Getting the Story Straight

From the moment The New York Times first published a story on 21 February that Korans had been burned in a garbage pit at Bagram air base in Afghanistan, there’s been a dichotomy in the narrative:

The holy books and texts came from the library in the detention center in Parwan, where Americans house suspected insurgents, including many of those captured during night raids. A military official said detainees had been using the books to communicate with each other and potentially incite extremist activity.

In his apology, General [John R.] Allen confirmed the burnings, but portrayed them as absolutely unintentional.

So the Korans were taken from detainees because they were suspected as being used for passing messages between prisoners, but they didn’t mean to burn them? Does this even make sense? I mean, if I thought there were messages being passed between prisoners via books in the detention center library, I might keep the books to see if someone could figure out what the messages were, rather than just lighting them on fire. But that’s just me.

A number of the stories on this topic mention that the story of a Koran being thrown in a toilet at Guantanamo Bay was determined to be unfounded, but nobody else seems to remember the “inadvertant” splashing of urine on a Koran by a guard there, as verified by a military inquiry in 2005. Here’s how I imagined that might have gone down at the time (click on the image to open a large version of the graphic):

Koran Abuse at Guantanamo Bay