December 09, 2006

Just the Facts, Ma'am

Kathleen Carroll, the Executive Editor and Senior Vice President of the Associated Press, just can't seem to do the required legwork necessary to resolve the questions surrounding six immolations and four mosque burnings alleged in news reports by anonymous reporters working for her organization. She does, however, try her best to deflect criticism in her latest response to the emerging scandal this afternoon.

She begins:

In recent days, a handful of people have stridently criticized The Associated Press' coverage of a terrible attack on Iraqi citizens last month in Baghdad. Some of those critics question whether the incident happened at all and declare that they don't believe our reporting.

Indeed, a small number of them have whipped themselves into an indignant lather over the AP's reporting.

What concerns Carroll is that her "handful" includes Jules Crittenden of the Boston Herald, Mark Tapscott of the Washington Examiner, Tom Zeller of the New York Times, and Robert Batemen in the New York Post, and this handful is steadily getting larger by the day thanks to a diligent army of citizen-journalists.

Their assertions that the AP has been duped or worse are unfounded and just plain wrong.

No organization has done more to try to shed light on what happened Nov. 24 in the Hurriyah neighborhood of Baghdad than The Associated Press.

Well, thanks for clearing that up. I can sleep comfortably now that you've confirmed what is in your self-interest to reinforce.

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.

And yet in all of those trips to this intimate Sunni enclave, there are a few things the largest news organization in the world hasn't been able to discover... for instance, how the militiamen "burned and blew up" four mosques in the initial report, only to see that number dwindle to one mosque partially burned, without a retraction being issued. For that matter, which mosque were these six men dragged out of? Basic reporting, Editor Carroll. Eighth-grade school-paper who-what-when-where-why.

While we're on the subject of basic journalism, it would seem simple to find names for the six victims in such a tight-knit community. So why, after AP journalists went to this neighborhood three different times to investigate a story under a cloud of suspicion, has the Associated Press been unwilling or unable to provide that basic information?

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 isn't exactly the truth, Editor Carroll, and if you read your own reporting, you are well aware of that fact. An Iraqi fire company was called into the neighborhood to extinguish the one (not four) minor mosque fire. There does not seem to be any reports from the fire company concerning something as noticeable as six humans combusting in the street.

In addition, we know from your own reporting that legitimate Iraqi police and interior ministry officers dispatched to Hurriyah were unable to verify any of the claims made by AP reporters. They were able to interview the one named source, Imad al-Hasimi, at which time al-Hasimi told a different story than the one reported by the Associated Press. From what little you've given us, it seems he has retracted his story entirely.

I'm sorry that those of us thousands of miles away from the situation are having to criticize AP reporting with such "barbed certitude," but when your senior reporters five miles away don't seek answers to obvious and pressing questions, those of us further away must.

The AP has been transparent and fair since the first day of our reporting on this issue. We have not ignored the questions about our work raised by the U.S. military and later, by the Iraqi Interior Ministry. Indeed, we published those questions while also sending AP journalists back out to the scene to dig further into what happened and why others might be questioning the initial accounts.

The AP mission was to get at the facts, wherever those facts took us.

Transparent? The AP will not tell us who their reporters are (citing safety concerns, of course). We have no names for alleged witnesses for precisely the same reason. We don't know the name of the mosque from which these men were abducted. We don't seem to have the names of the dead, and contrary to initial AP reports, we don't seem to have any named employees of the Kazamiyah Hospital who will claim to have seen these bodies. Of the two named sources in the initial story, one now disavows the story originally attributed to him, and the other, primary witness seems all but certain of being a long-run, deeply embedded fraud.

And what about the things that Carroll would rather not address?

Such an example is the fact that the Sunni Association of Muslim Scholars, which would rarely miss a chance to cite an example of Shia brutality, has been curiously silent about these alleged immolations. Al Jazeera, the preeminent Arab news outlet, also did not report on this atrocity, despite how easily they could sell this story to their primary media market. For that matter, neither Reuters, nor UPI, nor any other news organization has been able to confirm the Associated Press story. AP, it seems, has an exclusive that no one else can or will substantiate, even two weeks later. If AP has the facts, they are very stingy sharing them.

