As reported here on Newsbusters the Associated Press is refusing to back down from, nor give satisfactory evidence for, its November report that 6 Iraqi Sunnis were burned alive in sectarian violence, a claim heavily disputed seemingly by everyone but the AP.
The AP based their reports of this grisly violence on the word of a single "witness" they named as Iraqi police captain, Jamail Hussein. Unfortunately for the AP, and despite quite a lot of effort by quite a few people, this captain of Iraqi police cannot be located so that the story can be substantiated. The AP, however, continues to claim that he exists despite the paucity of evidence.
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.
It goes without saying that one of the clarion calls for the liberal media is unlimited abortion on demand with absolutely no restrictions to a woman’s supposed “right to choose.” In a New Year’s eve article written by New York Times ombudsman Byron Calame, it is clear that the folks at the Old Gray Lady don’t understand that the killing of a baby really is murder (hat tip to Hot Air, emphasis mine throughout):
THE cover story on abortion in El Salvador in The New York Times Magazine on April 9 contained prominent references to an attention-grabbing fact. “A few” women, the first paragraph indicated, were serving 30-year jail terms for having had abortions. That reference included a young woman named Carmen Climaco. The article concluded with a dramatic account of how Ms. Climaco received the sentence after her pregnancy had been aborted after 18 weeks.
The last paragraph of their Wednesday editorial (my bold) makes the point that the wire service, its defenders, and those who want to see the whole to-do as being about "just one incident," won't see, or won't admit to seeing:
What is clear about all this is that nothing is clear. Maybe there's a Jamil Hussein with the Iraqi police, but he's a sergeant, not a captain. Maybe there's a police captain whose first name is spelled Jamail, not Jamil. Both possibilities have been floated in the blogosphere, but neither has withstood scrutiny.
Editor & Publisher summed it up best when it reported that Jamil Hussein had been lost, then "found," then lost again. Amazing.
Last summer, Reuters, the media outlet that refuses to label terrorists as terrorists, was jolted by the "fauxtography" scandal. Adnan Hajj, a freelance Lebanese photographer, allegedly doctored images of the Israel-Hezbollah war and photographed what appeared to many to be staged scenes of victim rescue and recovery efforts in Qana, a Lebanese village where Israel attacked Hezbollah terrorists. Both were clearly an effort to further inflame a world that had already cast Israel as the villain.
Just as we asked in August if Reuters was "a patsy or collaborator," we wonder the same about the AP. We also wonder if we can trust any AP report from the Middle East. If it can't show us Capt. Jamil Hussein, we're not sure it has anything else we want to see.
This goes to the credibility, and ultimately the business viability, of the entire AP operation.
WASHINGTON, Dec. 27 — At the close of the Senate’s lame-duck session, in between formulaic tributes to senators departing voluntarily or otherwise, a Republican backbencher suddenly rose to give one of the most passionate and surprising speeches about the war in Iraq yet delivered in Congress.
If you follow DC reporting on Iraq, you may be familiar with the speech by Republican Gordon Smith of Oregon, though with so many 24 hour news cycles come and gone, it may tax your memory to recall it. Enter the New York Times.
Possible candidates for "Captain Jamil Hussein": Jamil Gholaiem Hussein, Jamil Ghdaab Gulaim, Jamil Ghdaab Ghulaim, or indeed Jamil Hussein, but not as a police captain, but instead as a Sergeant.
A little bit of "Hussein" here, a shade of "Gulaim" there... When you are
never obligated to prove your claims, why not throw in a little
"Gholaiem" as well?
It should be clear from all of this that AP writers are merely story painters, with palettes as large as the earth itself. A painting can be made, or a "trend" created, out of stringing together facts from any set of random people in the world. If you wanted to write a story claiming the 1920s-era flapper style is now all the rage, a shade of "teenager Sarah Wilson likes flapper clothes" here, a touch of "fashion watchers are observing..." there, and you've made a whole new painting out of shoddy-at-best sources, ones you'll likely never have to verify. In the process, you've just proven the existence of the biggest thing to hit the fashion world since blue jeans.
Michelle Malkin has the latest on efforts to identify the mysterious "Captain Jamil Hussein," the "source" the AP claimed as an authority figure for a number of reports out of Iraq, including the apocryphal November story that claimed "Shiite militiamen grabbed six Sunnis as they left Friday worship services, doused them with kerosene and burned them alive."
As Malkin reports, the AP itself isn't being very cooperative in trying to follow up on new leads.
