Thursday, January 04, 2007

Caw caw munch munch

-- by Dave

Color me surprised: there really is a Jamil Hussein:
BAGHDAD (AP) -- The Interior Ministry acknowledged Thursday that an Iraqi police officer whose existence had been denied by the Iraqis and the U.S. military is in fact an active member of the force, and said he now faces arrest for speaking to the media.

Ministry spokesman Brig. Abdul-Karim Khalaf, who had previously denied there was any such police employee as Capt. Jamil Hussein, said in an interview that Hussein is an officer assigned to the Khadra police station, as had been reported by The Associated Press.

The captain, whose full name is Jamil Gholaiem Hussein, was one of the sources for an AP story in late November about the burning and shooting of six people during a sectarian attack at a Sunni mosque.

The U.S. military and the Iraqi Interior Ministry raised the doubts about Hussein in questioning the veracity of the AP's initial reporting on the incident, and the Iraqi ministry suggested that many news organization were giving a distorted, exaggerated picture of the conflict in Iraq. Some Internet bloggers spread and amplified these doubts, accusing the AP of having made up Hussein's identity in order to disseminate false news about the war.

Khalaf offered no explanation Thursday for why the ministry had initially denied Hussein's existence, other than to state that its first search of records failed to turn up his full name. He also declined to say how long the ministry had known of its error and why it had made no attempt in the past six weeks to correct the public record.

Hussein was not the original source of the disputed report of the attack; the account was first told on Al-Arabiya satellite television by a Sunni elder, Imad al-Hashimi, who retracted it after members of the Defense Ministry paid him a visit. Several neighborhood residents subsequently gave the AP independent accounts of the Shiite militia attack on a mosque in which six people were set on fire and killed.

Better yet, it turns out that Hussein is being arrested solely because he talked to the AP reporters:
Khalaf told the AP that an arrest warrant had been issued for the captain for having contacts with the media in violation of the ministry's regulations.

Hussein told the AP on Wednesday that he learned the arrest warrant would be issued when he returned to work on Thursday after the Eid al-Adha holiday. His phone was turned off Thursday and he could not be reached for further comment.

Hussein appears to have fallen afoul of a new Iraqi push, encouraged by some U.S. advisers, to more closely monitor the flow of information about the country's violence, and strictly enforce regulations that bar all but authorized spokesmen from talking to media.

In other words, Hussein is being arrested only because Malkin and her cohorts raised a ruckus questioning his very existence. As Lindsay says, maybe she can interview Hussein in his jail cell while she's there on her upcoming trip.

In other words, Malkin and her friends have successfully criminalized the flow of any information outside of official Iraqi channels.

Nice going, gang. I'm sure the reporters on the ground in Baghdad will thank you for that.

Crooks and Liars has more, and so does Brad R at Sadly, No!

As I pointed out previously:
[L]ike all the other would-be media critics in this matter, [Malkin's] eagerness to parrot the government line in this case is noteworthy -- especially since they all are notably skeptical of the government when it suits their own agendas.

But as this case demonstrates, defending an increasingly indefensible war boils down to accusing the press reporting on the disaster of treasonous behavior, including running false reports that amount to "carrying propaganda for the enemies of Iraq." Even if it's the military authorities doing so -- and right-wing bloggers taking their reports at face value -- without a trace of irony.

Because, as we know, the military authorities in Iraq have been giving us the straight poop at every turn of the screw, right? The toppling of Saddam's statue, Jessica Lynch, Fallujah, Pat Tillman, Haditha. Why, they're just pictures of credibility.

Greg Sargent remarks:
Oh, dear. It will be interesting to see what Malkin, Curt of Flopping Aces, Powerline Blog's John Hinderaker, and all the other merry wingers who promoted this story have to say about this new development. Of particular interest will be to see what the hapless Eason Jordan, the former CNN chief who actually offered to fly Malkin to Iraq so the two could hunt for Hussein together, has to say about it.

These bloggers actually managed to kick up enough dust around this story that some mainstream news orgs were suckered into paying attention to this attack on one of their own and granting it a semblance of legitimacy. The truth is, however, that this attack was never about discovering whether or not that episode happened. It was really an effort by the wingers to try and discredit a news org that was bringing back imagery of the war in Iraq that was turning the American public against the conflict and causing their beloved leader to sink ever deeper in the polls.