What we found were more witnesses who described the attack in particular detail as well as describing the fear that runs through the neighborhood. We ran a lengthy story on those additional findings, as well as the questions, on Nov. 28.

Some of AP's critics question the existence of police Capt. Jamil Hussein, who was one (but not the only) source to tell us about the burning.

These critics cite a U.S. military officer and an Iraqi official who first said Hussein is not an authorized spokesman and later said he is not on their list of Interior Ministry employees. It's worth noting that such lists are relatively recent creations of the fledgling Iraqi government.

By contrast, Hussein is well known to AP. We first met him, in uniform, in a police station, some two years ago. We have talked with him a number of times since then and he has been a reliable source of accurate information on a variety of events in Baghdad.

No one – not a single person – raised questions about Hussein’s accuracy or his very existence in all that time. Those questions were raised only after he was quoted by name describing a terrible attack in a neighborhood that U.S. and Iraqi forces have struggled to make safe.

And now, we get to what concerns Editor Carroll most of all.

Jamil Hussein isn't just a one-off source, but an on-going, continual source for the Associated Press over the past two years, being used as a named source no fewer than 61 times in the past year. If Captain Hussein is a legitimate Iraqi police officer as Carroll insists, then inviting him to meet with his own superiors and representatives of U.S Central Command in front of Associated Press cameras would not only be uneventful for Captain Hussein, who could clear charges that he is an insurgent operative, but it would vindicate the Associated Press completely. The Associated Press can end this controversy by merely producing Captain Jamil Hussein.

And yet, we know that if the Associated Press could produce Captain Hussein to vindicate it's reporters, it would have done so by now. The fact that the Executive Editor of the Associated Press has been reduced to spending the bulk of her response attacking the messengers tells you just how dire the situation of the Associated Press in Iraq truly is.

Jamil Hussein is one false source that immediately calls into question all 61 AP stories in which he was a source. Jamil Hussein is just one of at least 14 sources that the Associated Press has claimed as Iraqi policemen, that have provided "proof" in perhaps dozens to hundreds of stories, that the Iraqi police simply have no record of.

The Associated Press is standing behind their story, perhaps because at this point, acknowledging how deeply they've been compromised is far too difficult to contemplate.

We don't need anymore bluster, accusations, or denials, Kathleen Carroll.

Simple facts will suffice.

Posted by Confederate Yankee at December 9, 2006 12:25 AM | TrackBack

I'm writing my congressman asking for an investigation into this. These bastards need to be put under oath.

Posted by: Purple Avenger at December 9, 2006 01:06 AM

I'm shocked, SHOCKED, I tell you, that the MSM would resort to making up stuff to bring down George W.

BTW, when are the Rather Awards going to be given out this year ? Has AP been nominated for a Rathie yet ?

Posted by: Actual at December 9, 2006 10:38 AM

An Iraqi fire company was called into the neighborhood to extinguish the one (not four) minor mosque fire. There does not seem to be any reports from the fire company concerning something as noticeable as six humans combusting in the street.

Also a patrol from the 6th Iraqi Army Division, who are the folks who called in the Iraqi fire company. They also failed to notice multiple burning bodies or multiple burning mosques or multiple burning homes, all of which were alleged by the AP.

Posted by: Tully at December 9, 2006 01:23 PM

No one – not a single person – raised questions about Hussein’s accuracy or his very existence in all that time.

Translation: "We got away with it for quite a while, so that proves he's legit."


Posted by: Tully at December 9, 2006 01:25 PM

Lefties love the proof by repeated assertion argument.

Posted by: Purple Avenger at December 9, 2006 02:06 PM

I can see why the AP would think they'd need to hype up the sectarian violence angle, because there just isn't that much of it going on already. If it weren't for the AP and other Western news outlets, the outside world would see that Iraq is a peaceful, harmonious society well on its way to being a Jeffersonian democracy. I mean, it's not like there are 50 or 60 tortured, bullet-riddled bodies showing up every day in Baghdad, car bombs killing 40 people at a clip or anything. They needed to invent these 6 murders to just kick it up a notch and really stick it to Bush but good.

