We deeply regret factual errors in our report on abuse and humiliation of detainees in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba. The criticism from Pentagon spokesman Bryan Whiteman was correct - our report was "irresponsible" and "demonstrably false." Though it may be impossible to fully restore our credibility now, we would like to make corrections here that are as specific as possible.
Past reports from FBI and other sources confirm that Guantanamo Bay detainees are shackled and chained to the floor for days, while being subjected to extreme cold, loud music and wrapped in an Israeli flag. These prisoners ultimately urinate or defecate on themselves. These prisoners have no toilets.
Thus when Newsweek quoted an anonymous source saying that interrogators had "flushed a Qur'an down a toilet," it was physically impossible - a blatant demonstration of bad faith from our source, and of dereliction on Newsweek's part. Any Qur'an hurled into a prisoner's excrement and urine in this context would never have been in contact with any toilet. Our report was simply wrong.
This is likewise true even of detainees who have not
been shackled to the floor. Guantanamo Bay detainees' cells have no toilet
, though they may contain a bucket that sometimes serves that function. So in hindsight, the anonymous source for our quote was clearly lying. Moreover, reports confirm that some detainees have been offered their meal portion in the bucket - suggesting that the detainee bucket should not be referred to "a toilet" since it does not serve that exclusive function.
Finally, it should be obvious that while a bucket can be flushed out with water, it can not be "flushed" - so again, it would be physically impossible to "flush a Qur'an down [a detainee's] toilet." Corroborating reports confirm that Korans were actually kicked, thrown down and repeatedly dropped in the soiled buckets by guards and interrogators - never flushed - and that in every case it was an accident.
Again, we apologize for these grave errors, for the shoddy reporting and poor editing accountability that led us to publish the incorrect report, and for the worldwide outrage and violence that resulted. We know that once the truth has been widely circulated, the reputation of the United States can be properly restored.
Mark Whitekar, Editor
Michael Isikoff, Reporter