated the Koran in order to antagonize detainees.

    Given the US willingness to use torture at both Guantanamo and Abu Ghraib it would not be a stretch to believe the United States interrogators had desecrated the Koran.

    Recall that the Office of Special Plans and Secretary of Defense Rumsfeld were both putting pressure on the intelligence community to get information. Attorney General Gonzalez and Donald Rumsfeld both reviewed documents stating torture was justified.

    Desecrating the Koran Within Scope of Possibility

    It is not credible to presume that the United States would not desecrate the Koran but would lie about WMD and torture despite evidence to the contrary.

    In Western culture, it is considered more egregious to attack one physically than desecrate a book.

    However, the Koran is not simply a book like a bible that one might accidentally leave on the top of their car. Rather, the Koran is considered a sacred document, inspired by God.

    Rather, the United States has shown a disregard for international law, human rights, going so far as to lie before the US Supreme Court about whether torture occurred at Guantanamo.

    On the contrary, Western culture has already shown that it doesn't’t respect the life of their own citizens, regardless their faith. 42 USC 1983 claims are not uncommon related to police intimidation and civil rights violations in cases where law enforcement wants to make evidence go away.

    Initial Government Responses Telling

    The other problem with the entire chain of events is that the initial reports that the Koran were desecrated were met with, “We’ll look into that,” not with a resounding retraction.

    It was only when the riots broke out that the US government realized the gravity of the situation. US troops are currently engaged in combat operations in Iraq. The last thing the coalition of the unwilling needs at this juncture is more fuel for the insurgency.

    Also, Pakistan remains a tenuous ally so long as the United States is perceived as being at war with Islam. In turn, all goodwill the US might have in Indonesia in the wake of the Indian Ocean Tsunami would be lost should the US be treating the Koran in such a manner.

    US has already violated interrogation standards

    Subsequent to the riots, US military personnel were quick to point out that the allegations of Koran desegration were problematic. Some military personnel argued that Army Survival Evasion Resistance and Escape [SERE] training is “much worse” than what happened at Guantanamo.

    These accounts have no credibility. First, photographic evidence documents the abuses. Second, courts martials already convicted military personnel of war crimes. Third, SERE training does not actually inflict bodily torture.

    US Interrogators are Undisciplined

    Other assertions made by US military personnel are absurd. One claim is that SERE interrogators would never do this [meaning, “They are trained and know better.”] Small problem. The evidence we have before us is that despite this training, US military personnel did engage in torture; it is not uncommon for the US military apply what they expect the enemy to do to their own interrogations.

    In other words, the US fully expects its Airmen to face a fully spectrum of abuse in violation of the Geneva Convention. It is not a giant leap to presume the US interrogators within JTTF and CIFA learn these techniques to prepare their own servicemen during SERE training; and also share lessons learned with domestic law enforcement.

    Again, we have video and still image evidence of torture; and the US has a veracity problem in re WMD and torture investigations. Many are quick to dismiss evidence as only rumors, and then they escape public accountability when the photographs surface proving otherwise.

    Arguments shifting blame to detainees are without foundation

    It is also absurd to suggest that Moslems would have desecrated the Koran themselves. Again, they view the Koran as the work of God, not some book to be thrown into the corner. Also, Moslems would never use a holy document to clean themselves. That’s not how they take care of their personal hygiene.

    The other assertion made by US military personnel is that the accounts of Koran desecration should not be believed. Reportedly, the Pentagon has asserted that the actual Koran desecration was by a prisoner who flushed the document down the toilet.

    This is problematic and has no credibility. First, we get back to the holy work of God. Muslims would never use the Koran in this way. But it is well within the scope of possibility that the Americans did so.

    It is more likely this version of the “source of the claims about Koran desecration” is an effort to shift the responsibility to the victim, hose who have no voice or admissible evidence. Further, this is merely a tactic of accusing the accuser of engaging in the misconduct.

