Lt. Col. Bateman writes a great article at Media Matters about his history with the AP, some of which you can read in my earlier post here, and about the Jamil Hussein episode. He goes over many of the details I posted about in the past including the distance one:
The AP, I should note, in their counterattack against those who questioned their story and sources, said, "It’s awfully easy to take pot shots from the safety of a computer keyboard thousands of miles from the chaos of Baghdad." The AP executive who said that did so from New York City, but ya know what? Unlike that AP editor, I know something about Baghdad. Having lived in Iraq for a year (returning this past February, if you all recall), and knowing Baghdad well, one additional thing that has blown my mind about this, and the silence from the majority of the media (except E&P, which is covering the story well), is a simple element of geography.
The AP cites their source as being an officer in the Yarmouk district of Baghdad. Fine. Most people in the U.S. and the world don’t know Baghdad’s geography. But the question that hit me is "why is somebody in Yarmouk the main quoted source (originally) for a story about events in Hurriyah?"
Yarmouk is a neighborhood on the north side of what many people know as "Route Irish." Between Yarmouk and Hurriyah neighborhood are the districts of Al Andalous and Al Mansoor (parallel w/ each other), above that is Al Mutanabbi, and above that is Al Urubah … before you get to Hurriyah. It’s more than 3 miles away. Now for country folk like me, 3 miles isn’t but spitting distance. But in a city of 7 million, like NYC or Baghdad, 3 miles is a huge distance.
In other words, in going to their "normal" source for this story, the AP went to the equivalent of a Brooklyn local police precinct for a story that occurred in northern Yonkers! Hello? What would a cop in Brooklyn know about a crime in Yonkers? That’s what doesn’t make sense to me. (And why didn’t the AP reveal, until challenged, that this source was not from the district where the events allegedly occurred, or even from a neighboring district, but is from a moderately distant part of this 7-million-person city?)
What has become even more curious to me is that a assistant of Eason Jordan, Robert Young Pelton, has been making the rounds of the blogs commenting on various Jamil Hussein posts. He is basically trying to dismiss many of our worries that this is a media stunt of some kind. But in one comment at Blackfive he made this assertion:
Hi guys, Robert Young Pelton just to clarify. The offer is genuine, nothing strange or unusual. We go to Iraq all the time so we figured if Michelle wants to see for herself why not. More importantly this is not a military embed. The iraqi in question is not part of any US project. His stated location is currently a no go zone for the US military so she will have to arrange her own security.
So Robert, or RYP as he likes to call himself in the comments, is trying to assert that the US Military cannot go into the Yarmouk district. That make sense to anybody? Since when has the US Military not been able to go into ANY area of Iraq? Oh, but the AP sure could…….
I have a email into Centcom asking about this district and will update as I get it.
RYP’s other comments have been on the order of making excuses for Eason Jordan like so:
As you know Eason was roasted by the right wing for something they never actually heard or saw a transcript of. So he is sensitive to telling and finding the truth.
Finally there is a lot of talk about what Eason said or didnt say. There is no record of what was said and he was responding to Barney Frank flip comments. He took a hit for it even though he didnt have to.
Well, the military hates the media. The conundrum is that we live and die for the Constitution and one of the elements of the Constitution is freedom of the press — the right of the democratic public to make decisions based on a free flow of information, without censorship, without people rewriting history. And basically since the Vietnam War, the military realizes that the press is the enemy, because the press is actually faster and more intelligent than the military is. They can assess a military situation long before the military figures it out.
And in the same breath he states that Al-Qaeda is a myth:
Originally, we all wanted to get to Osama bin Laden and then we were sort of embarrassed by the fact that not only could we not get him, but we had no idea where he is or what he does or what his organization is composed of. And then we created a bogeyman called al-Qaida, which is sort of similar to the term "Mafia," sort of an all-encompassing term.
Any wonder this guy is a shill for Eason? He tries to dismiss the Davos incident, he states the Military won’t go into a certain area of Baghdad, that the Military are a bunch of dummies and hate the media, and that Al-Qaeda is a myth.
But IraqSlogger is going to be a fair enterprise right?
I’ve received a few answers to my "no-go" question. Lt. Col. Bateman answered:
There is no place that is, in a literal sense, a complete "No Go" site for, say, a battalion of infantry in Iraq. I don’t think, however, that I would go into Sadr City on a combat op with much less than that though. No worries on that though, since Sadr City is East, and you want Yarmouk, which is West.
And others have wrote to me saying that the area had been turned over to the Iraqi military so the "no-go" statement may have been about the politics. I guess until RYP clarifies his statement we will be in the dark on this one.