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2005: Newsweek Apologizes for Inaccurate Report that Triggered Days of Rioting, 15 Dead.


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The deadly consequences of the May 1 report, and its reliance on the unnamed source, have sparked considerable anger at the Pentagon. Spokesman Bryan Whitman called Newsweek's report "irresponsible" and "demonstrably false," saying the magazine "hid behind anonymous sources which by their own admission do not withstand scrutiny. Unfortunately, they cannot retract the damage that they have done to this nation or those who were viciously attacked by those false allegations."

Whitaker said last night that "whatever facts we got wrong, we apologize for. I've expressed regret for the loss of life and the violence that put American troops in harm's way. I'm getting a lot of angry e-mail about that, and I understand it."

The report, in the issue dated May 9, said U.S. military investigators had found that American interrogators at the detention facility at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, had flushed a copy of the Koran, the sacred Muslim text, down a toilet. A week later, when newspapers in Afghanistan and Pakistan picked up the item, it sparked anti-American demonstrations in the Afghan city of Jalalabad in which four protesters were killed and more than 60 injured. About a dozen more protesters were killed in the following days when the demonstrations spread across Afghanistan and to Pakistan and other countries.

Which is why it's worth being extra careful to fact check when reporting. 

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