    US asks that two standards of evidence be applied

    We hear of no evidence. Rather, it is curious that the US can find “no evidence” that the US engaged in the conduct; but are quick to come up with an equally ridiculous story that Muslims did so. Why is there a double standard: Why is the US able to dismiss allegations of misconduct so easily; but then turn around and make implausible accusations?

    The answer is: The United States knows it has a problem and is hoping to get out of this. The United States has already shown that it will lie before the UN, supreme Court, and American people about WMD and torture. Lying about what they did to the Koran is considered “just something that they have to do” to protect their interests. Indeed, the US government’s approach to integrity is, “Sometimes you have to cross the line” and “We lie all the time.”

    Thus, there is no merit to the argument that the allegations about the Koran desecration are to be discounted. On the contrary, the allegations must have come from somewhere.

    Questionable levels of evidence

    At this juncture, the US is not saying that the desecration did not occur. It is only saying that they were not able to corroborate the claims.

    Yet, this is not satisfying. Because we know from the torture allegations that multiple reports have been corroborated.

    It was only when outside legal pressure form the United Kingdom was the US glacially responsive to questions about torture.

    Yet, which torture-targets while being interrogated have access to evidence that they were being tortured? The only catalyst for action wasn’t a single claim, but multiple reports that tended to side with the detainees. This was before the photographs surfaced.

    What is to be done

    Those making allegations the United States has desecrated the Koran need to be given their day in court. Whether this is in an actual court or in the court of public opinion is of no consequence.

    What is important is to find out what happened. At this juncture, I would like to see those who are making these claims to be afforded the benefit of the doubt and given lie detector tests. I suspect that they will pass these tests.

    Also, I would like to hear a better explanation from Newsweek for their retraction. I am not convinced their retraction was free from intimidation, threats, or other persuasion from the US government.

    Multiple lines of evidence

    Most disturbing is the allegation that Newsweek’s original reports were based on multiple sources. Indeed, if this is true, then we would have a good basis to dive into the multiple lines of evidence available: FBI 302s, e-mail traffic between Guantanamo Navy IG and DoJ; and the subsequent visits by the Senate Foreign Relations committee in November 2002.

    What is most curious about this entire chain of events are the other investigatory actions. Supposedly Marion E. “Spike” Bowman was sent to Guantanamo at the behest of the NSC, NAVY, DoJ, and NSA to find out what happened and essentially clean up the mess.

    Small problem. Bowman has yet to explain the entire evidence chain. We remain unclear why, despite his visits and subsequent abuse investigations, are we now hearing additional reports.

    Look to the source of the allegations

    To be clear, the West looks at Koran desecration as minor relative to torture. Both are equally capable of being done.

    For the initial reports to have entered into any format or report, those reports must have come from somewhere. It is not likely that someone inside the FBI or NAVY made up these reports. Rather, these reports are from prisoners.

    That the Navy and other investigators have been unable to corroborate the reports doesn’t mean that the desecration didn’t occur. It only means for the purposes of an administrative hearing that there were no independent sources of information to corroborate the claim.

    However, we’ve seen that personnel will lie to avoid discipline. It was only when the abuses were on photographic evidence that the previous denials about torture fell apart.

    We have yet to get a clear accounting of how these reports about desecrating the Koran appeared in any report. At this point, it doesn’t matter whether the report was draft or final, only that the allegations moved from the prisoner to the investigator then to a written document.

    It is not likely that the allegations came from non-Prisoners.

    However, DoD would have us believe that the claims of Koran desecration are not to be believed, or that the reports were based on problematic reports. Small problem. If this is to be believed [that the information in the reports is not corroborated], how did the information get into the report; who else knew about it; what was done to investigate; and which prisoner made the allegations?

    This is not to suggest that the Pentagon knows. Bluntly, the only explanation for the Pentagon’s outrage only after the riots is that the original response self-evidently was unpersuasive. The Pentagon now knows that the world knows that the Pentagon has been juggling multiple versions of this story.

