Pentagon says detainee retracts Koran allegation

Well, whadda ya know. Newsweek really WAS wrong:

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – The Guantanamo detainee who told an FBI agent in 2002 that U.S. personnel there had flushed a Koran in a toilet retracted his allegation when questioned this month by military investigators, the Pentagon said on Thursday.

“We’ve gone back to the detainee who allegedly made the allegation and he has said it didn’t happen. So the underlying allegation, the detainee himself, within the last two weeks, said that didn’t happen,” chief Pentagon spokesman Lawrence Di Rita told a briefing.

An FBI document, dated Aug. 1, 2002, contained a summary of statements made by the detainee in two interviews with an FBI special agent at the prison for foreign terrorism suspects at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba. The names of the detainee and the agent were redacted.

“The guards in the detention facility do not treat him well. Their behavior is bad. About five months ago, the guards beat the detainees. They flushed a Koran in the toilet,” the FBI agent wrote.

Di Rita told reporters on Wednesday the U.S. military, as part of an inquiry into Koran treatment at the U.S. naval base at Guantanamo, interviewed the same detainee on May 14, and that the man did not corroborate the earlier allegation. But Di Rita at the time said he did not know whether the man actually had recanted his earlier statement.

During his news conference on Thursday, Di Rita said he changed his account of what the detainee had said after getting more information from the commander of the Guantanamo prison, Brig. Gen. Jay Hood.

On a related note:

No Intentional Abuse of Koran at GuantÑnamo, General Says

WASHINGTON, May 26 – The American military commander at GuantÑnamo Bay, Cuba, said today that investigators had found “no credible evidence” that a Koran had ever been flushed down a toilet there to unsettle detainees, and no serious incidents of intentional mishandling of the Muslim holy book by Americans.

The commander, Brig. Gen. Jay W. Hood of the Army, said 13 possible incidents had been investigated in which the book might have been mishandled: 10 by guards and 3 by interrogators. Of the 13, only 5 embody “what could be broadly defined as mishandling of a Koran,” the general said, but declined to provide details.

In several other incidents, he said, guards had accidentally touched the book or touched it “within the scope of their duties.” And in two other incidents, both involving interrogations, there was possible inadvertent mishandling, General Hood said.

“We’ve also identified 15 incidents where detainees mishandled or inappropriately treated the Koran, one of which was the specific example of a detainee who ripped pages out of their own Koran,” the general said.