Last Thursday, I provided Associated Press Media Relations Director Linda Wagner with confirmation that a January 4 Steven R. Hurst article appears to be 180-degrees from the truth.
To date, neither Wagner nor any other AP contact has deemed to provide
any sort of response. Frankly, I didn't expect one. The Hurst article
was a CYA piece written to provide cover for shoddy Associated Press
reporting, and it is not in their personal interests to admit that
they've been caught apparently fabricating that story from the ground
I've thus resorted to contacting several members of the AP Board of
Directors with the following letter sent out just moments ago, hoping
that they will display the integrity that neither AP reporters nor
senior management seem to have any interest in maintaining.
If they decline to investigate this extended "Jayson Blair" moment,
then their integrity and credibility as a news organization, to put it
mildly, is shot.
Here is a copy of the letter, with links added for context and HTML formatting added:
In a statement obtained by this NewsBuster, a senior Bush
administration official has disputed a New York Times article, Jailed 2 Years, Iraqi Tells of Abuse by Americans that suggests
that the review process for detainees held by the U.S.
military in Iraq
is inadequate. The Times story is anecdotal, telling the story of Laith al-Ani,
an Iraqi Sunni who was released by U.S.
authorities last month. According to the Times story, "people like
Mr. Ani . . . are being held without charge and without access to tribunals
where their cases are reviewed."
Without responding to the specifics of Mr. Ani's case, the senior Bush
administration official told me that "the facts of our detention system
belie the themes of this article. We follow well-established standards of
review that go well above and beyond what the law requires. And we do so
in the face of a ruthless and determined enemy."
He offered the following overview of the review process:
The New York Times political blog "The Caucus" and editor Kate Phillips seemed to sympathize with two bloggers, Andrea Marcotte and Melissa McEwan, who recently quit the John Edwards campaign after coming under fire for bigoted, irresponsible, and vulgar statements they'd written on their own blogs in the past.
For days, a New York City police officer, Cesar A. Borja, who died of lung disease last month, was held up as a symbol of the medical crisis affecting the thousands of emergency personnel and construction workers who labored on the smoking remains of the fallen World Trade Center after the 9/11 attack.
"Hardball" host Chris Matthews lurched even further off the deep end on Wednesday’s "Imus in the Morning." After praising the “great job” Rudy Giuliani did in cleaning up New York City — which Matthews again suggested was done with just “a pinch” of "fascism" — the MSNBC star went on a rant declaring how he’s “sick of southern guys with ranches running this country.”
Losing control, Matthews dropped the F-bomb on national television: “I want a guy to run for President who doesn’t have a fucking — I’m sorry, a ranch.” As host Don Imus began to snicker, Matthews plowed ahead with his Democratic talking points: “Wouldn’t that be good, Don, a guy who wasn’t on the ranch during Katrina, he was on the street corner answering questions?”
The headline conveys the obvious impression that our troops are fighting Iraqi soldiers and not terrorists/"insurgents."
Based on the story that follows, the headline is obviously false.
Bryan thought the headline at the original story had been updated, but that turns out to have been incorrect. Yours truly tipped him, and he noted, that the story is still there in all its ignominy. What's more, he noted, by reviewing Google News results, that the false headline, even if corrected now, has spread around the country and around the world. Further supporting the Pandora's Box nature of the AP's journalistic malpractice, here's a regular Google search on the headline (in quotes) showing that it still generates thousands of hits. And even though most of underlying linked stories appear to have different titles now, some (like this one) still have the original.
And so a major Associated Press claim in "Jamilgate" takes an apparently fatal hit.
According to Bill Costlow of CPATT (Civilian Police Assistance Training Team) in Baghdad, and as forwarded by Lt. Michael Dean of Multinational Corps-Iraq/Joint Operations Command Public Affairs, our now infamous police captain in Iraq appears to be definitively not Jamil Hussein.
Nor is his name Jamil Gholaiem Hussein as statedrepeatedly by the Associated Press Executive Editor Kathleen Carroll and other Associated Press employees.