    For any information to wind up in a report, there must have been a non-US source for that information.

    Failure to deny information contained in a report

    Moreover, the problem with the Newsweek retraction was that the source [TBD] has said that they couldn’t remember whether they read the allegation in the final report, a draft, or somewhere else. This doesn’t mean that the report never occurred, only that the source has selectively had a memory problem.

    But what the source does confirm is that they did, in fact, read the allegation. Again, it’s not likely that they read this information based on some fiction a non-Prisoner dreamed up.

    Rather, we do not know whether the “other material that they read” was an FBI 302, e-mail traffic, a post-interrogation report, or a transcript of a video. Either way, there are original documents that exist beside a draft or final report.

    IN other words, even if the number of sources were to drop from many to one, we have yet to understand why the source still claims that the information was in a written format.

    We hear of no evidence that the interrogators were actively writing e-mails during interrogations; or that during interrogations there were scribes in the room; nor that there were FBI agents writing 302s during the course of the events.

    On the contrary, during an interrogation involving torture the reason they do commit torture is that they believe [rightly or wrongly] that their conduct is not a problem, and there are no problems, concerns, or questions about their conduct; and the conduct is not being documented for purposes of doing a post-interrogation review.

    JTTF and CIFA also have a problem. Both agencies are fully aware that they advertised to the intelligence community the great benefits of being assigned to Guantanamo. Many personnel cycled through.

    Despite the international laws prohibiting torture, CIFA and JTTF would like the world to believe that the abuses were isolated. Again, we’re not talking about Abu Ghraib, but the videos of torture collected in Guantanamo.

    These tapes served multiple purposes: To act as a record of what happened; to document methods to glean information; and create a set of tools for interrogator instructors to pass on lessons learned not only across CIFA and JTTF but also to the wider US law enforcement community.

    The point being: If there are allegations which triggered someone to write an account of desecrating the Koran, these allegations would be based on hearing about the events in other places.

    Again, we’re not talking about the rules of evidence. Rather, we’re looking at what most likely occurred without regard to whether the rules of evidence require a slight chance, 50% of overwhelming evidence as the burden of proof.


    The United States has a credibility and torture problem. Desecrating the Koran is considered in the non-Muslim word a “no big deal.”

    It is likely that the US interrogators did commit these acts, and that the reports were documented. It is also likely that US military personnel desecrated the Koran thinking it was a reasonable method to glean information.

    The US initial response and lack of denial are telling. The US underestimated the requirements in Iraq. It also continues to underestimate the backlash over desecrating the Koran. The United States has no credibility in detainee rights or treatment. They’ve already lied about WMD, torture before their highest court.

    All denials at this point will likely be rejected. The original source didn’t fully retract their statement. They continue to assert that they read the allegations of desecration of the Koran “somewhere.” This information didn’t come out of the blue, but is linked to something a prisoner saw or experienced.

    The real driver behind the Pentagon’s outburst has nothing to do with truth or accountability, but in keeping the Persian Gulf oil supply open. Quite absurd, given it was the allegations that Saddam’s presence posed a threat.

    The real threat is the world backlash against the United States could very well actually precipitate the actual events the US speculated would occur should Saddam remained in power. There are now calls to have the Americans withdraw from Afghanistan.

    The US no longer has a convenient scapegoat. He is in jail. Writing his memoirs. This problem lies squarely with the Americans. Their only solution is to put pressure on Newsweek, get the story retracted.

    It is likely that Newsweek was threatened in terms of “this could start WWIII”. Newsweek may be a member of the media, but it is within the scope of possibility that Newsweek was persuaded to retract the assertions because the geopolitical issues.

    At stake is not just the Western war against the Iraqi insurgency, but whether the post 9-11 world and alliances will remain in tact. Given the deteriorating situation in Uzbekistan, it is likely the western alliance will crumble.

    But this does nothing about publicly discussing facts.

    In turn, Indonesia’s post-Tsunami goodwill toward the US will evaporate. The Iranians will gain greater prestige in the Sunni triangle.

