***scroll for updates…NYTimes blogger Tom Zeller Jr weighs in…plus: bloggers note the significance of the capture of Mazer Al-Jubouri, aka the Baghdad Sniper, and his group…103pm Eastern…Curt has posted the AP’s non-response response…802pm Eastern update on the source list…see below…***
I’ve been following up with CENTCOM on the Associated Press/sketchy sources brouhaha. Just heard this morning from Michael B. Dean, Lieutenant, U.S. Navy MNC-I Joint Operations Center, Public Affairs Officer:
From CPATT PAO:
BG Abdul-Kareem, the Ministry of Interior Spokesman, went on the record today stating that Capt. Jamil Hussein is not a police officer. He explained the coordinations among MOI, the Ministry of Health and the Ministry of Defense in attempting to track down these bodies and their joint conclusion was that this was unsubstantiated rumor.
He went on to name several other false sources that have been used recently and appealed to the media to document their news before reporting. He went into some detail about the impact of the press carrying propaganda for the enemies of Iraq and thanked “the friends” who have brought this to their attention.
AP did attend the press conference.
I asked for more details, and Lt. Dean provided a summary and the first half of the press conference transcript. Some other interesting info here in addition to the false sources comments:
Ministry of Interior
Weekly Press Conference
Thursday, November 30, 2006
By Brig. Gen. Abdul Kareem Khalaf Al-Kenani
Ministry of Interior spokesman
Press conference synopsis:
1. Media, especially satellite news channels, must adhere to
a. MOI is monitoring coverage, and will insist on corrections to
b. Unnamed sources should not be used. Two recently named sources
do not work for MOI. Contact MOI PAO for official information.
c. Rumors are rampant, and media should be careful to check with
official sources about information to avoid spreading false rumors.
2. MOI succeeded in a number of operations against terrorists in
a. The Baghdad Sniper was apprehended, and information gained from
him led to the arrest of 30 others in his organization.
b. Two unauthorized “courts” that had issued death fatwas were
c. A kidnapping cell, including one that raped a young girl, was
This press conference will cover MOI operations from Nov. 23 to 29, 2006.
Before we start the weekly briefing, I have some points to highlight and to remind the brothers that work in the media, especially the Satellite television Channels. We meant by this note to stress the ministry of interior’s intention that we believe in free press and truthful press, in order not to confuse what the free press presents and the misleading media show, where the latter’s intention is to make the situation in Iraq worse than what it is.
The press release issued by the ministry of interior has three main points: First, a warning to the satellite TV. Channels continue broadcasting false news, and based on that we have formed a special observation room to monitor these TV stations; the purpose of this unit is to determine the fabricated and false news that hurts and gives the Iraqis a wrong picture that the security situation is very bad, when the facts are totally different.
After the monitoring process, we will contact those TV stations by presenting them with the mistakes and errors they committed by broadcasting such false news, hoping they will correct these false reports on their main news programs. But if they do not change those lying, false stories, then we will seek legal action against them.
For example, we have some of the respected news outlets that deal with news fast and have a relation with many TV channels and the media in general, who distributed a story quoting a person called Jamil Hussein. Afterward, we searched our sources in our staff for anyone by this name– maybe he wore an MOI uniform and gave a different name to the reporter for money. And the second name used is Lt. Maythem.
However, all of you know that the ministry of interior has a large public affairs office and its official spokesman, and we are ready to answer any questions you may have. Therefore, you should contact MOI PAO for all your needs to get real, true news. Based on that, we strongly deny any relation with those two names. In order to serve you better and strengthen the relationship with MOI, do not take statements that have no meaning and do not represent any official. We would like this note to be helpful to you and any statement made by those persons to be ignored.
The second subject is rumors. The ministry received in a week more than 12 cases of claims, one stating 50 killed were there, 200 kidnapped here, 30 corpses found there etc. And when we dispatched our forces and investigators to the locations, we found nothing.
On this note, I would like to thank some of the brothers in the media who are cautious and take the extra step to make sure the news he gets is correct or not, by contacting the ministry to verify any news through us that they hear or receive. Not only (do we reply), but we also give them more detail than they expected, and we hope others will follow suit. Also, we ask our people, please do not take any news or give it credibility, except from a well-known source with a name and an address that is part of the security ministries, etc., such as a minister or police station commander. Or if it is from the MOD or MOI, the name of the officer, his rank, his unit, etc. It is not enough to say “a source from the ministry of interior.”
Doing otherwise, you will end up helping the spread of the rumors and make them reality, even thought it was a false rumor. This rumor business — if a large issue, it will take a long time to cover it, but the purpose of the rumors is to disrupt life and make the security apparatus busy with other things than its main tasks. We will end up following rumors instead of hunting terrorists and criminals.
The third subject is, this week the strikes we made against the al-Qaeda terrorist organization in Baghdad were many and very strong in Baghdad. Before my arrival to this press conference, I was informed that one of the three who were just captured or detained is Mazer Al-Jubouri, aka the Baghdad Sniper, and his group. He admitted many things that are very important and very dangerous and our forces used this information about his network and conducted raids in the past 24 hours and detained 30 terrorists.
Those terrorists executed several explosions in Palestine and Beirut streets, and the New Baghdad area. He also admitted that their base is in Diyala province, which supplied them with money, weapons and explosives. They are now under investigation and we think this cell or network has been dismantled.