Nor is his name Jamil Ghdaab Gulaim, as he has been called previously in other accounts. According to his personnel records at MOI, confirmed with BG Abdul-Kareem and then reportedly verified by BG Abdul-Karim Khalaf with AP's Baghdad sources, his name is actually Jamil Gulaim "XX".
The "XX" protects his second middle name and real last names, of which "Hussein" is not a part.
I'd never quite appreciated how amusing the Leftist swarm could be until last night and this morning, where an Associated Press report
that Iraqi Interior Ministry spokesman Brig. Abdul-Karim Khalaf had
finally, at long last confirmed the existence of Captain Jamil Hussein
hit the wires, and liberals around the country (and around the world)
conflated Hussein's ability to exist with the veracity of his claims.
The illogical leap this took—to purposefully decide that someone's
state of existing is an immediate and overwhelming vindication that
everything he claimed was true—is massive in its undertaking, and truly
staggering to behold. Rarely have so many been willing to overlook so
much in the simple hope of being able to say—or in many cases shriek—"I
told you so!"
But the simple fact of the matter is that simply existing does not grant validity to the stories that several someone’s purport to have occurred.
The accuser in the Duke Lacrosse rape case assuredly exists, but it
is her multiple stories and the lack of evidence that throws her
accounts of what happened on the night of March 13, 2006 into question.
She has presented multiple accusations, and multiple versions of her
accusations, and yet, nearly the overwhelming majority of people
following the case to any degree feel she probably falsified the events
she reported. The feel this way because her story kept changing, and
while there should have been copious evidence to support her claims, none has thus far been found.
And so it is with the on-going Associated Press scandal that started
with the claim of one Iraqi Police Captain by the name of Jamil Hussein
on November 24, 2006.
The story of James Kim, who died of hypothermia in a remote part of Oregon after setting out on foot to seek help for his stranded family, was a sad capper to the year 2006 for many. A lot of things went wrong for the Kims as they started out for a holiday trip only to have it end in disaster.
Spencer H. Kim, James Kim's Father, has today a plea appearing in the Washington Post titled The Lessons In My Son's Death. It is a message to Oregon's emergency services community to help stop another tragedy such as befell his son from happening to anyone else.
On December 5 of last year, I wrote a blog post entitled 60 Billion Minutes, where I wrote:
We also know that Jamil Hussein has consistently been a source for at least 60 news stories over two years, and that Jamil Hussein is just one of many apparently fake sources that has driven Associated Press reporting in Iraq.
This presents us with the unsettling possibility that the Associated Press has no idea how much of the news it has reported out of Iraq since the 2003 invasion is in fact real, and how much they reported was propaganda. The failure of accountability here is potentially of epic proportions.
In the weeks since that date, the Associated Press has maintained that the stories they originally reported on November 24-25 of burning mosques and burning men is true, even though almost every single factual claim made in the account has been disputed. The AP maintains this position today, even after the Iraqi Interior Ministry Officially stated that the AP's source, Captain Jamil Hussein, simply didn't exist, and that no one by that name ever worked at the two police stations where AP said he did.
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.
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.
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):
Regret the Error, a blog
corrections has released its annual
list of funniest mistakes, apologies, frauds, hoaxes, and
embarrassments perpetrated by and on the self-styled arbiters of the truth.
Some of my favorites:
Reuters, the news agency that brought you the fraudulent
Adnan Hajj, also makes real mistakes. In an Oct. 25 story about bees,
it mistakenly said that Queen Elizabeth has "10 times the life
expectancy of workers and lays 2,000 eggs a day."
In the dubious sources category: "Don Spille -- A man who
told the Tallahassee Democrat that he lost
everything in Katrina – including his father. Ed Spille Sr.,
father, later contacted the newspaper to disagree. 'I might be dead to
him,' he said. 'At 80 years old, I’m dead to a lot of
student newspaper at Purdue University had a real scoop about Supreme
Court justice Samuel Alito during his nomination process: "His motive
for shooting John Paul in the abdomen on May 13, 1981, remains
unclear," the paper asserted in a caption of Alito being sworn in at a hearing.
