Tom Curley: Head of the A(wt)P
What do you do when you are a global news organization under fire for suppressing five-month-old news of the capture of one of your employees by American troops in a Ramadi apartment with an alleged al Qaeda leader and a weapons cache?
You run to a sympathetic news organization to help you whitewash the story and smear the U.S. military. Naturally.
On Saturday, the Washington Post op-ed page published a shameless CYA screed by Associated (with terrorists) Press president and chief executive Tom Curley on the Bilal Hussein case. The inanity begins with the very first paragraph of the piece titled “In Iraq, a Journalist in Limbo:”
Bilal Hussein, an Iraqi photographer who helped the Associated Press win a Pulitzer Prize last year, is now in his sixth month in a U.S. Army prison in Iraq. He doesn’t understand why he’s there, and neither do his AP colleagues.
Oh, sweet merciful crap.
Curley and his A(wt)P colleagues just can’t understand why the military would want to hold a security detainee who was discovered by American troops in a Ramadi apartment with an alleged al Qaeda leader and a weapons cache, and who tested positive for explosives. Not that it will get through their very thick skulls, but let’s repeat:
The military said Hussein was captured with two insurgents, including Hamid Hamad Motib, an alleged leader of al-Qaida in Iraq. “He has close relationships with persons known to be responsible for kidnappings, smuggling, improvised explosive device (IED) attacks and other attacks on coalition forces,” according to a May 7 e-mail from U.S. Army Maj. Gen. Jack Gardner, who oversees all coalition detainees in Iraq.
“The information available establishes that he has relationships with insurgents and is afforded access to insurgent activities outside the normal scope afforded to journalists conducting legitimate activities,” Gardner wrote to AP International Editor John Daniszewski…
…The military said bomb-making materials were found in the apartment where Hussein was captured but it never detailed what those materials were. The military said he tested positive for traces of explosives.
Of course, if you read only Curley’s piece and the AP brief reprinted in the Washington Post on Sept. 18, you would never know those details. Those details appeared in AP reporter Robert Tanner’s piece on Sept. 17, five months after this blog broke news of Bilal Hussein’s detention on April 12. But the Washington Post has never bothered to report those details in its print edition. Nor has it questioned why the AP sat on the news. Not on its op-ed pages. Not in its news pages.
Let’s move to Curley’s second and third paragraphs, which are even more dishonest and misleading than the first:
After more than five months of trying to bring Bilal’s case into the daylight, AP is now convinced the Army doesn’t care whether Bilal is or isn’t an insurgent. The Army doesn’t have to care. Bilal is off the street, and the military says it doesn’t consider itself accountable to any judicial authority that could question his guilt.
But Bilal’s incarceration delivers a further bonus. He is no longer free to circulate in his native Fallujah or in Ramadi, taking photographs that coalition commanders would prefer not to see published.
“After more than five months of trying to bring Bilal’s case into the daylight…”
Unadulterated bull. Trying to bring his case to daylight where exactly? AP ignored several of my requests for information on Bilal Hussein’s status over the past five months. Between April 12 and Sept. 17, AP reported on Hussein’s case zero times. Zero.
“…AP is now convinced the Army doesn’t care whether Bilal is or isn’t an insurgent. The Army doesn’t have to care…He is no longer free to circulate in his native Fallujah or in Ramadi, taking photographs that coalition commanders would prefer not to see published.”
Translation: Those heartless, dastardly jack-booted thugs have callously tossed Hussein in the klink for no reason because they don’t like his pictures.
Let me repeat: According to the US military, Hussein was captured by American troops in a Ramadi apartment with an alleged al Qaeda leader and a weapons cache, and tested positive for explosives.
More Curley if you can stand it:
U.S. journalists are severely limited in their ability to move safely, make themselves understood and develop sources in such areas. AP has learned to overcome those limitations, using techniques honed over decades of covering sectarian confrontation and bloodshed in the Middle East.
“Techniques” such as turning a blind eye to widespread concern about the use of local stringers overseas? Or perhaps finely honed news-suppression techniques like those perfected by CNN during the Saddam regime?
Speaking of Eason Jordan’s CNN, is Curley trying to pull an Eason in this incendiary paragraph:
Both official and unofficial parties on every side of a conflict try to discredit or silence news they don’t like. That is certainly the case in Iraq, where journalists are routinely harassed, defamed, beaten and kidnapped. At last count, 80 had been killed.
Yes, you read that right. He is absolutely suggesting that our troops are retaliating against journalists whose work they don’t like. Read the whole piece again and look at the context.
And his organization calls my reporting “incendiary?”
Will anyone at the Washington Post clue its readers into the real controversy over AP and Bilal Hussein? Anyone?blog comments powered by Disqus
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Categories: Bilal Hussein