This is a partial transcript from "On the Record," May 16, 2005, that has been edited for clarity.
GRETA VAN SUSTEREN, HOST: Violent anti-American protests in Afghanistan and across the Middle East have killed at least 17 people and injured many more. The protests are said to be the result of a story in Newsweek magazine claiming U.S. interrogators put copies of the Koran in bathrooms and even flushed a copy down a toilet. The U.S. government says the story is untrue.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
GEN. RICHARD MYERS, JOINT CHIEFS OF STAFF CHAIRMAN: What we make of it is that despite our review of the situation we can't find anything to substantiate the allegations.
DONALD RUMSFELD, DEFENSE SECRETARY: People lost their lives. People are dead and that's unfortunate and people need to be very careful about what they say and just as people need to be careful about what they do.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
VAN SUSTEREN: Just hours ago, Newsweek magazine retracted the story. Are U.S. soldiers in danger tonight as a result of bad reporting?
Joining us in Washington is retired U.S. Army Major General Don Edwards, welcome general.
RETIRED MAJ. GEN. DON EDWARDS, FOX NEWS MILITARY ANALYST: Thank you.
VAN SUSTEREN: General, do you believe it's a cause and effect relationship, I mean that this article did indeed cause these riots that then lead to these deaths, any doubt in your mind?
EDWARDS: There's no doubt in my mind at all, Greta, that they did and they were used by Al Qaeda and the Taliban particularly in Afghanistan to incite riots and the local Afghans have said themselves the person in the street that they had intended to demonstrate peacefully and then the riots got taken over by other folks.
VAN SUSTEREN: So, how do we undue the harm from this article?
EDWARDS: Well, I don't know that you undue the harm from it. I don't know that anybody can, Greta. That's unfortunately another very bad thing in terms of our reputation in that world and it takes time to regain your reputation.
VAN SUSTEREN: After the Abu Ghraib scandal, which was another, you know, in many ways had some similarities. It's where people were denigrated and here it's religion and there it was physical denigration. That didn't spark riots, did it? I don't remember that it did or did it?
EDWARDS: It didn't spark riots. It was right, you know, still very close to the combat phase. It sparked plenty of controversy as we both remember. But the Afghans and the Pakistanis are not in a combat situation. They're in a more stable situation where they can express themselves with less fear of being retaliated against, although obviously and unfortunately people got killed because of this.
VAN SUSTEREN: So, you see them as different or I mean are there similarities or differences between those two incidents?
EDWARDS: Well, I think there's similarities more than there are differences but I think the difference in this one is the situation. In both cases we did things that were very humiliating and we were said to do things. I frankly don't think we did this and the Muslims are very sensitive.
VAN SUSTEREN: Well, the pictures spoke to it. I mean maybe...
EDWARDS: Oh, in the prison.
VAN SUSTEREN: Yes.
EDWARDS: The prison thing no doubt at all.
VAN SUSTEREN: OK.
EDWARDS: We did that and it was terrible. The Koran thing there has been no report that any senior leader of the Army has seen that has that in it. I can tell you that very confidently.
VAN SUSTEREN: But the truth of it doesn't matter because people who don't like us are going to take it and run with it anyway whether it's true or not and apparently, even Newsweek has backed off that it even happened. They even questioned their own source but that doesn't matter if people are taking and running with it.
EDWARDS: That's absolutely right. It doesn't matter at all and Newsweek apologizing is not very helpful. It doesn't matter.
VAN SUSTEREN: So, what is the strategy? We've got a problem. So give me an idea of a strategy to try to sort of, you know, minimize it or try to do something about it because it's a problem.
EDWARDS: Well, it's a problem and it's a problem for the soldier on the ground in particular in Afghanistan but also Iraq and you gradually work on community relations and I suspect that some of those have been developed that have been frayed a bit. But you have to reestablish them on the ground and it takes slow, careful, tedious work, patience to regain your credibility when things like this happen. There is no miracle dust that you can sprinkle on the situation and make it go away.
VAN SUSTEREN: So, what for the soldiers tonight who are in these areas what's the advice for them?
EDWARDS: The advice to them is to be patient and be very careful because there's now an opportunity, there's two opportunities that are very dangerous. If there was a person in Afghanistan who was on the fence and who might pick up a Kalashnikov and come out of a doorway and ambush a young American, this might incite them to do it. So, when you're in situations like that, the soldiers have to be even more careful if that's possible.
And then the other thing is if you're a young Sunni Arab or a young Saudi, for instance, which seems to be the main source of the suicide bombers in Iraq and you're disaffected and again you were on the fence this might be what motivates you to go to Syria and go to Iraq and be a suicide bomber.
VAN SUSTEREN: All right, we have a minute left. I almost said a month, a minute left. What's your assessment tonight of where we stand in the war?
EDWARDS: It's still very much a difficult thing. It's somewhat in the balance. This insurgency is not going away. The Iraqi government has got to move more aggressively. You win insurgencies politically. You win the hearts and minds of the people and they have not by a long shot done that.
VAN SUSTEREN: How do we sort of get that rolling a little faster, any idea?
EDWARDS: No, I don't have any idea on how we do that. I think the secretary of state making a trip there trying to push them to be more inclusive of the Sunnis is about the best we can do. We can continue to do the tactical things militarily, develop the Iraqi military. That's also very important. But the political Iraqi side of this thing has got to work.
VAN SUSTEREN: All right. General, always nice to see you sir, thank you.
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