Marc Danziger at Winds of Change has updated us on the search for Jamil Hussein:
After talking about this on Friday, I used some old contacts to call friends in Baghdad on Saturday. We (friends and I) have contacts there through major local Iraqi news orgs there – specifically Al Sabah. They have the ability/credentials to move around, ask questions where others don’t.
So, after some calls, IMs, and e-mail we get a call back by Sat night (California time)/Sunday morning (Baghdad time); there is no Capt. Jamil Hussein at Yarmouk, but there is a Sergeant by that name, with a somewhat dubious reputation (worked directly under Uday, Baathist remnant, etc.). So, we checked further, because, after all, I want to be certain before I start throwing too many things around, and it takes a different type and level of checking to have anything like confidence there than it does here to have something close to certainty – and be sure that we’ll be talking about that a bit later.
Reporters from Al Sabah agreed to go interview the superior officer at the police station. They were on the phone at 4:30 am PST today, and they had gone to Karrada and established there is no Jamail Hussein there (would have been unlikely since Karrada is mostly Shiite, and in fact is mostly the power zone of SCIRI,
Hakeem has his HQ there – and the Sgt at Yarmouk was obviously Sunni). Information then came in that there is a Colonel Jamail Hussein working at Abu Gharib. (Via sources at the Interior Ministry.)
Now, what we know is that there is no Captain by this name, so we presumed that it is likely that it was an alias. The question was whether it someone who’d dissembled about his name or about his rank? And why didn’t anyone else turn up these guys?
Then, today, Michelle Malkin ran a post – prompted by her pushing on CENTCOM – that the real source for the stories is a guy named CPT Jamil Ghdaab, who is being spoken with by CENTCOM and has acknowledged being the source for the stories.
We’ll know more about what he said and why, I’ll guess – but "looking for Captain Hussein" appears to have been the wrong branch to have been barking up – so we’ll stop barking for a bit.
Michelle Malkin has since retracted the update she posted where the source for the AP story was discovered to be a man named Jamil Ghdaab. We should know more in the next few hours, hopefully.
But if it does turn out that Jamil Hussein is actually Jamil Ghdaab then we were lied to by the AP once again. If they didn’t want the identity known of this guy then why not use "anonymous"? Which incidentally has become their very favorite word for Iraq stories ever since this story broke.
While the search for this Jamil Hussein is important, it’s secondary to the bigger story here. That story being the fact that the AP has used, and continues to use, suspect informants for stories. I firmly believe this to a byproduct of their worldview. They WANT to believe the stories given by some Joe Hussein on the street because it solidifies their view that Iraq is going to hell in a handbasket.
Then they can blame Bush for everything and the world will be right once again.
If and when we find this Jamil Hussein he will have to prove that he is a valid police officer and then provide some evidence that this Burning Six story indeed happened for this story to go away. Look at the facts here:
- 3 unnamed witnesses, 1 named witness who recanted, and 1 police officer who is a fraud
- No bodies
- No evidence of any charred clothing at the scene, nor any other evidence that human beings were burnt
- The fact that only 2 pints of kerosene per person was supposedly used to burn these people
- The fact that no family members of the supposed dead have been found nor the identities of the dead themselves
- The fact that the first story stated 4 mosques were burnt, when in fact only one was slightly:
Contrary to recent media reporting that four mosques were burned in Hurriya, an Iraqi Army patrol investigating the area found only one mosque had been burned in the neighborhood.
- The fact that the AP reported they had verified this story by hospital workers:
AP reporters who have been working in Iraq throughout the conflict learned of the mosque incident through witnesses and neighborhood residents and corroborated it with a named police spokesmen and also through hospital and morgue workers.
but later say that witnesses claimed the bodies were IMMEDIATELY buried:
One witness said he and other people from the neighborhood took the six immolation victims to the Sunni cemetery near Baghdad’s Abu Ghraib suburb and buried them after the gunbattle.
- No outcry from the Sunni community (especially the Sunni Association of Muslim Scholars who would have screamed bloody murder if this incident had happened) which another reporter stated was one reason he didn’t believe it:
We reached several people who told us about the mosque attacks, but said they had heard nothing of Sunni worshippers being burned alive. Any big news event travels quickly by word of mouth through Baghdad, aided by the enormous proliferation of cell phones here. Such an incident would have been so abominable that a great many of the residents in Hurriya, as well as in other Sunni Arab districts, would have been in an uproar over it. Hard-line Sunni Arab organizations such as the Muslim Scholars Association or the Iraqi Islamic Party would almost certainly have appeared on television that day or the next to denounce this specific incident. Iraqi clerics and politicians are not shy about doing this. Yet, as far as I know, there was no widespread talk of the incident. So I mentioned it only in passing in my report.
- Neither Al-Jazeera, nor Reuters or the UPI have been able to verify this burning nor did they report on this event. Only the AP
No evidence whatsoever that this thing happened. And you ask whats the big deal? It’s only one incident they got wrong. The big deal is we no longer know how many more of these stories are fact-checked anymore. Everyday we see new reports from the AP about bodies found dumped in Baghdad. Each and every time Centcom provides me with a number that is 2/3rds less then what the AP reported. Yes, violence on the streets of Baghdad exists but why don’t these reporters go see the bodies for themselves? Why don’t they do just a little fact-checking instead of just printing what one anonymous "police officer" said?
