This is all relatively old news (by internet standards, I suppose) and surely blog fodder for the conservative bloggers, licking their lips about the liberal media. They blast Newsweek for causing the rioting and deaths that ensued. Scott McClellan, the White House Press Secretary said,
"I mean, it's -- this report has had serious consequences. It has caused damage to the image of the United States abroad. It has -- people have lost their lives."
Newsweek has now officially retracted the article. However, it's still not clear that the allegations were false, only that they were unconfirmable. And just like the CBS story on Bush's record in the Air Force National Guard, this was a story that never should have made it to print. Here's what I find interesting though... Conservatives also complained about the reporting of the Abu Ghraib scandal, saying that it emboldened our enemies and was in itself, traitorous. Notice the theme here - reporting these things is the crime. Conservatives almost uniformly dismissed the allegations of torture as little more than fraternity hazing, but making it public was what was criminal. They also said that our image was so bad in the Islamic world that a little negative publicity was worth whatever information we gleaned from these prisoners. Clearly, this week's riots show that our image did have room to fall, and that our actions, real or not, still have a serious impact on world opinion.
It's also interesting to note how McClellan said that the article caused people to lose lives. A) because it was the alleged action that spurred the riots, and B) because officially the Pentagon does not track civilian deaths in Iraq or Afghanistan. How come suddenly they're the protector of the average citizen of these countries? How come each life became so precious to them? How come despite the tens of thousands of innocent Iraqis who died, a few killed in riots earn their scorn?
One last thing - this incident is sure to bring up the Conservative complaint, "Why don't they ever publish about the good things we're doing over there?" To paraphrase an overused Chris Rock quote, "We're supposed to be doing those good things, motherf***er."