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Rice: Quran story hurt U.S.

Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice has weighed in on the Newsweek report that U.S. interrogators desecrated the Quran at Guantanamo Bay by flushing one down the toilet.

She told reporters while traveling home from Iraq today that the false report has “done a lot of harm” to U.S. outreach in the Muslim world.

“It’s appalling that this story got out there,” she said.

Deadly anti-American riots were sparked from Afghanistan to Malaysia to the Palestinian Authority by the news weekly’s May 9 report that U.S. military investigators had found evidence interrogators placed copies of Islam’s holy book in washrooms and had flushed one down the toilet to get inmates to talk.

“I do think it’s done a lot of harm,” Rice said. “Of course, 16 people died, but it’s also done a lot of harm to America’s efforts” to demonstrate tolerance and breed goodwill in the Muslim world.

While admitting problems with the story, Newsweek has not fully retracted it. Instead, the magazine said yesterday that a government source has told the magazine he could not now be sure that he saw an account of the toilet reference in a military report on abuse at the military detention facility in Cuba.

“The sad thing was that there was a lot of anger that got stirred by a story that was not very well founded,” Rice said.

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Newsweek called treasonous over ‘Quran-in-toilet’ report