Jamilgate: U.S. officers tell Michelle "burning six" incident didn't happen

Her Sunday column for the Post is live and photos of the four Hurriya mosques are up at MM.com. Video will appear on this site tomorrow. Quote:

Bryan Preston and I visited the area during our Iraq trip last week. Several mosques did, in fact, come under attack by Mahdi Army forces. But the “destroyed” mosques all still stand. Iraqi and U.S. Army officials say that two of them received no fire damage whatsoever. Another, which we filmed, was abandoned and empty when it was attacked…

Capt. Aaron Kaufman of Task Force Justice, which works closely with the Iraqi Army battalion that was on the scene and monitored events as they happened, told us: “It was blown way out of proportion, there was nobody lit on fire.”

Capt. Stacy Bare, the civil-affairs officer who took us on patrol in Hurriya, concurred: “There were no six Sunnis burned.”…

Lt. Col. Steven Miska, commander of the Dagger Brigade at Forward Operating Base Justice, observed: “Part of it is, if you’re relying on Iraqi reporters, well, what are their biases? What clans are they from and tribes? Why are they telling me this? What’s his underlying motivation? And if you quote a police chief, well, those guys have underlying motivations, too . . .”

“I’ve gone out and found police chiefs on the street and said, ‘What happened here?’ Something just blew up and he told me, ‘Well, U.S. airplanes just bombed this building.’

“I said, ‘What are you talking about? It was freakin’ insurgent rockets that just hit the building, I picked them up on radar.’ ” But he just told the reporter on the street that U.S. warplanes bombed the building and killed 13 people…

Deception and manipulation are also tools of the insurgent trade. Satellites, cellphones and Internet cafes aid insurgent and militia propaganda wars 24/7.

It behooves the Western media to acknowledge these realities and maintain as much transparency about their sources and local stringers as possible.

Update: Video of the Hurriya mosques is now posted.