I laid off this post at Flopping Aces initially because I didn’t think there was anything particularly suspicious about the cop. Centcom was disputing his report of the six Sunnis burned alive by Shiites but they could have been wrong just as easily as he could. I also didn’t (and still don’t) see Curt’s point about the cop only being quoted in cases where Shiites attack Sunnis. If he’s stationed in an area where Shiite attacks on Sunnis are common, that’s going to happen.
But go see his latest update, all the way at the bottom. And bear in mind — the AP’s been using this guy for months.
I learned something important about reporting from Iraq in general. Big Media journalists often rely on sources that are unreliable. They don’t tell you the pressures these sources might be under from insurgents and terrorists. They refuse to tell you who their stringers are, so we can assess their motivations. They get quotes from doctors who seem to see only civilian deaths. If the military has been given insufficient time to respond to an allegation, these journalists don’t check with the military later, to verify that the story they’ve written is accurate. And sometimes, as here, their stories are completely at odds with numerous other accounts reported in other press outlets — and they seem to have no interest in finding out why.
It’s very sobering to realize that much of the news coming out of Iraq is completely unreliable.
Goldstein thinks this is evidence that the violence in Iraq isn’t pandemic, which is a lot further than I’m willing to go. But he’s always worth reading, so partake. Centcom, meanwhile, is demanding a retraction from the AP. They haven’t, to my knowledge, demanded one from the L.A. Times, but Patterico sort of has. Response thus far: zero.
Update: If Curt’s site goes down, the backup is here.
Update: Curt’s posted a new update at his backup site. According to him, Centcom is waiting to hear back from the AP before issuing a press release about this. They’ve requested a retraction of the “burned alive” story or “a correction at a minimum.”
Update: The latest from the AP: allegations of a massacre perpetrated by American soldiers, with none of the witnesses — including “police” — willing to have their names printed and Centcom denying that there were any U.S. military operations in the area at the time.
Some of the injured were taken to a hospital in Sadr City. If that’s where their neighborhood is, it’s no wonder they’d prefer to blame U.S. troops than any of the likelier local suspects.
Update: See-Dubya wants to know (a) who is Qais al-Bashir and (b) why is his byline on (almost) every AP story that quotes phony police captain Jamil Hussein?
Update: Get this — See-Dubya cross-checked the list of names of suspicious Iraqi forces provided by Centcom and got a hit. Where? In an article about the same shady doings in Ramadi that inspired the L.A. Times article about the airstrike that wasn’t.