Jamilgate: Is the AP covering its tracks?

Now here’s something interesting. Curt was reading over the AP’s press releases about Jamilgate on the AP website and noticed that something seemed to be missing from John Daniszewski’s statement on November 28th. So he cross-checked it against another statement from Daniszewski issued that same day and published on one of USA Today’s blogs.

Here’s the USA Today statement.


The key paragraph is this one:

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.

Okay. Now here’s the statement on the AP website. It’s not the same statement as the one above: it references the correspondence they received from Lt. Dean and a subsequent phone call placed to Jamil Hussein to double-check the story. But it’s similar to the USA Today version in most respects.


What’s missing from this paragraph?

AP reporters who have been working in Iraq throughout the conflict learned of the mosque incident through witnesses and later corroborated it with police.

What happened to the neighborhood residents and the morgue and hospital workers?

Curt seems to think the two statements were originally identical and that the AP has since doctored the version on its own site to hide details they’re no longer confident about. I don’t think so; like I say, they were issued at different points in time. But the question remains — why didn’t the morgue and hospital workers make it into Daniszewski’s second, later statement? An earlier article was quite specific about them:

Imad al-Hasimi, a Sunni elder in Hurriyah, confirmed Hussein’s account. He told Al-Arabiya television he saw people who were soaked in kerosene, then set afire.

Two workers at Kazamiyah Hospital said the bodies were taken to their morgue. They refused to be identified, saying they feared retribution.

The workers’ testimony only bolsters the AP’s case. Why would Daniszewski have omitted it? If it’s because he no longer felt confident they were telling the truth, why wasn’t a clarification issued? But then, this does seem to be the AP’s M.O. when a fact goes bad on them, like with the four supposedly burned mosques — they don’t retract it, they simply stop mentioning it and hope that people forget about it. Just ask Robert Bateman.