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What’s so funny about going to Iraq?Plus: More questions for AP

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By Michelle Malkin  •  December 15, 2006 02:13 PM

***10/16 update…Marc Danziger at Armed Liberal claims there may be a “Jamail Hussein in the Yarmouk police station in Baghdad”…See-Dubya is skeptical…I have contacted CENTCOM for comment…stay tuned…***

Eason Jordan has further comment on his invitation and my acceptance:

Some of you have asked what’s up with IraqSlogger’s invitation to send Michelle Malkin to Iraq. It was a serious invitation, she accepted it, she asked if I’d also pay for her to take along Curt of the Flopping Aces blog, I said yes, and now we’re working to arrange the trip. This is an enormously complicated journey to arrange, with safety and security being paramount concerns. This is serious stuff, and I’m taking the conversation with Michelle offline until we have a meaningful advance in the story to share with you.

There are people on both sides of the blogosphere who think this is some kind of joke. Others are using it as yet another opportunity to hurl slime, hate, and stupidity. You want to see me shot in the face or dead. Ha, ha, ha.

I know that neither Curt nor my co-workers nor I–nor our families–is taking this lightly. There’s nothing funny about this undertaking. When I have more I can tell you, I’ll let you know.

In the meantime, you’ll recall that two days ago, I noted Eric Boehlert’s blogger-bashing screed about the AP six burning Sunnis/Jamil Hussein controversy, which was posted on left-wing Media Matters.

Yesterday, there was a very compelling post on Media Matters taking Boehlert to task. (Hat tip: See-dubya) The author is Robert Bateman, the war historian whose op-ed on his experience with the AP attack machine I linked last week. Here’s what he has to say (excerpt is lengthy, but must-read):

Eric B is wrong, in my opinion, because the controversy involved in this story of AP reporting is not, after all, a story about the political “Right” (and Military) versus “Left”, but in reality a simple one of sourcing. In the original AP story, remember, FOUR mosques were attacked, and firebombed and/or blown up, and six, or perhaps twelve, Sunni worshippers burned to death.

Then some right-wing bloggers noted that the main source, the often-quoted “Captain Jamil Hussein,” was only quoted when Sunnis were killed. Folks, that just doesn’t make sense. It was at that point that the AP went on the attack. They re-reported, and in their follow-on story, only one mosque was burned, but then the AP rebuts with, “… allegations were checked with the AP reporter, who had been in routine contact for more than two years with Hussein, in some cases sitting in his office in the Yarmouk police station in west Baghdad. Hussein wore a police uniform during the face-to-face meetings.” They also said they had new (unnamed) sources, and provided specifics like the “fact” that it was a 1.3 gallon container of kerosene used to immolate the six men.

Now, setting aside the fact that 1.3 gallons would only give about two pints per man. Setting aside also the fact that the AP changed the story from the first version to the second, (where there were four mosques burned and/or blown up in the first version, in the second it is only one, where as many as twelve were killed by burning in the first version, in the second it is only six). Ignore the fact that the Sunnis themselves do not seem to be focusing on this story. And finally, skip over the fact that in the past some American journalism outlets, and particularly their overseas bureaus in a war zone, have in fact harbored real, live, spies for the enemy. (That happened to Time in Vietnam, when they hired a North Vietnamese intelligence officer as a stringer in Saigon.) Forget all of that for a second, and still some facts of geography threw me off as being inaccurate.

The AP, I should note, in their counterattack against those who questioned their story and sources, said, “It’s awfully easy to take pot shots from the safety of a computer keyboard thousands of miles from the chaos of Baghdad.” The AP executive who said that did so from New York City, but ya know what? Unlike that AP editor, I know something about Baghdad. Having lived in Iraq for a year (returning this past February, if you all recall), and knowing Baghdad well, one additional thing that has blown my mind about this, and the silence from the majority of the media (except E&P, which is covering the story well), is a simple element of geography.

The AP cites their source as being an officer in the Yarmouk district of Baghdad. Fine. Most people in the U.S. and the world don’t know Baghdad’s geography. But the question that hit me is “why is somebody in Yarmouk the main quoted source (originally) for a story about events in Hurriyah?”

Yarmouk is a neighborhood on the north side of what many people know as “Route Irish.” Between Yarmouk and Hurriyah neighborhood are the districts of Al Andalous and Al Mansoor (parallel w/ each other), above that is Al Mutanabbi, and above that is Al Urubah … before you get to Hurriyah. It’s more than 3 miles away. Now for country folk like me, 3 miles isn’t but spitting distance. But in a city of 7 million, like NYC or Baghdad, 3 miles is a huge distance.

In other words, in going to their “normal” source for this story, the AP went to the equivalent of a Brooklyn local police precinct for a story that occurred in northern Yonkers! Hello? What would a cop in Brooklyn know about a crime in Yonkers? That’s what doesn’t make sense to me. (And why didn’t the AP reveal, until challenged, that this source was not from the district where the events allegedly occurred, or even from a neighboring district, but is from a moderately distant part of this 7-million-person city?)

Read the whole thing.

If some of Bateman’s questions sound familiar, it’s because you read them first at Flopping Aces (via Uncommon Misconceptions)–back on November 29th.

Dan Riehl is also pulling up maps and raises more questions about the hospital morgue.

It is encouraging to see the AP matter being taken seriously by a few on the Left. It’s ridiculous the AP has let it fester. It’s even more ridiculous that the rest of their MSM colleagues have let them skate this long.

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Categories: Bilal Hussein, Eason Jordan, Fauxtography, Iraq, Jamil Hussein

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