This week also, we dismantled what are called “courts” in northern and southern Baghdad, and detained the two persons who issued fatwas to kill the people. Our force dismantled what is called the Omar network, this criminal network that used to exercise its criminal activities in southern Baghdad. And they admitted many things about other terrorist networks and our forces are pursuing them now, as well as other networks for kidnapping.
One of them, we regret, kidnapped a girl and used narcotics on her and raped this little innocent young girl. We captured those criminals and the little girl is receiving medical attention. This is not Iraqis’ culture. Just look how far down in debasement they have traveled. With regret, I told you that, because MOI activity does not hold in the media the position it deserves, and also to show the great sacrifice by MOI this week.
Curt at Flopping Aces, who got the ball rolling, noted last night:
[T]he AP could solve all of this with one fell swoop by producing Capt. Hussein at the MoI during the press conference with his bonafides. I have a feeling that won[‘]t be happening tho.
Sharon Tosi Moore, an officer in the United States Army Reserves currently serving in Iraq, writes at The American Thinker:
Sunni “eyewitnesses” confidently denounced the Shiite-dominated government for their inaction. There were bold claims that the Iraqi Army stood by and did nothing as this horrifying crime happened. People around the world braced themselves for the spectacular reprisals that would surely come from the Sunni. The press practically salivated at the bloodshed (and glorious headlines) that would be forthcoming.
A winning situation all around.
Except, well, except for the tiny little detail that the incident most likely never happened. A week has gone by and no charred bodies were produced. No dramatic funeral parades, with all the attendant wailing and gnashing of teeth, occurred. Not one photo. No grand reprisals. Not even any speeches (and it is hard to imagine Iraqi religious leaders miss an opportunity to make speeches). Just a few remarks from the Iraqi government, largely ignored by the U.S. press, that all reports showed that that particular district had been quiet, and pleading the Iraqi people for calm.
No one thought to question this unusual divergence from normal protocol.
The gullible press swallowed the initial claims whole. Of the major news sources, only TIME Magazine used the word “reportedly” in their headline. Besides, there are always new and dramatic stories of gore and bloodshed in Iraq and no one has the time to check their sources carefully or to go back and correct erroneous reports.
Scott Johnson at Power Line and reader Bill Maron point to a closer look at AP International Editor John Daniszewski.
The problem of reckless dependence on foreign stringers is not just relegated to AP. Or Reuters. It’s everywhere, as Neil Munro documented earlier this spring even before the fauxtography scandal erupted.
Patterico has lifted the lid on a related controversy over at the Los Angeles Times involving a disputed Ramadi airstrike that deserves more attention than it’s getting. We spotlighted the story today at Vent.
Check out the show and links.
Tom Zeller Jr. at the New York Times blogs the latest developments and is still left wondering:
The one thing that remains unclear, though, is this: The Associated Press said in its story yesterday that Mr. Hussein “has been a regular source of police information for two years and had been visited by the AP reporter in his office at the police station on several occasions.” The military, meanwhile, seems to suggest that Mr. Hussein is not a police officer, nor a civil servant in the employ of any Iraqi agency.
So who IS Mr. Hussein?
Well, isn’t there a NYTimes reporter in Iraq who can find out?
Allah notes this from Zeller’s blog post and comments:
Author Tom Zeller notes that the Times itself covered the “burned alive” incident this way:
In the evening, a resident named Imad al-Hashemi said in a telephone interview on Al Jazeera, the Arab news network, that gunmen had doused some people with gasoline and set them on fire. Other residents contacted by telephone denied this.
Emphasis mine. I hadn’t heard that before.
He’s also suspicious about how/why an e-mail sent by Centcom to the AP made it so quickly onto conservative blogs. Er, because Centcom shared it with Flopping Aces after he made an inquiry about Jamil Hussein? Surely America’s one-stop shopping center for leaks isn’t tut-tutting at us over this, is it?
Surely, Zeller seems to be.
Patterico has “third-way” musings about Jamil Hussein.
Dan Riehl has been digging into the AP’s witness claims that the burned-alive Sunnis were members of the al-Mashadani clan from Hurriya.
Maybe the NYTimes will follow, eh, Mr. Zeller?
I mentioned that the non-AP-related info from the press conference struck me as interesting. Ever-alert and illuminating Rusty Shackleford underlines the significance of the information on the captured sniper. Go read.
Matt at Blackfive adds: “Will CNN report that Juba the Baghdad Sniper (a group or cell of snipers – Juba is probably not a real person) is toast?”
8pm Eastern update. Allah has a question about the MOI spokesman. I asked MNF-I about Brig. Gen. Abdul Kareem Khalaf Al-Kenani last night and meant to post the response this morning. Here’s the response from Lt. Dean:
We have verified him as legitimate. He is the official Minister of Interior spokesman through the CPATT. The list that includes him was a working list of spokespeople we are in the process of trying to verify that hadn’t been updated.
Michael B. Dean
Lieutenant, U.S. Navy
MNC-I Joint Operations Center
Public Affairs Officer
Burning Sunnis, burning mosques, burning questions
Burning Six update: The AP responds (to USA Today); update: and now, a new AP account
Real news vs. fake news in Iraq
The media fog of war
The Associated (with terrorists) Press strikes again
Bilal Hussein’s congresswoman
AP runs to the Washington Post
AP stands for Advocacy Press
AP vs. the “so-called blogosphere”
Associated Press and the Bilal Hussein case
Where is Bilal Hussein?
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Categories: Bilal Hussein