Because the more violence they print the better.
Confederate Yankee is demanding an apology from the AP:
- AP should apologize for running the initial story of six Sunni men being pulled from a mosque and burned alive based upon the testimony of a single source. AP should acknowledge that single-source information has long been considered unreliable by serious news organizations and they should apologize for breaking that cardinal rule of journalism.
- AP should apologize for the multiple failures of reporting in the follow-up story, of which there were many, including:
- Using an embellished version of the same single-sourced account.
- AP should apologize for using the hearsay of an unverified secondary source as support for the primary account.
- AP should apologize for uncritically parroting the claims of multiple additional deaths made by the Association of Muslim Scholars, a group with suspected insurgent ties.
- AP should apologize for failing to check with official sources to verify the veracity of all the claims made above, plus;
- AP should apologize for utterly failing to check or even ask for any physical or photographic evidence to support claims which to this point, claimed four terrorist attacks on mosques and up to 24 deaths, including the 18 alleged killed at al-Muhaimin mosque, and the six men that our source claimed were pulled from a nameless mosque, doused in kerosene, and burned to death.
- AP should apologize for slandering the Iraqi Army, by uncritically repeating the charge that they stood by and did nothing as these terrorist attacks and murders were carried out, when we have no evidence to support that claim.
- AP should apologize as well for the multiple failures of basic editorial fact-checking and source verification that led them to continuing failures of the basic application of journalistic principles in follow-up stories to the original, including:
- stating that these attacks did not end until U.S. forces became involved, despite the fact that a simple call to the MNF-I Public Affairs Office would have verified that no U.S. forces deployed to Hurriyah that or any other day, because Hurriyah is nota U.S area of responsibility.
- claiming by name that the Ahbab al-Mustafa, Nidaa Allah, al-Muhaimin and al-Qaqaqa mosques were attacked "with rocket-propelled grenades, heavy machine guns and automatic rifles," before being burned, without taking the very basic steps of verifying through official or secondary sources that these mosques were in fact attacked.
- AP should apologize for slandering the Iraq Police for insisting they did nothing to stop the alleged attacks as well.
- AP should also apologize for attacking those who questioned all of these easily noticeable inconsistencies.
- AP should apologize to their literally billions of readers that they failed, to which they have an obligation to report facts, not propaganda, and not a convenient "truthy" narrative.
- AP should apologize to the U.S military for doubting their honor and integrity. When they put their names and reputations on the line, AP hid behind anonymous stringers and apparently false witnesses.
- AP should apologize to the Iraqi Police, the Iraqi Army, the Iraqi Ministries of Defense, Interior, and Health for slandering their employees.
I second that motion!
SeeDubya has done up a map of all the reported violent incidents sourced by Jamil Hussein, take a look:
So how does he know what he knows about things all over the city, and so quickly? And why does he rush to tell the AP about them? If he’s just sitting there scanning the police radio, why does Reuters need him at all–or why do they bother to talk to anyone else? There’s simply no way he’s getting all this information first-hand; at one point he describes two incidents that happened in different neighborhoods at the same time. I’ve no reason to believe he was in Hurriya on the day of the mosque attack, especially since his version of events has been contradicted now not just by CENTCOM, and the MOI, but also by Marc Danziger’s associates there.
Great work by SeeDubya and Geoff from Uncommon Misconceptions getting this map done. This is one bad ass police Captain huh? He can fly from corner to corner of Baghdad and supply all the information the AP needs.
Lastly, take a look at some great commentary by Ragner at The Jawa Report on the lefts defense of the AP:
From what I can tell, the left is almost completely uninterested in whether or not the news stories coming out of the Middle East are true or false. This is true even where the stories are at least inaccurate if not complete fabrications. The left seems unwilling to accept that local stringers sometimes lie. I don’t care what your politics are. How can you possibly think it’s a GOOD thing for big media to be peddling FALSE STORIES, whatever their source? Is this what the LEFT stands for today, allowing multinational corporations to LIE to the people with impunity? If not, then shouldn’t those on the LEFT be every bit as critical of shoddy journalism as those of us on the RIGHT are? Whatever our agendas may be, shouldn’t we start with the ACCURATE FACTS and go forward from there?
Facts! We don’t need no stinkin facts! We are the AP dammit, you must listen to us and listen to us now!
UPDATE II 2300hrs PST
Recall when I said this above:
Everyday we see new reports from the AP about bodies found dumped in Baghdad. Each and every time Centcom provides me with a number that is 2/3rds less then what the AP reported.
Well here is today’s daily AP bloodshed report:
Late in the day, police said they had found 44 bodies across the capital, some of them handcuffed, blindfolded and showing signs of torture – often the hallmarks of reprisal killings by Shiite Muslim and Sunni Arab death squads.
This was filed by the AP at 1647hrs PST
And how many were confirmed?
MNCI is tracking 22 bodies found in 17 separate incidents for
the period 24 hours ending at 6 a.m. on 19 Dec.
Exactly half the amount reported by the AP. Btw, 6am in Baghdad 1900hrs PST.
Get my drift yet? While the violence in Baghdad is definately something that should be written about at least they could verify the numbers right? Instead they go with whatever any yahoo tells them to make it look even worse.