Good catch in Kit Seelye’s piece in Tuesday’s Times …
Mr. McClellan and other administration officials blamed the Newsweek article for setting off the anti-American violence that swept Afghanistan and Pakistan. “The report had real consequences,” Mr. McClellan said. “People have lost their lives. Our image abroad has been damaged.”
But only a few days earlier, in a briefing on Thursday, Gen. Richard B. Myers, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, had said that the senior commander in Afghanistan believed the protests had stemmed from that country’s reconciliation process.
“He thought it was not at all tied to the article in the magazine,” General Myers said.
Compare with this follow-up piece by Evan Thomas in Newsweek (emphasis added) …
On Saturday, Isikoff spoke to his original source, the senior government official, who said that he clearly recalled reading investigative reports about mishandling the Qur’an, including a toilet incident. But the official, still speaking anonymously, could no longer be sure that these concerns had surfaced in the SouthCom report. Told of what the NEWSWEEK source said, DiRita exploded, “People are dead because of what this son of a bitch said. How could he be credible now?”
As I said earlier this evening, <$NoAd$> let Newsweek’s reporting stand or fall on its own (though bear in mind that even at this point the Pentagon’s denials seem rather technical). But do not miss the fact that the White House and the political appointees at the Pentagon are exploiting this in every way they can — even going so far, it would seem, as to declare as a moral certainty claims that only a few days ago they professed to believe were false.