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.
Mark Tapscott of the Washington Examiner weighs in on how the Associated Press can extricate themselves from the Jamil Hussein/burning men story in Iraq. Sound familiar?
What AP appears not to grasp is that the most serious questions about
its credibility are already in the minds of millions of people, thanks
in part to the bloggers, but also to the few mainstream media
organizations that have covered the growing controversy.
What is most puzzling about the AP reaction is its failure to do
the one thing that would instantly put the critics in their place -
produce Capt. Jamil Hussein. If he is in fact an Iraqi police captain,
it is impossible to understand why he cannot be produced and his
"Captain Jamil Hussein" is but one of 14 Iraqi-sounding names of
sources quoted by AP that U.S. military officials say cannot be
verified as credible sources.
By this point, the Associated Press has almost assuredly tried to
contact Jamil Hussein to come on camera, in uniform, in his police
office to prove that he does in fact exist, thereby shutting down this
Just as assuredly, the present silence from the Associated Press on
the matter indicates that they have likely failed to produce their
source for over 60 news stories.
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.
The New York Times is trying once again to convince the public that tipping off alleged terrorist front groups about an upcoming government search somehow falls under the umbrella of “the public’s right to information”.
Lawyers for the newspaper tried unsuccessfully to prevent special prosecutor Patrick Fitzgerald from reviewing telephone records that could be used in helping the government determine who leaked the classified information to the newspaper in the government’s obstruction of justice investigation.
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.
There is perhaps no better time to speak well of someone than when they pass away. But tributes can be excessive to the point where the truth is utterly lost, and low moments of someone's career are glossed over. When we lose presidents, partisans of one stripe or the other think the celebration risks ignoring or going beyond the facts of history. In today's Washington Post, Marcia Davis's appreciation of departed New York Times managing editor Gerald Boyd, dismissed by the Times in the furor over utterly fraudulent reporting by Jayson Blair, Davis claims no one can challenge Boyd's record as a stickler for accuracy and against racial favoritism. The caption the front page of the Style section didn't mention Blair, but merely: "As he mentored new generations of journalists, Boyd was an unyielding stickler for accuracy." Davis recalled the Blair scandal this way:
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."
Early on in the recent Israel/Lebanon war, there was a photograph published by both U.S. News and World Report and Time Magazine, which according to captions published with the picture was of a burning Israeli jet, shot down by Hezbullah missiles. The blogosphere was quicktodisputethepicturein question, and the widely-circulated story was that the photograph was actually that of a tire dump.
Well, it seems that the photographer responsible for taking the photograph, Bruno Stevens, has finally sounded off on Lightstalkers (the professional photographer's forum), explaining the photograph and telling the true story of how things ended up the way they did. He also notes that the site was not a tire dump, but was rather an old Lebanese Army base that had either been hit by an Israeli jet, or by a misfired Hezbullah rocket (both possibilites he appears to have recounted in his original captions). The key point that Bruno makes is that, while he sent in a fairly balanced caption to accompany the photograph, the wire services rewrote the caption completely, changing the pertinent facts surrounding the story. Where have we heard that before?
Bruno's story is available in full at Lightstalkers, and I recommend checking it out, even though it is mostly written as a response to someone who has been alleging that he was somehow covering up a civilian massacre or other indiscriminate act by the Israeli Air Force.
Just moments ago on North Carolina' Morning News with Jack Boston on Raleigh-based News-Talk 680 WPTF, former CBS anchor Dan Rather defended the infamous 60 Minutes
story using forged documents to attack President Bush's service with
the Texas Air National Guard as being, "absolutely true," a charge a
testy Rather reiterated at least four or five times.
Rather not only defended the report, but the validity of the forged
documentation that the report relied on, saying it had never been
proven false (despite copious evidence to the contrary).
I've contacted the station, and hope to get audio of that portion of the interview posted later in the morning.