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January 05, 2007
Writing about web page http://www.cbsnews.com/stories/2007/01/04/ap/world/mainD8MENNJ80.shtml
For those of you who don’t know, The integrity of the Associated Press has been under sustained attack from the Right-wing “Blogosphere” (spearheaded by Michelle Malkin) over the identity of one of its sources since the publication of this report (ABC presenting the AP news report) on the 24/11/2006.
What was specifically called into question was the existence of primary source Captain Jamil Hussein, who has, apparently, been a source for more than sixty AP pieces. The Right-wing blogosphere not only called into question his identity, but the veracity of his claims concerning the brutal murder of six sunnis outside a Baghdad mosque whilst Iraqi soldiers watched:
BAGHDAD, Iraq Nov 24, 2006 (AP)— Shiite militiamen doused six Sunni Arabs with kerosene and burned them alive as Iraqi soldiers stood by
The Mahdi Army militiamen, armed with machines guns and rocket-propelled grenades, swept through Hurriyah neighborhood near an Iraqi army post, burning four mosques and several homes, and attacking worshippers as they left Friday services, said police Capt. Jamil Hussein. [my emphasis]
The Iraqi interior Ministry claimed that they could not find record of Jamil Hussein’s existance (which they are now saying was a mistake) and the US military declined to verify the original story.
The AP later went on to defend its reporting and stick by its report on the burning of the Iraqis outside the mosque.
We have sent journalists to the neighborhood three different times to talk with people there about what happened. *And those residents have repeatedly told us, in some detail, that Shiite militiamen dragged six Sunni worshippers from a mosque, drenched them with kerosene and burned them alive.
No one else has said they have actually gone to the neighborhood. Particularly not the individuals who have criticized our journalism with such barbed certitude.
This of course was not good enough for the right-wing bloggers who happily eat news reports straight from the hand of the army or the administration. Now (even Fox News admits that) The AP has been vindicated
This of course is not enough for the blogosphere who are now focusing on the veracity of the reported stories rather than the veracity of the source. But at least the AP has shown its worth and its continuing journalistic integrity in the face of these prolonged attacks merits our respect.
Some of you might not see why this was of any importance. Who cares about what a couple of Armchair Journalists think? Right? Well the controversy spilled over into mainstream media and forced the AP to make at least two statements in defence of both the initial piece and the existence of Jamil Hussein.
Now the police officer faces arrest for his leaking of information. Even if he is not arrested (curiously the Iraqi Interior Ministry seems to be leaving a loophole open to avoid arresting him), there is still the chance that Shi’a groups will kill him for his role in helping to publicise various Shi’a attacks. Either way it looks like the AP has lost another valuable source which means that while the AP has won a battle, it has cost them dearly