    The situation in Iraq was already spiraling into a civil war. The reports of desecrating the Koran will be embraced as “most likely happening,” adding fuel to the Iraqi insurgency.

    Planning with Russian

    Going forward, as the situation in Uzbekistan spirals down, it is likely the United States knows that its post 9-11 alliance is falling apart. What is likely is an agreement between the United States and Russia to ‘do what must be done’ to secure the southern Russian border.

    This is not to say that, unlike the 1979 Russian Invasion of Afghanistan, the US would stand by and do nothing should the Russians invade Uzbekistan. Rather, it is likely that the public calls for peace and democracy are hollow, all the White both Russian and the US work together behind the scenes to bring the situation in Uzbekistan under control.


    The President already faces waning public support. The public is fully behind the Democrats in re the Filibuster issue. Some could argue that the President has expended all his political capital he once asserted in the wake of the 2004 election.

    Moreover, claims that the President rode into office on the back of “values” are absurd. The President actually was re-elected on the basis of fiction and intimidation, not truth or integrity.

    The public is seeing through the President. Just as he has no credible plan in re Social Security, so too does Bolton have no plan in re reforming the UN.

    The stakes are high. The world has been fed lies since 9-11. Each day we learn more of what didn’t happen, or other misconduct that was never investigated.

    We’ve had 52 FAA warnings prior to 9-11 that never got looked into. It’s well within the scope of possibility that another series of allegations made about desecrating the Koran were ignored.

    Libya and North Korea

    The other geopolitical issues related to WMD. Libya recently gave up its weapons program. However, if the Koran was desecrated, it is not unreasonable to speculate that the Libyans might retract their WMD renouncement. High on the agenda is for Libya to rejoin the family of nations. The last thing Libya wants to do is rejoin the wrong family.

    High on the agenda for Libya is to save face. They could very well reopen talks with North Korea to require the equipment. In the wake of revelations that the Americans desecrated the Koran, all previous commitments to forego WMD could be deemed waived.

    China and Taiwan

    It is likely that China will recognize the US military forces are stretched thin. Should events in Iraq spiral down as quickly as is likely, China is more likely to put pressure on Taiwan, and could very well exploit the US preoccupation in Iraq.

    The US doesn’t have sufficient combat forces to fight a two theater war.

    It is likely there are moves behind the scenes to mitigate the chances that China will perceive an invasion of Taiwan is likely. Rather, it is more likely that the US, despite the deteriorating trade imbalance with China, will only appear to put pressure on the WTO and ask the Chinese to take a greater lead in putting pressure on North Korea.

    The only real US interest in the Muslim world is related to Israel, Jerusalem, and oil. The recent allegations that the United States desecrated the Koran will put pressure on many fissures.

    The US fears that the entire post Cold War gains could come unraveled, not only putting the post 9-11 goodwill completely to rest, but in precipitating the very violence the US entered Iraq to mitigate.

    Senator Kennedy already spoke of these risks.

    It is likely that the President will orchestrate a diversion. Think of George Bush at this juncture as a caged animal. One that believes it deserves to roam free. The President knows he is getting boxed in: He has limited financial support and resources; and little room to credibly defend the oil fields.

    Targeting independent checks on government abuses

    Although the constitution respects the freedom of the press, the President doesn’t share that concern. This President has committed far greater abuses. To suggest that “it is outside the scope of possibility that they have sent a green light to desecrated the Koran” is absurd.

    It is likely that the President has directed Newsweek’s Isikoff to be targeted, just as NYT Miller was in re WMD or Ambassador Wilson’s wife. Newsweek knows that if the situation is not contained, there could very well be World War III. There were already risks known prior to this event that are simply coming undone.

    In the short term, it is likely that Newsweek wants to protect its sources and be free from White House meddling than it wants to put accountability on the Pentagon or the President.

