Speaking of bile, Newsweek certainly brought up quite a bit of it this week. After it published an article about American troops desecrating the Quran at Guantanamo Bay as a way to coerce terrorists into talking, riots broke out in several Islamic countries, including Afghanistan. Fifteen people were killed. Now, of course, they have retracted the story and said "sorry!"
I believe in freedom of speech, even in wartime, but it seems to me that in a rush to discredit the Bush administration, Newsweek fell into the same trap that ensnared Dan Rather like a starving rabbit: rushing to publish a weak story in order to score points against a president that the authors don't like. Rather destroyed his career; Newsweek cost lives and probably put American troops in danger. Well done, idiots. To my mind this amounts to treason plain and simple.
I don't like President Bush much either. His domestic policy is horrid, and he has helped hand over the Republican Party to the militant loonies of the "Christian Right," leaving the nation without a true Conservative party. I agree with much of his foreign policy, however -- although his adminstration has mishandled Iraq. At the very least he represents a move away from the policy of cowardice pursued during the Clinton years (guided by the worst Secretary of State of the 20th Century, Madeline Albright).
There is plenty to attack President Bush on. Media outlets like Newsweek have a responsibility to get the story correct, especially when such a story could put American (and other) lives in danger. To hear the editor of Newsweek explain that he's not entirely convinced that this story caused the riots that claimed 17 lives and injured dozens of others is representative of the media's evasion of responsibility. I would encourage the Afghan government to sue Newsweek for damages.
Freedom of speech does not mean freedom from responsibility, as the editors would have it.