Posted by: Arbotreeist at December 9, 2006 04:04 PM

Now THAT'S funny! It's just retro enough to be a good vaudeville routine.

1st Leftist: The media isn't lying about situation in Iraq.

2nd leftist: That's right!, but how do we know?

1st: "Because the situation is so bad, they don't NEED to lie"

2nd: "Exactly! And we know that because..."

1st: "The media tells us so!"

Posted by: cfbleachers at December 9, 2006 05:48 PM

I think it's high time we begin to color code the levels of the "Ministry of Media" alert. That way, those of us who are not into compliantly swallowing this force-fed mental kitty litter, have a way to easily and conveniently recognize the level crap that is contained in any single "story" that the World Populists, Timeshare Americans, COW's and anarchists put out through the various branches of the Ministry of Media.

I'm all for creating very inventive colors and assigning them based on wit, style, best capturing of the true nature of the BS contained in the story, etc. Mapes Magenta or Rather Red Alert, would be one way to go. Maher Mauve. NYTimes Teal, WaPost Purple. (Hollywood Hues are welcome from the movie/fantasy branch of the Ministry of Media as well). Reuters Rose. BBSepia.

I'm open for suggestions.

I suppose we should have a ranking based upon some prism and color scale. Clear, White, Red, Orange, Yellow, Green, Cyan, Blue, Violet, Brown, Black...or something. The greater the fib factor, the further up the alert scale on the color coding.

This is a work in progress, so it may take some time...but, if done properly, it could make life with leftist a little less irritating.

Posted by: cfbleachers at December 9, 2006 06:09 PM

I think the top alert color should be Liberal Dark Brown. The color of Cow manure. The more you look into it, the worse it smells. Just like typical Liberal biased media stories.

Posted by: JM at December 9, 2006 06:34 PM

I love the liberals view of the Military. We support the troops but they're all liars. Think maybe they all failed to study and get an education so the all ended up in Iraq? I think after the military wins this war the should come home and be allowed to shoot fifty dimmi's (each)of their choice. Kind of a reward for a job well done even with the dimmi traitors selling them out on a daily or hourly basis.

Posted by: Scrapiron at December 9, 2006 08:06 PM

For some of them, shooting is too good. I want to make a couple of distinctions, though. I think leftists and their Ministry of Media have been wildly successful at framing the issues. Our collective society uses their words, for almost all things related to those issues most in debate today.

Here are some things that I don't think adequately or properly describe the situation:

"Mainstream Media": I don't like to use this term, because I don't believe that the "old media" represents mainstream America or Americans. I think it represents a much narrower, smaller, more elitist and further left viewpoint than is warranted by any stretch of the imagination, when it comes to being "representative" of mainstream American thought.

I believe that the "old media" has an agenda and no longer even makes a passing effort at being objective. They push leftist ideas, support leftist goals and try to sway public opinion much further left, in sometimes subtle and increasingly more overt ways.

To call them the MSM, simply reinforces a false notion that they represent the "average" or "typical" American and I believe this is patently false. In fact, I believe they represent less than 15% of the population in terms of positions on important issues of the day. Moreover, they have become increasingly aggressive in their tactics by deriding, denigrating and dividing those who disagree with them. They have reached a point where, I believe, they had found themselves to be less and less effective (due in no small part to bloggers such as CY, Instapundit, LGF, Michelle Malkin and others, talk radio and Fox News)...and they "upped the ante". They now are willing to use "any means necessary" to get their leftist goals achieved. False documents, phony sources, hiding the truth, distortions, fake pictures, carrying the propaganda water for the enemy, giving away our military tactics and positions, ...the whole bag of horrors.

There is nothing, in my opinion, that is "mainstream" about their Code of Silence when one of their members is caught beshitting our information stream with leftist lies, distortions, propaganda, and pollute the "news" with things that simply aren't true in order to sway public opinion leftward.