Yesterday, I contacted the AP about the "Jamil Hussein"/Jamil Ghdaab Gulaim/Ghulaim findings and asked these simple questions:
On December 18, the first 2008 Democratic presidential candidate made the (soon to be) required pilgrimage to talk with Jon Stewart on "The Daily Show." The liberal comedian lavished considerable praise on Iowa Governor Tom Vilsack, while attacking President Bush with a vulgar expletive. Though Stewart tried to cast his comments in a humorous style, one has to ask if, in 2008, he’ll be a comedian or simply a high profile booster of the Democratic crop? The Comedy Central host began the interview with typical softballs and then shifted into his standard attack on President Bush:
Jon Stewart: "Are you excited? Is it- Is it a whirlwind so far? Have you been on any bigger shows than this?"
Tom Vilsack: "No. This is it. This is the first show."
Stewart: "You're going to get crushed. [Cheers and applause ]Give me a sense of the Vilsack doctrine, if you would. What is– What do you feel like– You know, we've had a president who was the governor of a state for eight years. The criticism was he didn't have a lot of experience outside of his state and not that he hasn't done a great job but what, what do you bring to the table that's different other than you're not, you know, seemingly an a–[bleeped]." [Cheers and applause ]
Curt at Flopping Aces notes that the Associated Press has quietly changed the copy of their November 28 response to questions about the "burning six" story. And the Google cached version apparently has been changed, as well.
The AP angrily rejected criticism of its story about six Sunni men being dragged from prayer and burned alive after CENTCOM, the Iraqi Ministry of the Interior, and bloggers questioned the identity of "police captain Jamil Hussein," their chief source for the story. CENTCOM and the MOI say that no such person is listed as a police captain. Hussein had previously been quoted by the AP in more than sixty stories over the past two years.
Why isn't Charles Johnson of Little Green Footballs, who first broke the "fauxtography" scandal out of Lebanon, among Time's "digital democracy" change agents?
After looking at the weak collection of candidates available to vote for as Time's Person of the Year last week (based on what they did in 2006, which wasn't much), I wrote:
Perhaps YouTube, online forums, blogs, vlogs, podcasts, and online media should be the Thing of the Year: The Shadow Media. Of course, Time would be writing about its own likely eventual demise, but it would fit.
That's essentially what Time has done in its mostly (in my opinion) good decision to name "You" as Person of the Year:
..... for seizing the reins of the global media, for founding and framing the new digital democracy, for working for nothing and beating the pros at their own game, TIME's Person of the Year for 2006 is you.
Time named as "You" everyone trying to influence the world just a bit from their keyboard. That would include, to a miniscule degree, yours truly, and, again of course, many people who are reading this post.
Oh-so-predictably, two of the three "hard-news" members of the magazine's "15 citizens of the digital democracy" are influencers from the left side; none are from the right -- sorry, libs, a milblogger is not presumptively "conservative" (direct links may not work unless you have already visited Time's web site):
Mickey Kaus, the iconoclastic Democrat who loves picking on Democrats, points to this posting from Lt. Col. Bateman, which asks many pertinent and justified questions about a suspicious Associated Press story about six Sunnis burned to death and four mosques destroyed in the Baghdad neighborhood of Hurriya.
The AP doubled down on the story's veracity (though other press outlets, including Al Jazeera, have yet to confirm it) and insisted the story's main source, Iraqi police captain Jamil Hussein, does in fact exist.
The Boston Herald reports that hundreds of journalists hungry for advancement have sent in resumés to become Bob Woodward's assistant. Making up facts to fit a preestablished narrative a plus. Also, like Mark Felt, you have to do all the work but give all the credit to Woodward.
Last October, Dante Chinni wrote in the Christian Science Monitor that Bob Woodward has an uncanny knack for finding quotes to match any narrative, even if it contradicts one of his earlier narratives.
You may not be Carl Bernstein, but that doesn’t mean you can’t work with Bob Woodward.
The legendary journalist is currently looking for a new assistant and took the unusual step of advertising on Web sites like journalismjobs.com.
In a column published last night, Eric Boehlert does an excellent job of showing why David Brock's Media Matters
should be regarded as the alimentary canal of punditry; on one end it's
good at regurgitation, and on the other, the finalized product is
consistently something better flushed.
By the next day, even more details had emerged in the AP's story along with a description of why the alleged attacks finally ended.
Synthesize the various versions of the story, and you will have a
horrific story of how Shia gunmen attacked while the Iraqi police and
military stood by, without interfering, as four mosques were destroyed
and as many as 18 people were killed, including six Sunni men pulled
from a mosque and burned alive after being doused with kerosene. Only
the arrival of American military units brought an end to the carnage.
But here's the problem... there is little to no evidence that any of these events took place.
Contrary to the AP's reporting, the Ahbab al-Mustafa, Nidaa Allah,
al-Muhaimin and al-Qaqaqa mosques were never blown up. There is no
evidence uncovered that a single soul, much less 18, were burned in an
"inferno" at the al-Muhaimin mosque. In fact, soldiers from the 6th
Iraqi Army Division found al-Muhaimin completely undamaged.
