My Answer To The AP, Again


As is typical I was at work when something big occurred in the blogging world.  It appears the AP has issued another silly rebuttal to this growing scandal of the Burning Six and I just checked it out.  (above graphic made by Are We Lumberjacks)

First thought, isn’t this the same rebuttal as the last one except for a added history lesson?

In recent days, a handful of people have stridently criticized The Associated Press’ coverage of a terrible attack on Iraqi citizens last month in Baghdad. Some of those critics question whether the incident happened at all and declare that they don’t believe our reporting.

Indeed, a small number of them have whipped themselves into an indignant lather over the AP’s reporting.

A few people?  Come on now.  If there was only a few people you wouldn’t feel the need to issue not one but two inane rebuttals.

We have sent journalists to the neighborhood three different times to talk with people there about what happened. And those residents have repeatedly told us, in some detail, that Shiite militiamen dragged six Sunni worshippers from a mosque, drenched them with kerosene and burned them alive.

No one else has said they have actually gone to the neighborhood. Particularly not the individuals who have criticized our journalism with such barbed certitude.

Ok, lets hear their names?  How many of them were there who witnessed it?  Where are the families of those killed?

Then she tries to tell us that we have no right to question them because we are not in Iraq?  If you would just produce this Jamil Hussein with proof that he is indeed a police officer employed by the Iraqi government then this whole friggin thing would go away.  But what do you do Ms. Carroll?  Instead of providing proof you attack those who question you. 

What should that tell us about your story? 

What we found were more witnesses who described the attack in particular detail as well as describing the fear that runs through the neighborhood. We ran a lengthy story on those additional findings, as well as the questions, on Nov. 28.

Um, hello?  You found three unnamed witnesses.  That’s it.  Out of a whole neighborhood you found three witnesses who would not give their names.  Puhlease.

Some of AP’s critics question the existence of police Capt. Jamil Hussein, who was one (but not the only) source to tell us about the burning.

These critics cite a U.S. military officer and an Iraqi official who first said Hussein is not an authorized spokesman and later said he is not on their list of Interior Ministry employees. It’s worth noting that such lists are relatively recent creations of the fledgling Iraqi government.

The lists are a new creation, so what?  If its wrong then prove that Jamil Hussein is employed as a police officer in the Iraqi government.  What is so hard about this Ms. Carroll?  Do you not understand that the reason this is gaining more and more traction is because Jamil has not been produced.  No evidence whatsoever has been introduced that proves he is a legitimate police officer, or hell, even a real person.  All we have is your word and I am sorry to tell ya, not many people take reporters at their word these days.

No one – not a single person – raised questions about Hussein’s accuracy or his very existence in all that time. Those questions were raised only after he was quoted by name describing a terrible attack in a neighborhood that U.S. and Iraqi forces have struggled to make safe.

Listen, he had been named in reports going back to April.  No one had bothered to check out this guy up till that point, that’s all.  I got a hunch and started checking on it and I gotta tell ya, it wasn’t that hard to put two and two together.  Basically what I did was called fact checking.  Something I assumed you reporters went to school to learn how to do.  My bad I suppose.  It took one blogger to figure this out, and I’m not the smartest of the bunch by a long shot.  Imagine what kind of REAL reporting your employees could do if they did the fact checking themselves instead of believing stories made out of thin air all because it fits their preconceived beliefs.

The story of the burnings has gotten far more attention in the United States than in Iraq, where vicious torture and death are sadly commonplace. Dozens of Iraqi citizens are gunned down in their cars, dragged from their homes or blown apart in public places every single day.

According to the AP stringers I may add.  While I understand there is violence going on in Iraq, as there is in every city on this earth, the atrocities committed in Iraq seem to take on a mythical scale when reported by the AP.  When I contact the military I get a bit different story.  Still violent but the numbers seem to highly exaggerated quite a bit.

Take for example this report which I blogged on yesterday:

A total of at least 75 people were killed or found dead across Iraq on Wednesday, including 48 whose bullet-riddled bodies were found in different parts of the capital.

When I contacted Centcom they told me that the numbers were a bit different:

For the 24 hours ending Dec. 7 at 6 a.m., MNCI has reports 21 bodies being found through Iraq — 19 in Baghdad and surrounding area, 1 in Tikrit, and 1 in Suwayrah.

However, Coalition Forces is not the authority on these matters because they are categorized as criminal events. Unfortunately, this means that our number cannot be the definitive figure used for the truth.  It only represents the number of bodies that our folks have been able to verify as having been found in one way or another.  I know that the Ministries of Interior and Health have been attempting to get the reporting of inflated numbers under control.

We have been tracking, however, that since August or so, the daily number of bodies reported typically is a little more than double the figure that we have — so in that respect, today seems fairly normal.

LT Dean

So the military along with the Iraqi government recognize that these inflated numbers are indeed a problem.  The AP gets information from a unreliable source that there is close to 50 bullet riddled bodies found dumped in Baghdad but in reality only 21 were. 