Well, we haven't had to wait long. Malkin's response initially was fairly noncommittal: "Checking it out. Moving forward." But sure enough, she shortly follows up with more updates that -- quite predictably, as anyone who's dealt with Malkin could have foreseen -- simply move the goalposts.

She cites her chief cohort in this, Curt at Flopping Aces: "As many of us have said from the beginning, finding Jamil Hussein will not make this story go away..."

Then there's Dan Riehl:
Fascinating. But let me be the first to say to the Left, before they lose themselves in glee, I don't see that bloggers have anything to apologize for, nor do I see this story being at an end. The ultimate question is what happened in Hurriya the day six Sunnis were claimed to have been burned alive?

Or Ed Morrissey: "Whether Jamil Hussein actually exists is really a secondary issue."

My personal fave was Mickey Kaus:
Capt. Jamil Hussein, controversial AP source, seems to exist. That's one important component of credibility!

Yes, indeed, actually existing is one component of credibility. So is acknowledging openly when you're wrong.

And the funny thing is, not one of these people is willing to stand up and admit that they were wrong. None of them has enough integrity to stand up and apologize to the Associated Press and its reporters for openly accusing them of engaging in gross journalistic fraud, and for doing so on shaky grounds that revealed a complete lack of understanding of the nature of journalistic work -- particularly the relationship of reporters to officialdom.

Remember, it was this crowd who made Jamil Hussein's very existence an open question. There was Malkin herself:
"Who is Jamil Hussein?" is becoming the new "Who is John Galt?"

The question was bantered about by a whole host of right-wing bloggers, including Austin Bay.

Over at Powerline, the integrity of the AP as an institution was called into question:
The story was reported world-wide. The only official source for the account, however, was "Police Capt. Jammil Hussein." CENTCOM initially said that it had not been able to confirm the account of the burned-alive Sunnis. Upon further investigation, it appears that the incident probably never occurred at all. In addition, "Police Capt. Jamil Hussein" appears to be non-existent.

... The difficulty of getting reliable reporting out of Iraq should not become an excuse for an abandonment of all journalistic standards.

Curt at Flopping Aces used it to bash the MSM generally:
The MSM has been using bogus officials to supply chaos to their stories and based on those same stories has decided Iraq is now a official civil war.

And Bay intimated that they were all being dupes of the insurgency:
Not only is Capt. Hussein bogus, but another source the AP has used extensively is bogus.

The insurgency knows what they are doing here.

Meanwhile, Eason Jordan used it to apparently promote his new career as a Faux-style journalist:
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.

It's useful to recall, too, that CENTCOM itself sent a request for retraction to the Associated Press:
We can tell you definitively that the primary source of this story, police Capt. Jamil Hussein, is not a Baghdad police officer or an MOI employee. We verified this fact with the MOI through the Coalition Police Assistance Training Team . . .

And then there's Malkin herself. As I noted back when this first came up:
Mind you, this isn't the first time Malkin's predilection for accusing working journalists of unethical -- or even treasonous -- behavior on questionable grounds has been highlighted. As always, it raises real questions among journalists, at least, just what kind of "professional journalist" this is.

Because Malkin isn't merely questioning the data professionally: she flat-out accuses the Associated Press of running a phony story and being in cahoots with the terrorists in Iraq. She writes, with no sense of irony: "MSM credibility, R.I.P."

Oh, there are a number of the dessicated corpses now littering the media landscape here. I'm pretty sure Malkin's credibility suffered the equivalent of an ebola infection about the time she wrote her book on the internment, but for some reason she keeps trotting it out for public flogging periodically.

And in case anyone forgot: Boehlert was right, too.

UPDATE: More from Glenn Greenwald, the General, Bob Geiger, and Nitpicker.

Steve Gilliard, who also has a post on this, writes:
You know, these morons don't even get why this story was important.

It wasn't about sourcing, but the fact that the Madhi Army went batshit. That their power is unchallenged within Baghdad.

So they concentrate on the details and forget the more important story, which is the rise of Sadr and his militia. They think the AP made this up? The AP has photos which would make them puke.

They deny the obvious.

That's because it's obvious they are wrong about the war on Iraq, and have been for the past four years. And that's the last thing they'll ever admit.

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