When the "six burning Sunnis" story hit the blogosphere, James Taranto of the Wall Street Journal Opinion Journal wrote that bloggers had "turned over a rock" at the Associated Press.
In his Best of the Web column today, Taranto turns over a rock himself and discovers a reporter for the Philadelphia Daily News trying to scurry away from the light. Will Bunch is upset that conservative bloggers, the Iraqi Ministry of the Interior, and CENTCOM blew the whistle on the AP's story.
Now comes the flap over a mosque attack in Baghdad, and a dispute over the news account -- trumpted [sic] on this Daily News front page at top -- that six Sunni worshippers were burned alive. This Huffington Post post does a good job of breaking down the mixed signals on whether this event really happened as reported by the AP. It's clear to me that a) The AP based its article on information from a trusted and previously reliable source, which is no guarantee of avoiding an error but is also the proven and accepted way all over the world that journalists gather news and b) even if the report were wrong, and I'm not convinced that it is, it was in the context of horrific -- and demonstrably true -- escalating violence in Baghdad.
Writer Tom Zeller manages to muddy the waters without ever directly mentioning the most troubling question of all: whether or not al Qaeda propagandists are using the Western media to foment civil war in Iraq. The closest Zeller comes to acknowledging this vital issue is mentioning the title of the Flopping Aces post that started the controversy, Getting News From the Enemy.
In today's Boston Herald, columnist Jules Crittenden calls on the mainstream media to confront the Associated Press over its "shoddy" work:
When a company defrauds its customers, or delivers shoddy goods, the customers sooner or later are going to take their business elsewhere. But if that company has a virtual monopoly, and offers something its customers must have, they may have no choice but to keep taking it.
That’s when the customers, en masse, need to raise a stink. That’s when someone else with the resources needs to seriously consider whether the time is ripe to compete.
The Associated Press is embroiled in a scandal. Conservative bloggers, the new media watchdogs, lifted a rock at the AP.
The Iraq government has set up an agency to monitor false news coming out of Iraq. After the Associated Press used a government source that doesn't exist, the government wants to make sure the AP and other media outlets cannot get away with similar fraudulent activity. Reports the UK Guardian.
Iraq's interior ministry has formed a press monitoring unit in response to what it described as "fabricated and false news" that misrepresents the country's security situation.
Singling out the Associated Press for criticism, spokesman Brigadier General Abdul-Karim Khalaf said yesterday that dedicated unit would monitor news coverage and even initiate legal action if journalists do not correct stories it believes to be incorrect.
The "police captain" that the Associated Press used as the source for their story about six Sunni men dragged from prayers and burned alive by Shiite militants is not a policeman and does not work for the Iraqi government in any capacity, according to the Iraqi Ministry of the Interior.
CENTCOM had warned the AP about Hussein and other questionable sources they were using, but was rebuffed by the wire service organization. The AP's sensational story of the burning Sunnis was cited by NBC as a reason they decided to start calling violence in Iraq a "civil war." The source, "police captain Jamil Hussein," has been quoted in wire service stories since April of this year.
Appearing on the Monday edition of Comedy Central’s "Colbert Report," PBS host Jim Lehrer dismissed any hint of a liberal agenda, declaring himself "bias-free." The "NewsHour" anchor also indicated that the real problem is the distorted viewers, not slanted reporting:
Stephen Colbert: "Now, um, do you believe that you have a liberal bias?"
Jim Lehrer: "I know I do not have a liberal bias."
Colbert: "You know you have a liberal bias?"
Lehrer: "No. I do not have a liberal bias. I do not have--"
Colbert: "You don't have a liberal bias."
Lehrer:"I don't have a conservative bias either. I don't have any bias. I am bias-free."
Colbert, in his faux conservative tone, continued to press the PBS anchor, leading to Lehrer’s claim that the audience is at fault for perceiving bias:
Colbert: "Oh come on, come on now."
Lehrer: "No, no, no. Bias is what people who hear or read the news bring to the story not what the journalist brings to the reporting."
The news that six Sunnis were captured by Shiites, doused with kerosine and burned alive, was too sensational to not be picked up by the mainstream media. But it turns out that the event never happened. Furthermore, the Iraqi "spokesman" relied on to give all information regarding this event is as fictional as the story itself.
Jamil Hussein, the man news reports called "police Capt. Jamil Hussein," was the source for all information regarding the burning. Although he is mentioned by USA Today, the Associated Press, CBS News, and other outlets, Central Command says no such person exists. Centcom also asked the Associated Press to retract the story unless it has proof beyond Jamil Hussein's word.
Flopping Aces has a press release from Centcom, which is in charge of all U.S. forces in the Middle East.
Dear Associated Press:
Nov. 24, 2006, your organization published an article by Qais Al-Bashir
about six Sunnis being burned alive in the presence of Iraqi Police
officers. This news item, which is below, received an enormous amount
of coverage internationally.