They have shown not only a complete unwillingness to police themselves, but quite the contrary, a brazen refusal to even confront the issues honestly. Instead, they form a wall of silence and shield the perpetrators in a conspiracy after the fact, virtually every time.

Bernie Goldberg in his two books suggested (as have others) that there is no conspiracy. That either profit is the motive or "echo chamber ignorance" is the reason. I disagree on both counts. Profit is no motive when people are abandoning you in droves and you get MORE aggressively leftist. Echo chamber ignorance, where you believe you are "mainstream" because everyone around you is a mindless yes man has SOME merit, but it does not explain or even consider why you need to lie, distort, create fake photos, fake documents, fake sources and then when you are caught, you deny and everyone of your cronies shields you from scrutiny. Nope...that is not an echo chamber, that's a conspiracy before the fact. You are not simply deluded into believing the fraud, you are an active participant in creating the fraud.

The old media has, by any objective standard...been weighed and measured...and found wanting. They have become the Ministry of Media ...a propaganda tool for leftist dogma. And they are certainly anything but mainstream. We serve their purposes by using their name to describe themselves. And I, for one, simply refuse to play their rigged game by their rules.

Posted by: cfbleachers at December 10, 2006 11:03 AM

The second "framed issue" that I completely disagree with, is calling leftists: "liberal" or "progressive".

I believe that there ARE people in this country who are either "liberal" or "progressive", but bundling all leftists into those carefully framed terms fails to capture some very important and distinct differences.

If you look at where people stand on the "political/social issue spectrum" you will find distinct differences between a Joe Lieberman and a Michael Moore. To describe them with one word is to treat Moore with greater dignity than he deserves and to tarnish Lieberman with a stain he doesn't deserve.

I think the term "progressive" is merely a continuation on the phony theme that if you are left of center then you are "open-minded, soft-hearted, forward thinking, not old fashioned, and a thinking man's person". I can't think of a term that LESS describes the leftists at Kos Kidz and most of the rest of the blogosphere nutroots and barking moonbats.

If anything, they have proven themselves to be closed-minded, dogmatic, stuck in the 60's, mindless lemmings and parrots all marching in lockstep and reciting with Gregorian Chant droning voices in unison from the same playbook and from the same out of tune World Populist hymnal. Is there anyone here who can't immediately predict what position those people will take when a new issue of importance arises on the political/social spectrum? There is nothing unique, independent, thoughtful, or insightful about anything they say these days.

It's warmed over, 40 year old anti-establishment Socialism/populism from the 60's. It steadfastly refuses to take into account today's new issues and new potential solutions to them. We have enemies today that are not nation based, who have a religious zeal to convert and kill us as infidels...and their response is to build a campfire, make Smores and sing Peter, Paul and Mary songs with them. This is to being a "progressive" what Rosie O'Donnell is to being a runway model.

Yet, when we mindlessly accept and repeat the "framed phrases" they use to describe themselves we empower them in creating a "truth" out of a lie, by repeating it often enough.

Michael Moore isn't a liberal. He's an anarchist. He isn't soft-hearted, forward thinking, or even anti-war. He romanticizes the enemy and calls them minutemen. He does nothing but crap on America and Americans calling them stupid and ignorant.

George Soros and the MoveOn crowd are Socialist/World Populists. The kneejerk response from the leftists, is to deny their leftism when you shine a light on it. They call it "red baiting" or "McCarthyite tactics". I find this fascinating. Why deny you are a Socialist (or a Trotskyite or Leninist or Maoist etc), if that's what you believe? I'm not afraid of Socialism, I just think its repeated history of utter failure makes it rather unappetizing as a form of governance.

The Ministry of Media, the propaganda arm of the Socialist/World Populist movement in this country (including their entertainment branch in Hollywood along with the "news" branches in print and on the airwaves) have pretty much thrown off the shroud and thrown down the gauntlet. Why not let's call it exactly what it is and have a showdown. Call the question. The Socialist/World Populist crowd want to disenbowel our present form of governance and replace it with a Socialist/World Populist nanny state.

