As promised: Iraqi spokesman says AP police source is phony; Update: NYT blog picks up the story; Update: AP responds, ducks the issue

posted at 11:18 am on November 30, 2006 by Allahpundit

Centcom said he’d mention it at today’s MOI presser, and so he did:

[W]e have some of the respected news outlets that deal with news fast and have a relation with many TV channels and the media in general, who distributed a story quoting a person called Jamil Hussein. Afterward, we searched our sources in our staff for anyone by this name– maybe he wore an MOI uniform and gave a different name to the reporter for money. And the second name used is Lt. Maythem…

[Y]ou should contact MOI PAO for all your needs to get real, true news. Based on that, we strongly deny any relation with those two names. In order to serve you better and strengthen the relationship with MOI, do not take statements that have no meaning and do not represent any official…

[W]e ask our people, please do not take any news or give it credibility, except from a well-known source with a name and an address that is part of the security ministries, etc., such as a minister or police station commander. Or if it is from the MOD or MOI, the name of the officer, his rank, his unit, etc. It is not enough to say “a source from the ministry of interior.”

Doing otherwise, you will end up helping the spread of the rumors and make them reality, even thought it was a false rumor. This rumor business — if a large issue, it will take a long time to cover it, but the purpose of the rumors is to disrupt life and make the security apparatus busy with other things than its main tasks. We will end up following rumors instead of hunting terrorists and criminals.

An AP reporter was there but there’s nothing on the wire yet. I’ll update when there is. Keep your eye on USA Today’s “On Deadline” blog, which has been following this for the past three days.

The spokesman didn’t mention the “burned alive” incident specifically so we’ve probably heard the last of it on both sides.

Update: The story hasn’t hit the Times proper yet but it has reached one of its blogs. Author Tom Zeller notes that the Times itself covered the “burned alive” incident this way:

In the evening, a resident named Imad al-Hashemi said in a telephone interview on Al Jazeera, the Arab news network, that gunmen had doused some people with gasoline and set them on fire. Other residents contacted by telephone denied this.

Emphasis mine. I hadn’t heard that before.

He’s also suspicious about how/why an e-mail sent by Centcom to the AP made it so quickly onto conservative blogs. Er, because Centcom shared it with Flopping Aces after he inquired about Jamil Hussein? Surely America’s one-stop shopping center for leaks isn’t tut-tutting at us over this, is it?

Update: Patterico thinks Jamil Hussein might well indeed be a cop, just not an official Iraqi cop.

Update: Rusty notes that there’s potentially even bigger news in the press release: the capture of someone named Ali Nazar al-Jubori, who may or may not Iraq’s infamous Juba the Sniper. Yeah, that’s a great moral victory, but killing Zarqawi was a great moral victory too and six months later we are where we are.

One less jihadi to worry about, though.

Update: See-Dubya makes an excellent point about the “burned alive” story. If, as one eyewitness told the AP, all the victims were members of the al-Mashadani tribe, then even if it happened the way they said it happened, this may be less a case of sectarian violence than bad ol’ family feud.

Update: Dan Riehl notes an article from last year claiming that the al-Mashadani family from Hurriya, where the burning took place, left for Syria. The victims ID’d in the AP article were members of the al-Mashadani “tribe,” though, and in any case there are a lot of al-Mashadanis in Iraq. It might not be the same family, either.

Update: Here’s the AP response to today’s press conference in an e-mail to Flopping Aces. It’s unsatisfying in two respects:

[T]he U.S. military and Iraqi government spokesmen attack our reporting because that captain’s name is not on their list of authorized spokespeople. Their implication that we may have given money to the captain is false. The AP does not pay for information. Period.

Further, the Iraqi spokesman said today that reporting on the such atrocities “shows that the security situation is worse than it really is.” He is speaking from a capital city where dozens of bodies are discovered every day showing signs of terrible torture. Where people are gunned down in their cars, dragged from their homes or blown apart in public places every single day.

Point one: the Iraqis aren’t claiming that Jamil Hussein isn’t an authorized police spokesman, they’re claiming that he isn’t a policeman. Big difference, no? If a reporter at a crime scene interviews a cop and then refers to him in the article as an “official police spokesman,” it’s an error but it doesn’t call into question the reliability of the information. If he interviews a bystander and refers to him as a cop, it does. They’re ducking the issue here.

And point two: that second paragraph is nothing more than “fake but accurate” with the “fake” part as yet unsettled.

Update: “On Deadline” finally has a post up about the day’s events. It’s uneventful except for this tidbit from the Iraqi spokesman’s press conference, which pretty well confirms what we knew before:

Gen. al-Kenani said … [t]hat the story of the burnings “is another rumor; we dispatched our forces to the area where the rumor claimed the burning took place and found nothing. We also sent a team to al-Dab Aladly (medical center) and I was in touch with this center. No one can confirm any burned, dead body was received. (The Ministry of Defense) also has no information about this incident, either.”


