Barry Caro, a sophomore at Princeton, penned a great article a few weeks ago in the college paper about the Jamil Hussein story:
The most explosive and far-reaching news story of the year has nothing to do with underage pages and a certain Republican ex-Congressman. This story involves ignition in the streets of Baghdad and six immolations that probably never occurred. While Mark Foley took down a congressional majority, the tale of Jamil Hussein may end up permanently damaging the credibility of the world’s premier news gathering source, the Associate Press (AP).
The story begins on Nov. 24 when Qais al-Bashir, an Iraqi "stringer" working for the AP, wrote a story in which he alleged that Shiite militiamen avenging earlier attacks burned down four Sunni mosques in Baghdad and that during this rampage, they burned six Sunni civilians alive.[…]Shortly after the story was published, U.S. Central Command and the Iraqi Ministry of the Interior sent units to the neighborhood where the attacks were said to have taken place. They found no bodies, no other witnesses who would corroborate the story and only one lightly damaged mosque. Perplexed, they questioned the local "imam." He quickly recanted his story. So the ministry went looking for Jamil Hussein and discovered that no one by that name is employed by the Iraqi police. After confirming that no Captain Hussein existed, the ministry publicly stated that Hussein is one of more than a dozen official sources quoted in the press who are not who they claim to be. […]That the story is wrong is beyond debate; even the AP now refers to one burned mosque, not four, so the question is not "if" but "how badly" the AP screwed up. Yet instead of an apology, the AP’s response to criticism has been to shoot the messenger. […]So why have traditional media sources not reported this controversy? Because it is not in their interests to undermine the AP. This summer’s "fauxtography" scandal at Reuters, in which photographers were found to have photoshopped evidence of Israeli atrocities during the Hezbollah war, did not hit at the underlying narrative. The storyline stayed the same with different details. If the AP has to issue a correction for all 61 stories in which Hussein was quoted, it will call into question fundamental perceptions about what is happening in Iraq. If Hussein isn’t real, it suggests that there are other as yet undiscovered fakes.
Meanwhile Confederate Yankee noticed something amiss….again, in the AP’s initial reporting of the Burning Six story:
In the detailed follow-up account to the initial "burning six" story AP insisted:
Two workers at Kazamiyah Hospital also confirmed that bodies from the clashes and immolation had been taken to the morgue at their facility.
They refused to be identified by name, saying they feared retribution.
This is a damn fine trick. According to Iraqi Brigadier General Abdul-Kareem, (via an email exchange with MNC-I PAO) their is no morgue at Kazamiyah Hospital. Any dead at Kazamiyah Hospital are transported by the police to the Medical Jurisprudence Center at Bab Almadham.
And SeeDubya points out that this is more the likely the reason the AP changed their story…again:
Think that’s a pretty good catch, huh? Maybe the AP caught it themselves, because on November 28th, when they re-visited Hurriya after more challenges, this is what a witness told them:
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. That witness said one of the victims was the Mustafa mosque muezzin or prayer caller, Ahmed al-Mashadani. He did not know the names of the five others, but said they were all members of the al-Mashadani tribe.
Is this how the AP corrects its stories? Whether there is a morgue at Kazamiyah hospital or not, the destination of the bodies changed within three days, without notice or explanation. Why would we presume this witness–supposedly one of their two anonymous eyewitnesses to the burning–is any more reliable than the fellow who said the bodies went into the morgue at Kazamiyah hospital? Which of the AP’s sources lied to them?
Meanwhile, does anyone else notice that the AP no longer names ANY source in their Iraq reporting. Seems like everyone "wants" to be anonymous nowadays. How convenient:
The doctor, who has provided information in the past, spoke on condition of anonymity because of security concerns.
Said a physician at the nearby Nuaman Hospital, who has provided information to the Associated Press in the past. He also asked to remain anonymous out of concern for his safety.
The bomb killed five people and wounded 14 others, police said.
and wounded six others, police said
That is one single report from earlier today. Four separate incidents and no one was named.
The AP is hoping that if they ignore the hoopla over Jamil Hussein that it will all go away. They will continue to use questionable sources, just now they won’t name them, and in the end nothing changes. We still get hyped up stories about the "hell on earth" we call Iraq.
As I named my original post which broke the Jamil Hussein story, they are STILL getting the news from the enemy.
Finally, Nancy French writes about the blunders made on the left for 2006:
November: After months of therapy trying to “find himself,” Iraqi Jamil Hussein realizes he doesn’t exist after all — in spite of his frequent mentions in the Associated Press. A blogger uncovers the revelation that the AP used false sources and fabricated stories of war atrocities. James Frey doesn’t see what the big deal is, since a “higher truth” is being told.
Facts! We don’t need no stinkin’ facts!