Got an interesting tip from a sharp-eyed reader this morning. A few days after Thanksgiving, back when Jamilgate was just starting to break, AP International Editor John Daniszewski issued a statement promising that a new, more complete article on the burning six was forthcoming. Included in the statement:
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.
The new article hit the wires the next day. Quote:
One witness said he and other people from the neighborhood took the six immolation victims to the Sunni cemetery near Baghdad’s Abu Ghraib suburb and buried them after the gunbattle. That witness said one of the victims was the Mustafa mosque muezzin or prayer caller, Ahmed al-Mashadani. He did not know the names of the five others, but said they were all members of the al-Mashadani tribe.
Query: what happened to the hospital and morgue workers? That paragraph strongly implies that the locals took the corpses directly to the graveyard and the article doesn’t so much as mention a hospital or a morgue. How did the AP corroborate the story with workers at those locations if, presumably, they never even saw the bodies?
Assuming that the author was just sloppy and meant to say that the bodies were first taken to the morgue, isn’t there some documentation available that can verify they were there? Death certificate, coroner’s report? Something? It’s Jamil redux: instead of simply producing the concrete evidence which it claims exists and planting a big cream pie in the blogosphere’s face, the AP takes the ipse dixit approach. Why?
Update: Dan Riehl points to this AP article published two days before Daniszewski’s statement with details about the morgue.
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.
Al-Hasimi later recanted his story, albeit after someone in Iraq’s Defense Ministry came to see him about it. Re: the morgue workers, though, that clearly bolsters AP’s version of the story. Why weren’t they mentioned in the second article, then? Is there documentation of the bodies being admitted to the hospital? If the AP’s got a smoking gun here, why not use it?