"People have lost their lives. Our image abroad has been damaged," said White House spokesman Scott McClellan.
"It's outrageous, I think it's accessory to murder," said retired Army Colonel David Hunt, Fox News military analyst.
"My goodness, why does it take so long for someone to come back with and have the actual facts?" said Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld. "Well, it takes a long time to be truthful."
No, they weren't talking about the cooked intelligence on Iraq that supported the Bush administration's rush to war. They were talking about the NEWSWEEK story on the Kuran that allegedly got flushed down the toilet in Guantanamo, Cuba.
Shame on NEWSWEEK for setting itself up like this. (Or did they get set up? When it comes to the Bush administration, no conspiracy theory is entirely implausible.)
The worst fallout from this affair is that the most irresponsible, unaccountable White House in my lifetime has once again found a scapegoat to blame for its own actions.
Never mind that the Koran story is most likely true. Even if it's not, other atrocities were committed at Guantanamo, Abu Ghraib, and elsewhere, and never mind that the policies that spawned these scandals came from the summit of Bush World.
But these are Rove-wellian times. The guilty parties are not the ones who committed the crime. They're the ones who reported it.
The White House has demanded that NEWSWEEK explain how it got the Kuran story wrong. NEWSWEEK editor Mark Whitaker has done a credible job of doing so, and did it in a timely manner (see link).
No word yet on when the White House will explain how it got its Iraq weapons of mass destruction and al Qaeda connection story wrong.