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A Study in Abuse

The media ignores the facts about Koran abuse and piles on the Army.

11:30 AM, Jun 6, 2005 • By JOHN HINDERAKER
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The other incident that was widely reported following the Hood report's issuance involved an unlucky soldier who couldn't wait to relieve himself until he went off duty, and chose an unfortunate spot:

On 25 MAR 05, a detainee complained to the guards that urine came through an air vent in Camp 4, and splashed on him and his Koran while he laid near the air vent. A guard reported to a Block NCOIC that he was at fault. The guard had left his observation area post and went outside to urinate. He urinated near an air vent and the wind blew his urine through the vent into the block. The Sergeant of the Guard (SOG) responded and immediately relieved the guard. The SOG ensured the detainee received a fresh uniform and a new Koran. The Joint Detention Operations Group (JDOG) commander reprimanded the guard and assigned him to gate guard duty where he had no contact with detainees for the remainder of his assignment at JTF-GTMO. This incident was recorded in a series of contemporaneous sworn statements made by Camp 4 guard force members. There is no record that this incident caused any type of disturbance in the block. We consider this a confirmed incident.

Read in its entirety, the Hood report documents an extraordinary level of sensitivity to the detainees' religious concerns. Altogether, the investigators confirmed five instances where intentional or unintentional mishandling of the Koran apparently occurred, and four more where the guards' conduct "may have been inappropriate." This superlative record should be seen as a tribute to the training and discipline of the Army's guards and translators.

The Army did find, however, 15 instances of blatant Koran abuse at Guantanamo. All were committed by detainees. For example:

On 14 MAY 03, a guard observed a detainee rip his Koran into small pieces. The guard recorded the incident contemporaneously in a sworn statement.

On 5 JUN 03, a guard observed two detainees accuse a third detainee of not being a man. In response, the detainee urinated on one of their Korans. The detainees resided in adjacent cells. The event was recorded in FBI FD-302s, on 5 JUN 03 and 19 JUN 03.

On 19 JAN 05, a detainee tore up his Koran and tried to flush it down the toilet. Four guards witnessed the incident and it was recorded in the electronic blotter system.

On 23 JAN 05, a detainee ripped pages out of his Koran and threw them down the toilet. The detainee stated he did so because he wanted to be moved to another camp. Four guards witnessed the incident and it was recorded in the electronic blotter system.

If one were to sum up the Hood report in a headline, it might be: "Army Documents Extraordinary History of Respect for Koran." Or, "No Truth to Claims of Koran Abuse." Or perhaps: "Koran Abuse? Blame the Detainees." But that isn't how the story was played. Here were the headlines in England: "U.S. Admits Koran Abuse at Cuba Base", and "US Admits Guard Soiled Koran at Guantanamo". The London Times, not normally noted for anti-Americanism, led off with this summary:

An American guard at Guantanamo Bay urinated on a copy of the Koran while others kicked, stepped on and soaked copies with water balloons, the Pentagon admitted last night.

In India, the headline was "Guantanamo Guards Guilty".

Reuters' story on the report omitted any mention of the detainees' treatment of the Koran, and began:

The U.S. military for the first time on Friday detailed how jailers at Guantanamo mishandled the Koran, including a case in which a guard's urine splashed onto the Islamic holy book and others in which it was kicked, stepped on and soaked by water.