Reports of burning mosques, like this one from Reuters remain unconfirmed, and may have been fabricated by Sunni militants.
Also, sensationalized accounts of Sunnis being dragged from prayer and burned alive by rampaging Shiites are unconfirmed, and all appear to come from the same source, police Captain Jamil Hussein, whose entire career appears to be issuing statements about Shia violence against Sunnis. Curt at Flopping Aces has researched Hussein and found a remarkable number of atrocity stories for which he is the source.
Here's an interesting bit of irony: Knowledge of the media's ongoing fauxtography scandals has gotten so widespread that now entertainment shows are starting to make plots based on journalists faking the news. "CSI" recently ran an episode about it.
Appearing on Monday's edition of the "The Colbert Report," Dan Rather promoted his new HDNet investigative series by touting an ability to report "quality news with integrity." The small cable channel will premiere "Dan Rather Reports" on November 14. The show will feature the ex-CBS anchor who famously left his network after overseeing a segment that included forged documents used to attack President Bush. Amazingly, when talking with Comedy Central's Colbert, Rather touted his reputation in Bob Dole-style third person:
Stephen Colbert: "Now, let me ask you something. Now, the show is called ‘Dan Rather Reports.’ Um, what is the show about? Like, what is Dan Rather reporting?"
Dan Rather: "Dan Rather is reporting, hopefully, quality news with integrity. I hope it will be news with guts and spine."
Sometimes, leftists make arguments that are just too odd to take seriously. On the blog News Corpse (an appropriate location to discuss whack-Bush movies, perhaps), there's great gnashing of teeth over CNN and NPR deciding not to air commercials (oops, that would be "enhanced underwriting" at NPR) for the Bush-assassination film "Death of a President."
CNN issued a brief statement that virtually admits its intention to censor, saying that…
“CNN has decided not to take the ad because of the extreme nature of the movie’s subject matter.”
By basing their decision on the movie’s “subject matter”, they have installed themselves as the public’s nanny. They believe that they are in the best position to decide for us which subjects matter. While they are a couple of yards further over the line than NPR, the public radio network’s excuse is not much better:
Terrorists in Iraq know they can rely on CNN to carry their propaganda as if it were straight news, now the Taliban is having success in placing "news" with the publicly funded British Broadcasting Corporation.
Ah, the refined sensibilities of the Associated Press. Far be it from that paragon of journalistic impartiality to insert itself in the controversy over whether George Bush & Co. intentionally murdered thousands of Americans on 9-11 via the controlled demolition of the World Trade Center.
And so it is that the Associated Press preciously entitled its article about the decision of 9-11 conspiracy nut Steven Jones to retire from his BYU professor's post:
"BYU Scholar, Sept. 11 Theorist, Resigns".
A "scholar" and a "theorist." Impressive! Might that be some kind of hybrid between a 'gentleman and a scholar' and a theoretical physicist, perhaps? Now, in fairness, I wouldn't expect the AP to adopt my "conspiracy whack job" nomenclature in its headline - although it would be entirely accurate. But the utter neutrality of "theorist" coupled with the honorary title of "scholar" seems excessive. Would the AP describe David Duke as a "racial theorist," for example?
Reuters explains the latest mainstream meme, the public is "numb" to Iraq war deaths:
But with the U.S. military death toll hitting 2,787 on Friday, and with 73 deaths so far in October, it is shaping up to be the deadliest month for U.S. forces since the Falluja offensive two years ago.
Analysts said even local media coverage struggles to overcome the numbing affect of the steady flow of deaths.
The declassification of parts of the National Intelligence Estimate spells out the ramifications of a major triumph in the War on Terror: the killing of Abu Musab al-Zarqawi (the report was finalized in April, before Zarqawi's death). The NIE states:
Al-Qa’ida, now merged with Abu Mus’ab al-Zarqawi’s network, is exploiting the situation in Iraq to attract new recruits and donors and to maintain its leadership role. • The loss of key leaders, particularly Usama Bin Ladin, Ayman al-Zawahiri, and al-Zarqawi, in rapid succession, probably would cause the group to fracture into smaller groups. Although like-minded individuals would endeavor to carry on the mission, the loss of these key leaders would exacerbate strains and disagreements.
How pathetic is it for a candidate to announce his intention to run for the presidency and the few who have heard about it greet the announcement with almost universal derision? Not quite as pathetic as a newspaper reporter who stretches a not-quite announcement into a full blown story about that candidate running for president. Such was the case with Dean Treftz of the University of Iowa student newspaper, the Daily Iowan.
In a bid to make news where none really existed, the Treftz story begins with this bold headline: "Biden says he's going to run." The story itself, like the headline, starts out boldly enough: