A New Twist to the Koran Flushings
cnn.com said:Detainees, not soldiers, flushed Quran
Soldiers kicked, splashed urine on holy book
Saturday, June 4, 2005 Posted: 12:04 AM EDT (0404 GMT)
(CNN) -- A U.S. military investigation into the mishandling of the Muslim holy book at the Guantanamo Bay prison for suspected terrorists has determined that detainees -- not U.S. soldiers -- attempted to flush the Quran down the toilet there.
However, the report did find four confirmed incidents in which U.S. personnel at the base mishandled the Quran, including guards kicking a detainee's Quran; a guard's urine "splashed" a detainee and his holy book after coming through an air vent; and guards got in a water balloon fight that resulted in two detainees' Qurans getting wet.
In a fifth confirmed incident, it could not be determined whether a guard or a detainee wrote a two-word obscenity in a detainee's Quran.
The findings of the report, issued by Brig. Gen. Jay Hood, commander of the detention center in Cuba, were released late Friday. They found no evidence to support allegations that U.S. soldiers attempted to flush the Muslim holy book down the toilet.
The investigation was prompted after a Newsweek article citing unnamed sources made such a claim -- prompting violent protests in Afghanistan and other parts of the Muslim world that left more than a dozen people dead. (Full story)
Newsweek has since retracted the story.
The Hood report cited three separate incidents in which detainees tried to flush the Quran down the toilet.
In one incident, on February 23, 2004, the report said a guard saw a "detainee place two Qurans in his toilet and state he no longer cared about the Quran or his religion.
Five minutes later, after the detainee retrieved the Qurans, he ripped several pages out of one Quran and threw the pages on the floor. Then, he placed both Qurans on the sink."
Another time, on January 19, 2005, a detainee "tore up his Quran and tried to flush it down the toilet. Four guards witnessed the incident," the report said.
The report also cited 12 other incidents by detainees, including one who used his Quran as a pillow, another who urinated on his holy book and several who ripped pages from the Quran.
Capt. Jeff Weir, an Army spokesman at the facility, told CNN in a phone interview that the detainees were typically trying to stage some form of protest when they mishandled the Quran.
Hood said investigators reviewed more than 30,000 documents in an exhaustive probe.
"The inquiry found no credible evidence that a member of the Joint Task Force at Guantanamo Bay ever flushed a Quran down a toilet. This matter is considered closed," the report said.
It said the U.S. military has issued more than 1,600 copies of the Quran since January 2002, conducted more than 28,000 interrogations and carried out thousands of "cell moves."
"Mishandling a Quran at Guantanamo Bay is a rare occurrence," Hood said. "Mishandling of a Quran here is never condoned."
The investigators defined mishandling as "touching, holding or the treatment of a Quran in a manner inconsistent with policy or procedure."
Hood said the investigative team looked into 19 incidents involving allegations of mishandling of the holy book, only five of which could be confirmed.
Ten of the incidents did not involve mishandling of the Quran, the report concluded. Four incidents could not be verified.
According to the report, the five confirmed incidents were:
# In February 2002, a detainee complained that guards kicked the Quran belonging to a detainee in a nearby cell.
# On July 25, 2003, a contract interrogator apologized to a detainee for stepping on his Quran in an earlier interview. The interrogator was later fired "for a pattern of unacceptable behavior, an inability to follow direct guidance and poor leadership."
# On August 15, 2003, night shift guards threw water balloons in a cell block, wetting the Qurans of two detainees.
# On August 21, 2003, a detainee complained that a "two-word obscenity had been written in English on the inside cover of his English version Quran." The report noted that the detainee knew English and Arabic, and it could not be determined exactly who wrote the phrase. "It is possible that a guard committed this act; it is equally possible that the detainee wrote in his own Quran."
# On March 25, 2005, a detainee said "urine came through an air vent" and "splashed on him and his Quran while he laid near the air vent." A guard admitted he was at fault, saying he urinated near an air vent and the "wind blew his urine through the vent into the block." The detainee was given a new uniform and Quran. The guard was reprimanded and placed on gate guard duty away from detainees.
Weir, the Army spokesman at the facility, said about 540 suspected terrorists are housed at the maximum security prison. Noting that only five incidents of mishandling of the Quran could be confirmed, he said, "I will stand by the record here: It's outstanding."
He said even if a U.S. soldier was "contemplating misbehaving," it would be extremely difficult.
"Nothing goes unchecked in Guantanamo Bay," he said. "Everything is documented."
There are about 540 detainees at Guantanamo Bay. Some have been there more than three years without being charged with a crime. Most were captured on the battlefields of Afghanistan in 2001 and 2002 and were sent to Guantanamo Bay in hope of extracting useful intelligence about the al Qaeda terrorist network.
Both U.S. President George W. Bush and Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld have denounced an Amnesty International report that called the U.S. detention center at Guantanamo Bay "the gulag of our time."
The president told reporters at a press conference on Tuesday that the report by the human-rights group was "absurd."
On Wednesday, Rumsfeld called the characterization "reprehensible" and said the U.S. military had taken care to ensure that detainees were free to practice their religion.
However, he also acknowledged that some detainees had been mistreated, even "grievously" at times. (Full story)