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More interesting news today. I was telling my mom on the phone the other day that she can not rely just on the news paper and the evening news for facts, that the AP and Reuters are either in the tank for the terrorists or have been severely compromised by the terrorists.

zerodamage on November 30, 2006 at 11:39 AM

Hmmm. The MSM screws it up again by relying on shady sources and Local National stringers who have other agendas to feed them info while they sit back and sip lattes in the Green Zone. Scary thing is there is only around 15 actual embed journalists in country seeing ground truth with our forces. Sad.

Trooper on November 30, 2006 at 11:43 AM

“The New York Times picks up the story!” How perfect. We all know the NYT absolutely does not need any truthful facts to report a story. Just give them a small seed and they will nurture it into a story where you can bet in the end there will be White House involvment, proably with Karl Rove lighting the match that burned these poor fellows to death!

NEMETI IN SYRACUSE on November 30, 2006 at 11:46 AM

proably with Karl Rove lighting the match that burned these poor fellows to death!

Nah, not a match. He’ll use his evil laser vision to ignite them which, by the way, also contributes to global warning.

Trooper on November 30, 2006 at 11:49 AM

(sarcasm) Wasn’t Cheney in the area… he must of stopped by on his way back from Saud for a smoke…

E L Frederick (Sniper One) on November 30, 2006 at 11:49 AM

There is no way the average American is going to get this news, without a means to correct and challenge the AP, Reuters, NYT wires that all US local papers use for national and international news.
The GOP lost the election becuase it did not effectively counter the MSM worldview, which is based on making sure the Dems/Left should always be presented in the best possible light.
The magnitude is this: every single hometown paper has to have a steady set of questions posed to it, starting with the letters to the editor, asking the paper why it is continuing to use these wire services as news sources when they’ve been caught using terrorist propaganda and terrorist enablers as “reporters/photographers.” Also, presenting articles from the blogs (with permission) that discuss these events and give more reliable background. The internet isn’t widespread enough yet to counter the reality created by the MSM. Radio news, which is straight off the wires, is always read as reality when much of it is bald opinion. The glut of fluff celebrity pieces presented earnestly sly is employed to avoid talking about real issues.

naliaka on November 30, 2006 at 12:02 PM

Michael Fumento was on “Brian and the Judge” on Fox News Radio this morning fresh back from Ramadi talking about the non-airstrike, airstrike that was widely reported on in Ramadi. He was there and says there was no airstrike.
He also talked about some guy who wrote a book about the deplorable conditions in the Al Anbar province, all of this while never setting foot on the ground.
And the beat goes on

LakeRuins on November 30, 2006 at 12:06 PM

I would like to know when the propaganists for the terrorist in the MSM are held accountable? Isn’t this giving aide and comfort to the enemy? Hating President Bush to the point of giving away secrets, and reporting lies to the point that our enemy uses this tripe to replentish it’s ranks has to count for at least a traffic ticket! Don’t these people know that the damage they are doing can not be “turned off” if only Hilary wins in 08? This is Treason with a capital “T”, and as usual, the MSM poo-poos any cause and effect of their deliberate misinformation.

PinkyBigglesworth on November 30, 2006 at 12:20 PM

Wow, the media lies to us? Next thing you know, the Democrats will beak campaign pledges.

JammieWearingFool on November 30, 2006 at 12:24 PM

Hmmm, I wonder if today’s response from AP will be the same as yesterdays? It doesn’t seem all that ludicrous anymore, does it?

He’s also suspicious about how/why an e-mail sent by Centcom to the AP made it so quickly onto conservative blogs.

Hey, its the Centcom Public Affairs Office. It their freaking job. Its not out fault you stopped reporting the Centcom press releases ages ago.

BohicaTwentyTwo on November 30, 2006 at 12:29 PM

Unfortunately, it seems that the current wire services are corrupt, but there is nothing to take their place that is more reliable… they are really just trading on their reputation for the past however many years

Canadian Imperialist Running Dog on November 30, 2006 at 12:56 PM

“We at AP categorically reject the allegation that we are paying our fake source for information. I can truthfully tell you that no money has ever been passed between AP reporters and fake policemen.”

BohicaTwentyTwo on November 30, 2006 at 1:47 PM

“Other residents contacted by telephone denied this.”

That particular statement really hit me Allah. The press is ‘phoning’ people in a zone where a particular act is committed? Did someone call them first. I never heard of the neighborhoods having water or electric let along phone service so that leaves:Cell? So, how many cell phone numbers do they have to call “residents” to find out what happens at any given time/moment in any neighborhood??????

auspatriotman on November 30, 2006 at 2:40 PM

This issue was just covered on Cavuto with the director of Frontpage.com. Keith Ellison is up next (after commercial break)

Anybody else think Fox News is reading Hot Air and some other blogs very closely of late…

forest on November 30, 2006 at 4:32 PM

Is the Boss lobbying Fox to bring this to O’Reilly or H&C?

laelaps on November 30, 2006 at 4:43 PM

I find it curious that while AP keeps going on about a “named” source, they are actively avoiding identifying their “reporter” who has interviewed him. Why would a news agency keep a journalist anonymous?

rokemronnie on November 30, 2006 at 10:27 PM

I am still waiting for proof of life from AP.

BohicaTwentyTwo on December 1, 2006 at 12:53 PM