    In the wake of the CBS reports over the Bush National Guard service, we could expect to see the White House direct the FCC to explore the “problem” with “too much media freedom” or “lack of accountability.”

    The real goal of this review isn’t to get better accountability, but to silence the press when independent perspectives are most needed. Silence in the wake of the Iraq invasion and the lack of evidence in re WMD and 9-11 would be problematic and a signal that the Press hasn’t institutionalized the lessons learned from 2001 or 2003.

    What is most curious is that, despite the 2004 victory, the President is concerned with popular opinion. He has a majority in the Senate, but is stifled with the Bolton nomination.

    The US lied about WMD, 9-11 and torture. They’re also lying again about what happened at Guantanamo.
    The US hopes to deny findings in the report; explain away the multiple sources; avoid accountability for the deteriorating situation in Iraq; and possibly blame any losses in Iraq on Newsweek, the Media, or Isikoff.

    We conclude there is a credible basis to believe the reports about desecrating the Koran and the information exists in some sort of written document, possibly a post-interrogation transcript or an FBI memo.

    At this juncture the only option the US has it to shift the story from "White House and Pentagon leadership failures" to Newsweek. Far too convenient. It remains to be seen what threat or promise the US Government has provided, imposed, offered, or threatened to Newsweek in exchange for the convenient reversal.

    We do not find Newsweek’s retraction credible. The initial reports were based on multiple sources and documents. Conveniently the retraction is based only on a single person. This is problematic.

    The source states he saw the report of the desecration somewhere; the issue isn’t whether the event occurred, but how many different retellings of the same event are required; and what form those subsequent reports existed. This is simply shifting the argument from substance to form and has no foundation.

    It is more likely the FBI memos [plural] and sources in re Koran would point to a single credible retelling of the incident. Indeed, that the allegations have surfaced despite Bowman’s clean-up effort suggests a discontinuity: Heavyweights were unable to make the problem go away and suggests the initial investigations were incomplete.

    It is absurd to suggest that Muslims are looking for an excuse to riot. They have been peaceful in the wake of the Tsunami.

    The real problem is the Pentagon hasn’t been able to cover this up. It is most plausible to believe that someone mentioned this event to the FBI and that information is likely on a 302, then retransmitted to the Senate Foreign Relations committee and/or Navy/DOJ Inspector General’s office via Secure E-mail.

    It is likely that Spike Bowman has a role in cleaning up this mess, and that there is incredible pressure on the military to make this go away. Indeed, the situation in Guantanamo was supposed to have been resolved with the change of command.

    The last thing the President needs in re impeachment is credible evidence that his specific decisions to ‘deal with what he knew” were knowingly insufficient because he was not serious about adhering to international treaties.

    This mess in Guantanamo appears to have Bowman’s name all over it. There is plenty of video transcript, interrogations, and JTTF post-interrogations reports. Copies of these memos and intercepts are outside American’s control and are mostly likely contained in archives within GCHQ.

    Going forward

    The truth lies with the man who was detained and witnessed the desecration. The US is no longer an independent investigator. Outside reviews are needed.

    This is not politics. These are matters of criminal law which have mushroomed into what might be the catalyst for WWIII.

    Domestically, it is likely the President will mobilize the same forces which targeted the RNC-office-attacks.

    Political capital like credibility is not a laurel upon which any man may rest. Even one who puts himself above the law.


    What's most curious is the US wants the world to believe that it respected teh Koran.

    But the US policy toward the detainees was that they were terrorists. The US government's policy toward "terrorists" was to torture them, ignore the Geneva Conventions, and conduct all governmental affairs as if they did not need to be treated as prisoners of war.

    It's absurd to believe the US, that wanted to treat detainees in a manner contrary to the Geneva Conventions, would suddenly care about the Koran.

    The only reason the US "cares" about anything is when it is in the United States' interest to appear that way. The US doesn't actually care about anything, not even the law. It will impose power on anyone it can get away with imposing it on. The US is a bully, just like the British Empire.

    Who's really running the country?