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Questions Will Remain Until the AP Adequately Addresses This

I have been critical of Eason Jordan in the past and will continue to be, but I have to agree with his assessment of the AP's reaction to the Jamil Hussein story.

If an Iraqi police captain by the name of Jamil Hussein exists, there is no convincing evidence of it - and that means the Associated Press has a journalistic scandal on its hands that will fester until the AP deals with it properly.

This controversy and the AP's handling of it call into question the credibility, integrity, and smarts of one of the world's biggest, most influential, most respected news organizations, the New York-based Associated Press.

The back story: On November 24, the AP quoted Iraqi Police Captain Jamil Hussein as the source of a sensational AP story that began this way:

"Militiamen grabbed six Sunnis as they left Friday worship services, doused them with kerosene and burned them alive as Iraqi soldiers stood by."

It was a horrific report that was an AP exclusive - a story picked up and reported by news outlets across the U.S. and the world.

The U.S. military and Iraqi officials were quick to call the story baseless, saying there was no evidence that six Sunnis were burned to death in Hurriya and that there was no record of an Iraqi police captain named Jamil Hussein. The U.S. military and the Iraqi government demanded the AP retract the story and explain itself.
...

In the absence of irrefutable evidence that Captain Hussein exists and that the original AP report was accurate, bloggers and a few mainstream media journalists kept plugging away in an effort to get to the truth about whether there is a Captain Hussein and whether six Sunnis were burned alive that day.

Five weeks after the disputed episode, key questions remain unanswered, but what is clear is the AP has botched its handling of this controversy - and it's not going away until the AP deals with it forthrightly and transparently.
...
To make matters worse, Captain Jamil Hussein was a key named source in more than 60 AP stories on at least 25 supposed violent incidents over eight months.

Until this controversy is resolved, every one of those AP reports is tainted.

Jordan says the U.S. military was quick to question the "Burning Six" story, but did not remind readers that what prompted them to do so was the work of Curt at Flopping Aces who contacted Centcom with questions about Hussein. This is one of those stories bloggers were instrumental in uncovering and bloggers remain the only ones really pushing hard to get at the truth of this and other suspicious sources used in Iraq and other news coverage. If Jamil Hussein is a valid source, preferably a living, breathing one, the AP should be bending over backward to provide evidence to put this to controversy to rest. The fact that they haven't does incredible damage to their credibility. (Thanks to Kim for pointing me to the Jordan post.)

Update: Bob Owens has done some incredible work on this story (some of which I have linked previously). Here is his most recent post on the AP's sixty plus suspect stories including a reference to Jordan's post. (Update: this series of posts from Bob Owens is worth bookmarking. He has done a lot of work compiling quite a bit of information and none of it makes the AP look any better.)

Update II: Bruce Kesler has an excellent post on this. Read it all.

Update III: Check out Allah's post at Hot Air which includes the AP response (from Kathleen Carroll) to Eason Jordan, along with the Anchoress' post that summarizes the response this way:

So there. That's responsible journalism in the 21st century; hands over the ears and "lalala, I can't hear you! Just read what we write and shut the hell up."
Read the posts in their entirety. Allah and the Anchoress both have much more to say on this (and other) subjects.

Also check out:

Mary Katharine Ham
Ace of Spades (more from Ace here and here)
The Armed Liberal
Editor & Publisher


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» A Blog For All linked with AP Continues Stonewalling on Jamil Hussein

Comments (20)

Producing someone that coul... (Below threshold)
jpm100:

Producing someone that could be a valid source is no longer sufficient. There's enough evidence that the story is false, even if a 'Jamil' steps forward now.

The question of 'Jamil' is more a matter how deeply and willingly AP got duped. How willing it became a publisher of insurgent propaganda.

Also of the 60 stories about those 24 violent acts, how many got violent reprisals because AP published the Jamil spin, exaggerations, or flat out false accounts of those events? If anyone was hurt due to a reprisal for a false event that AP legitmized, I hope they connect with lawyers and sue somehow.

