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Tracing “Jamil Hussein’s” footstepsand ignoring anti-blog hatred

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By Michelle Malkin  •  December 20, 2006 03:17 PM

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After receiving initial reports from a Civilian Police Advisory Training Team (CPATT) source two days ago and investigating further, here’s what I can tell you:

According to two CPATT officials–one in the U.S, one in Iraq–there is no one named “Jamil Hussein” working now or ever at either at the Yarmouk or al Khadra police stations. That is what they have said all along and nothing has changed.

The Baghdad-based CPATT officer says there is no “Sgt. Jamil Hussein” at Yarmouk, which contradicts what Marc Danziger’s contacts found. I have another military source on the ground who works with the Iraqi Army (separate and apart from the CPATT sources) and is checking into whether anyone named “Jamil Hussein” has ever worked at Yarmouk.

There is only one police officer whose first name is “Jamil” currently working at the Khadra station, according to my CPATT sources.

His name is Jamil Ghdaab Gulaim (alternate spelling per CPATT is “Ghulaim.”) Previously, Jamil Ghdaab Gulaim worked at a precinct in Yarmouk, according to the CPATT sources. Curt at Flopping Aces has received the same info.

Now, go back and look at the full name and location information the Associated Press cited in its statement on the matter:

[T]hat captain has long been know to the AP reporters and has had a record of reliability and truthfulness. He has been based at the police station at Yarmouk, and more recently at al-Khadra, another Baghdad district, and has been interviewed by the AP several times at his office and by telephone. His full name is Jamil Gholaiem Hussein.

Let’s review: AP’s source, supposedly named “Jamil Gholaiem Hussein,” used to work at Yarmouk but now works at al Khadra. CPATT says the one person named “Jamil” now at al Khadra — Jamil Ghdaab Gulaim — also used to work at Yarmouk. His rank is the same as that of AP’s alleged source. His last name is almost identical to the middle name of AP’s alleged source. (FYI: In Arabic, the middle name is one’s father’s name; the last name is one’s grandfather’s.)

According to the CPATT officers, Captain Jamil Ghdaab Gulaim “denies ever speaking to the AP or any other media.” I retracted information to the contrary two days ago based on a single CPATT source who said he had erroneously stated that Gulaim had admitted being the source.

To repeat: Both CPATT sources in the U.S. and Iraq have confirmed that Jamil Ghdaab Gulaim denies speaking to the AP.

That leaves a couple of unanswered questions:

1. Is Jamil Ghdaab Gulaim the real name of AP’s oft-cited source?

2. If not, where is “Captain Jamil Hussein” currently working?If he is a Baghdad police officer, as AP asserts, why hasn’t anyone–not CPATT, not MOI, not Marc Danzinger’s sources–been able to locate him?

I’ll be sending these questions to AP executive editor Kathleen Carroll.

She might also want to take a look at Bob Owens’ thorough post exploring the ethics of using undisclosed pseudonyms for sources. He surveyed journalists and media mavens from all parts of the ideological spectrum with these three questions:

If it is determined that a reporter has been using named source in an on-going series of stories, and that name turns out to be a pseudonym, under what circumstances would this be considered unethical behavior, and how serious a breach of ethics would this be?

Would it be compounded if the reporter insisted upon the veracity of the pseudonym?

What responsibility does the reporter bear in verifying the identity of his source?

Ms. Carroll might want to think about her answers.

See-Dubya saves her the trouble and cites AP policy:

Nothing in our news report – words, photos, graphics, sound or video – may be fabricated. We don’t use pseudonyms, composite characters or fictional names, ages, places or dates.

AP’s defenders are flummoxed about why this “one story” matters so much in the larger context of violence in Iraq.

See-Dubya at Junkyard Blog has compiled a very valuable map of the wide variety of Baghdad locations from which “Captain Jamil Hussein” had reported incidents of violence to the AP. I asked him to add a few other significant markers and he sent a revised map along:

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This is not just one story. It is at least 61. And all of these. And this big one. It is not about conservative bloggers ignoring the bona fide, grim realities on the ground. It is about the credibility, veracity, trustworthiness, and accountability of the world’s “essential global news network”–more important than ever in a time of war.

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Eason Jordan is still looking, but has nothing new to report:

Several IraqSlogger colleagues in Baghdad are tracking leads in an effort to locate Jamil Hussein.

IraqSlogger’s two biggest concerns: determining the ground truth and not losing lives in the process.

The Baghdad neighborhood where the disputed episode occurred, Hurriya, is a dangerous Shia area, while the neighborhoods where Captain Jamil Hussein is supposedly based (Yarmouk and/or Khadraa) are volatile Sunni-dominated Sunni-Shia mixed areas.

Iraqi police are themselves the frequent target of terrorist and insurgent attacks — thousands have been killed — and police stations are difficult-to-approach fortresses. Iraqi police have understandable anxieties and suspicions when outsiders start poking around in an effort to track down a certain police officer. Also worrisome: Some Iraqi police are alleged to be members of sectarian death squads. Bottom line: This effort to find Jamil Hussein is dangerous for all involved on the ground.

Nevertheless, since “Jamil Hussein” has been quoted in dozens of AP stories, he’d seemingly not be impossible to track down in person.

We’ll get back to you with ground truth when we determine it.

How about you, Tom Zeller? Brian Montopoli? Anything new to report?

***

Blog-bashers on both sides will snidely look down their noses at these questions as “second-order distractions” by a “mob” of “imbeciles”. Their thin-skinned defensiveness speaks for itself. And for those of you surprised by the vehemence of the anti-blog attitude of the Wall Street Journal, don’t be. With the exception of Peggy Noonan, blog hatred seems to be a company virus (see here and here).

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Update: Two must-reads–Allah and See-Dubya eviscerate Eric Boehlert’s warped narrative.

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

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