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Big Lizards: Jamil Hussein – What’s In a Name?

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By mmguestblogger  •  January 9, 2007 05:43 PM

This post is by Dafydd of Big Lizards, not by our dearest Michelle. So there.

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According to Curt at Flopping Aces, one reason that the Iraqi Ministry of the Interior (MOI) — boss of the National Police — and Multinational Force Iraq (MNFI) were unable to locate Police Captain Jamil Hussein at the Khadra police station may have been… that there is no Police Captain Jamil Hussein at the Khadra police station.

Curt has a source (Bill Costlow) at the Civilian Police Assistance Training Team (CPATT, Americans working in Iraq to train Iraqis in basic police procedures) who says that it turns out that the so-called (literally) “Jamil Hussein” touted by AP as their source, the source whose full name AP now claims to be Jamil Gholaiem Hussein — is in fact actually named Jamil Ghdaab Gulaim. No “Hussein” in his name anywhere.

But guess what Bill just confirmed? Brig. Abdul-Karim Khalaf never acknowledged that there was a Capt. Jamil Hussein assigned to the Khadra station, he confirmed to the AP that there was a Capt. Jamil Ghdaab Gulaim assigned there. Apparently he is the source for the AP even though he still, to this day (according to Bill Costlow), denies being the source.

Bear in mind, this is by way of a heads-up; there is no independent confirmation of what Costlow told Curt. But on the other hand, as I noted over on Big Lizards, we also have not seen anybody but AP claim that Brig. Abdul-Karim Khalaf, spokesman for the MOI, had admitted that “Jamil Hussein” worked at that station after all:

Since we now know that at least one Jamil exists in a disclosed location, it should be child’s play for Reuters, the Times, the Times, the Post, CNN, or some other newspaper or television network to hound the guy into an interview with them: have they? For that matter, has anybody — other than AP — even interviewed Brigadier Khalaf and asked him about Jamil Hussein?

So we have the unsupported word of AP (which did not publish a transcript of the alleged admission) vs. the unsupported word of a blogger quoting a member of CPATT. Were I a betting man (oh wait, I am), I’d have to give the odds to Flopping Aces in this one. Especially insofar as, to this date, I don’t believe AP has even acknowledged that their original story (four mosques “burned,” 24 Sunnis slain) was completely wrong. They simply changed it quietly, in the dead of night, without noting the changes… which does not inspire confidence in their confident assertions today.

If true (if!), it would be a pretty darned good explanation of why MOI and MNFI were unable to find Jamil Hussein: because AP lied about his name, giving him a pseudonym then daring anyone to find him.

Here, it’s just about like this: “Our source is Fester Bestertester, who works at the K-Mart on Maple St.”

“There is no Fester Bestertester at the K-Mart on Maple Street.”

“Aha, the regional manager of K-Mart just admitted that he has a Fester Karbunkle Bestertester working at the K-Mart on Maple! Don’t you feel like an idiot now? Were you lying when you said Fester Bestertester doesn’t exist, or were you just stupid and incompetent?”

“Actually, the regional manager of K-Mart said that we have a Fester Aloysius Karbunkle working there, and that was only after you added the name Karbunkle. He doesn’t have the name Bestertester. Nobody named Fester Bestertester works there.”

“See? We told you all along our source was Fester Bestertester working at K-Mart on Maple Street!”

If this is confirmed — and so far, it’s just according to Curt’s CPATT source — but if it’s confirmed that “Police Captain Jamil Hussein” does not, in fact, exist, and that AP was using a false name without bothering to mention it… then regardless of the propriety of that maneuver (I have no idea what journalistic “ethics” permit), one has to wonder about all the AP crowing in this story:

The Interior Ministry acknowledged Thursday that an Iraqi police officer whose existence had been denied by the Iraqis and the U.S. military is in fact an active member of the force, and said he now faces arrest for speaking to the media.

Ministry spokesman Brig. Abdul-Karim Khalaf, who had previously denied there was any such police employee as Capt. Jamil Hussein, said in an interview that Hussein is an officer assigned to the Khadra police station, as had been reported by The Associated Press….

The U.S. military and the Iraqi Interior Ministry raised the doubts about Hussein in questioning the veracity of the AP’s initial reporting on the incident, and the Iraqi ministry suggested that many news organization were giving a distorted, exaggerated picture of the conflict in Iraq. Some Internet bloggers spread and amplified these doubts, accusing the AP of having made up Hussein’s identity in order to disseminate false news about the war.

Khalaf offered no explanation Thursday for why the ministry had initially denied Hussein’s existence, other than to state that its first search of records failed to turn up his full name. He also declined to say how long the ministry had known of its error and why it had made no attempt in the past six weeks to correct the public record.

I can think of one.

(Comments on this post over here.)

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