The <a href="http://www.edi... (Below threshold)
Lee:

The The AP has responded to Easons' latest missive:

Kathleen Carroll, AP executive editor, told E&P today that she had not read Jordan's latest item, posted Monday, and likely would not. But she stood by the news organization's previous statements backing the existence of an Iraqi police captain, Jamail Hussein.

"I've been pretty public about what we have done to get to the crux of the criticism we have gotten about it," she added. When asked about critics' demands that AP produce Hussein to prove his existence, she said "that area [where he works] has pretty much been ethnically cleansed, it is a nasty place and continues to be."

Carroll said that Hussein "is a guy we've talked to for years," adding that "we don't have anything new to say about it, nothing new to add."

Linda Wagner, AP director of media relations and public affairs, said she had just seen Jordan's post, but did not expect to have more to say about it. She said "it would be highly unusual for any news organization to provide sources on the demands of critics."

When asked about the fact that no other major news outlet appears to have been using Hussein as a source, Wagner said, "whether he might be used as an anonymous source by someone else, I don't know." She added that having a source that is not used by others may not be unusual in a war zone.

I must admit that it sure looks like I came down on the wrong side of this story. The longer this drags out the more it appears that Jamil, if ever existed, exists no longer. At least, the AP is howing no interest in brining him into the spotlight.

My apologies to Lorie and others for the way in which I came down on conservative bloggers on this. I'll be shopping for crow this afternoon, and checking online for good crow stew recipes as I warm up my mea maxima culpa....

Jordan is reducing this to ... (Below threshold)
jpm100:

Jordan is reducing this to whether or not a 'Jamil' exists. Even if he exists, there is still a lot AP has to answer for. The story is far from solid even if a single person steps forward and claims to be this 'Jamil'. Which I'm sure is going to be reframed as his alias as an informant and not his real name.

The man has been listed NOT... (Below threshold)

The man has been listed NOT as some anonymous source, with or without inside info, but as an OFFICIAL of the Iraqi government.

The reply that "other news orgs may have used him as an anonymous source" is a complete red herring. WHY would an OFFICIAL spokesman for a government agency be willing to go on the record with one - and ONLY one - foreign news service about events, but with no one else, foreign or domestic? Why won't the Iraqi government acknowledge his existence? If he were some secret agent, his name would not have been given in the first place.

This is a major scandal which puts the doubt on AP reporting worldwide, especially in light of their phony stories and photos out of Lebanon last year.

If the man exists, produce him. If he does not, the credibility of the news organization is ZILCH. That alone ought to provide sufficient motivation to prove he exists, IF he does. That AP feigns nonchalance about it is quite telling.

Maybe he is fake, but accur... (Below threshold)
Gianni:

Maybe he is fake, but accurate?

The AP Inquirer could sure ... (Below threshold)
Paper Tigers:

The AP Inquirer could sure make a lot of conservatives look like fools by marching JH out for the world to see. Maybe they're just waiting for the right time...Then again, maybe the moon will fall out of the sky.

Eason Jordan is an also-ran... (Below threshold)
d:

Eason Jordan is an also-ran on this story; Michelle Malkin is the one who initiated the pursuit of AP's "source" and put the tough questions to the AP. Malkin deserves the recognition and credit for this, not Jordan.

There's another odd side to... (Below threshold)
cirby:

There's another odd side to the nonexistent captain...

The more reputable anti-war folks, like "Iraq Body Count," used news stories from places like AP to make their estimates. Considering that even the most-used "source" doesn't seem to exist, I wonder how many of those "dead" civilians ever actually existed?

The AP stories don't just impact the AP - they hit a lot of other folks with their nonexistent shrapnel.

So, how many other stories ... (Below threshold)
Les Nessman:

So, how many other stories has the AP faked?

How many other 'news' outlets have faked stories?