21 is still a large number and deserving of a report by the AP but why not print that?  Why not add a paragraph that says the military and Iraqi government dispute the figure given and then print their number also?

I tell you why.  It’s because 48 sounds much worse then 21.  This gives their bias a chance to get in print.  They believe in their hearts that Iraq is in a civil war, that it’s a disaster, and nothing will change that unless we cut and run.  As they did during Vietnam they will print unsubstantiated rumors as fact so long as it provides the means to their goal.  A total retreat and a huge Bush failure.

As careful followers of the Iraq story know well, various militias have been accused of operating within the Interior Ministry, which controls the police and has long worked to suppress news of death-squad activity in its ranks. (This is the same ministry that questioned Capt. Hussein’s existence and last week announced plans to take legal action against journalists who report news that creates the impression that security in Iraq is bad, “when the facts are totally different.”)

Oh geez, here we go.  More of the big bad Government excuse.  I have to quote Allah from Hot Air on this one:

She’s all but accusing the MOI spokesman who challenged them of being a Sadrist tool, which I guess means we’re unwittingly doing the bidding of the Mahdi Army by extension. The AP’s been accused of doing the bidding of terrorists itself, of course, and in case not so unwittingly. So, touche.

If you really believe that the Iraqi government is the tool of Sadr then please just produce Jamil Hussein.  Produce him and prove to the world that we are all a bunch of douchbags who know nothing about how hard it is for those AP reporters in the Green zone.

Alas, it’s been two weeks now and no evidence that he even exists.

It’s awfully easy to take pot shots from the safety of a computer keyboard thousands of miles from the chaos of Baghdad.

Her typical line.  She used it during the Green Helmet fiasco and she uses it here. 

How dare we question them…..

In a court of law you would have lost already Ms. Carroll, and lost big time.  In the court of public opinion I can only hope that you continue to lose credibility until you decide to report the news, instead of make it up.

Meanwhile Confederate Yankee is calling out the liberal bloggers for ignoring this story.  Surprised they would ignore this?   Didn’t think so.

You would think that the possibility of such widespread fraud would bring forth all bloggers hoping to call into question what appears to be a terminally flawed methodology of news gathering. Instead, the cry for the Associated Press to produce Jamil Hussein, to examine their stringer-based reporting methods, and launch an impartial investigation into how things could have gone so horribly wrong, has been almost exclusively an endeavor from the center-right blogosphere and conservative-leaning media outlets.

Surely, I thought, not just conservatives desire facts and accuracy in the reporting from the world’s largest media organization. These stories, if inaccurate, impact all of us, regardless of political persuasion.

Alas, he thought wrong.  They have totally ignored this story.  Oh, a few have railed against us stirring the pot because you know the AP is right.  Iraq is bad, they say.  How could you really believe otherwise….I mean the news tells us so.


PS –

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Curt I gotta tell ya this is one of those situations where someone is digging them a hole it’s gonna be hard to get out of and it ain’t you.

It is almost to the point that even if they were able to produce the Jamile it would not matter.

The inane responses plus the massive changes to the original story without so much as an official retraction are telling.

This whole thing is turning into a slow motion train wreck of major proportions.

The assumptive charge that you are somehow not credible to fact check their work because you are not there and outside the green zone is just a bunch of bull.

They are there, they are what we are supposed to rely on if they want to have any heft.

You are a milblogger, not an international press organization with all sorts of impact.

To indirectly attack you because of their shortcomings which seem to be coming out of this is a self destructive game of Russian roulette.

Even worse it seems to be a part of a larger pattern. That is why this one particular source becomes more minimized as the days go on.

When the issue of disinformation gets so bad that an entity of government in a newly emerging country has to basically say we are gonna call “bullshit” on this then it is a provenly risible issue, or at least sure brings it into question.

Also amazingly this is at least a couple of steps up the ladder of a blogger critic.

Their latest response when read in it’s entirety raises more questions than it answers.

Not a good way to solve a problem.

“It’s awfully easy to take pot shots from the safety of a computer keyboard thousands of miles from the chaos of Baghdad.”

What a peeon she is. I’ve been to Iraq, as have thousands of others, many of whom are bloggers. She needs to get the hell over herself. Next, she’ll reuter some photos of the alleged police officer and call it fact. Self-important reporters are about as useful as the U.N.


Don’t cut yourself too short. I think you are one pretty smart dude!!! Keep up the good work buddy.


Consider my signature a manual trackback (can’t seem to trackback to your site right now). Post entitled AP Pro Journalist Cheat Sheet.

Keep up the great work.


I’ve been following this AP distortions story since you broke it.

Trackback not working but thankyou for all the good work you’re doing on this.

Looking forward to meeting Jamal soon.


Excellent, Curt. Sorry I was out and about and just now got time to read it. I added a teaser and link to Who Is In Denial? (Updated — al-AP Counterattacks)