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The Nuclear Briefing

And almost lost in the shuffle is the allegation at the heart of the Newsweek item and the ensuing response: That American prison guards desecrated the Koran. Newsweek has retracted its assertion that the Pentagon confirmed that to be the case. But the allegations are still out there.

Carol D. Leonnig writes in The Washington Post: "American and international media have widely reported similar allegations from detainees and others of desecration of the Muslim holy book for more than two years."

In fact, just yesterday, "several former detainees said they witnessed military police and guards at Guantanamo Bay throwing their copies of the Koran on the ground, stomping on them with their feet, and tossing them into buckets and areas used as latrines."

And James T. Madore writes in Newsday that Newsweek reporter Michael Isikoff is vowing to continue digging into the controversy.

" 'We are continuing to investigate what remains a very murky situation,' the prize-winning journalist told Newsday. 'It's not like us or them [the Pentagon] have gotten to the bottom of this.' "

Reaction

MSNBC conveniently provides bookends to the raging controversy that this one press briefing in particular has set off in the intersecting worlds of media criticism, cable talk shows and the blogosphere.

Here's Keith Olbermann calling on Scott McClellan to resign: "The expiration on his carton full of blank-eyed bully-collaborator act passed this afternoon as he sat reeling off those holier-than-thou remarks."

And here's Joe Scarborough: "You know, I think that response from the press at the White House is absolutely remarkable. Acting as if it's the White House's fault that 17 people are dead because of 'Newsweek's reporting."

Meanwhile, blogger Holden of First Draft chronicles how McClellan has frequently insisted that he's not a media critic -- until now.

Today's Calendar

President Bush meets with the prime minister of Egypt in the Oval Office, attends the ceremonial swearing-in for the director and deputy director of national intelligence, then headlines the International Republican Institute Dinner.

The White House and the Nuclear Option

Ed Henry tells Judy Woodruff on CNN how the White House is approaching the whole filibuster issue: "The White House is still walking a very fine line on this nuclear option. On the one hand, officials reiterate[ed] today that President Bush does not want to get into the specifics, meddling on the specifics of Senate rules. That's something for lawmakers to work out. And yet, guess who came to the White House for lunch today? As you mentioned, Janice Rogers Brown and Priscilla Owen, two of the president's judicial nominees who are at the center of this Senate stalemate.

"Officials here tell us that they had lunch with White House counsel Harriet Miers, then dropped by the Oval Office for a brief meeting with the president himself. All of this a not-so-subtle reminder that while the White House claims it wants to stay out of it, on the other hand, the president very much wants to put pressure on Democrats to stop filibustering his judicial nominees. . . .


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