How have these fake stories affected the near-useless 'Public Opinion' that everyone is so concerned with?

BTW, if you ever are mistaken about anything and you want to know how to fess up in a mature, dignified manner, Lee just provided an excellent example. Kudos.

Now excuse me while I go wash my mouth out with soap for saying something nice about Lee.

I think we can go back a lo... (Below threshold)
pagar:

I think we can go back a lot further than Iraq on this. Just look at the Vietnam Tet offensive stories. When the North Vietnamese military leaders said after the war that they lost that
battle, while America's leftist press told the world that American was defeated in that battle.

Perhaps it is time to start... (Below threshold)
LJD:

Perhaps it is time to start charging people for actively aiding the enemy during a time of war (i.e. peddling their propaganda at the expense of our troops in the field).

I have a good buddy who gr... (Below threshold)
Gianni:

I have a good buddy who grew up in OK, and I got a text message from him after the OU INT. yea, he was beating his chest a lil bit.

I agree. What Cronkite did in the 60's,Kerry did in the 70's, Kennedy in the 80's should all be prosecuted.

Imagine if our govt was just a sintent on going after politicians(an ex Presidents) who gave aid and comfort to the enemy, as they are to border guards and soldiers who serve this country.

Even if AP produces such a ... (Below threshold)

Even if AP produces such a person, the question would become - What took you so long?

AP seems to be saying "Well, we're satisfied - and we have no obligation or reason to satisfy anyone else."

I guess Jordan thinks it's ... (Below threshold)

I guess Jordan thinks it's worse to report fake atrocities than to omit or ignore true atrocities. Isn't there a pot/kettle analogy in there somewhere?

Pagar, we could go further back to Walter Duranty.

Les, I have to agree with y... (Below threshold)
cmd:

Les, I have to agree with you -

Lee, that was a classy post. I respect your willingness to admit you were wrong, and hope I can display the same when and if I'm ever on the wrong side of an issue.

(oh, man. . .now I've got to shower in carbolic acid to feel clean again!)

Do we have independent sour... (Below threshold)
Faith+1:

Do we have independent sources besides AP and Reuters--both proven to have lied repeatedly on stories--that there is even a war in Iraq? At the rate at which the blatantly lie I beginning to have my doubts...

Oyster, you're 100% correct... (Below threshold)
pagar:

Oyster, you're 100% correct. I think that is what
we're seeing now. A movement that wants to destroy us,using the easiest tools there are
words and pictures.
http://www.weeklystandard.com/Content/Public/Articles/000/000/002/791vwuaz.asp

Stories about Walter Duranty are truly fightening, because you can see exactly how the technique was used to destroy South Vietnam, and defeat the US, by Cronkite and the rest of the leftist media, Kerry and his band of useful liars, Sen Kennedy and his Soviet friends and others.

Just like in Vietnam, from ... (Below threshold)
Pagar:

Just like in Vietnam, from Iraq we have the bodies
of US soldiers coming home; killed by the enemies propaganda machines, based at the NYTs and other leftist media. There is no doubt there is a war there. What America needs to know is why our leftist media supports, encourages and aids the
enemy that is destroying our soldiers.

Pagar - While... (Below threshold)
Actual:

Pagar -

While I agree with the basic point of your comment, the media went nuts after Tet because Westmoreland kept painting a rosy picture about US/RVN progress. Consequently, the Tet offensive was a surprise to the command structure and the press and caused the press to think that Westmoreland, whom they had never trusted, had been misleading them about the war's progress. This has morphed into the press describing Tet as a US/RVN defeat. Oberdorfer's book covers it well.

That said, I revile the lazy, lying weasels of the MSM as much as you evidently do.

Guys like Yon and Fumento a... (Below threshold)

Guys like Yon and Fumento and a half dozen others tell it straight when they're on site.

The difference between their reports of an particular incident and the AP's are like black and white. Real reports have detail, fake ones are just vague hand waving.




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