This isn't "liberalism" least not that of John F. Kennedy (although it IS of his neer do well,drunken sod, manslaughtering brother), or FDR, or Joe Lieberman.

This is the self-absorbed, "me generation", hippies of the 60's forming their own government and overthrowing this one. Not by military coup d etat, but by having infiltrated and placed a stranglehold on our information stream. College campuses, you can't get a job as a professor if you aren't a member of the Socialist/World Populist club. You can't be a news anchor at NBC, CBS, ABC, CNN, BBC, AP, Reuters... you can't be an editor of the NYTimes, Newsweek, LATimes, you can't be a top Hollywood actor or director...EVERYWHERE the Ministry of Media exists, in all their branches...the information stream bleats out the same message.

We were becoming the "boiled frogs". They didn't throw us in a pot of boiling water, they simply put us in nice, comfortable water and having been increasing the temperature one degree at a time, so we wouldn't notice them turning up the heat.

But then, something they didn't count on happened. The blogosphere, talk radio and Fox News put a turd in their punchbowl. This made them more desperate. You can see this desperation in the fury with which they react to Fox News, now vehemently they deny the solid and often spectacular "news" work of the blogosphere. And Air America as a response to talk radio....Al Franken? Nuff said.

They realized that if they were going to make their move, it had to be now. Before the response to their bastardizing the information stream REALLY became weakened. So, they upped the ante. They now brazenly lie. They doctor and dummy up documents. They photoshop photos. Stage "news" stories. Create phony "sources". The table stakes are now as high as they will ever be. Truth be damned, they are now into "by any means necessary" mode.

And every time you use one of THEIR terms to describe them, or one of their "issues" empower them.

They aren't liberal and they aren't progressive. They are leftists and they are in full battle gear for the future of your country. They want to own hearts and minds. If you use their words to describe them and key issues, you take a lie and by repeating make it a new truth.

Posted by: cfbleachers at December 10, 2006 11:50 AM

When I was a young child in the late 50's/early 60's they were just known as commies ;->

Posted by: Purple Avenger at December 10, 2006 01:24 PM

The AP mission was to get at the facts, wherever those facts took us.

Somewhe-r-r-r-re, over the rainbow...

Posted by: Cover Me, Porkins at December 10, 2006 02:17 PM

Actually, the Association of Muslim Scholars claimed 18 immolations at first and named the mosque. See, for instance,,CST-NWS-iraq25.article .

Its leader, Al-Dhari, is in hiding in Jordan from charges of inciting violence in Iraq and happened to be in Egypt at a conference when the story broke. The organization seems to work pretty closely with insurgents and surely spreads the insurgent propaganda, too. The prestige press may rely on them as "influential," but I think they have even less credibility than, unfortunately, the AP when it comes to this disgraceful lie.

Posted by: CatLady at December 10, 2006 02:23 PM

Why won't the AP just hire that stylish photoshop artist whose "smokey Beirut" photos so rapturously illustrated the AP's previous fake-but-accurate story? Surely it can't be all that difficult to find someone to drop a ball of flame over a stock photo of a sunni mosque. If Editor Carroll's cover-up chops are rusty perhaps she had better relinquish her MSM card to a more Ratheresque figure within the vast AP bureaucracy.

Posted by: Johann at December 10, 2006 02:39 PM

Excellent post. I just added a teaser and link to CENTCOM says AP’s "Iraqi police source" isn’t Iraqi police -- Part 13

Posted by: Bill Faith at December 10, 2006 03:21 PM

The AP reaction is becoming more and more reminiscent of RatherGate.

Posted by: TallDave at December 10, 2006 03:34 PM

The AP reaction is becoming more and more reminiscent of RatherGate.

Posted by: TallDave at December 10, 2006 03:35 PM

Ah, and I see Abotreeist has given us the "fake but accurate" defense of the story.

Posted by: TallDave at December 10, 2006 03:36 PM

AP's propaganda machine has been exposed... and it seems probable that they are now forced to scrub reports that could further impugn their shattered credibility: We should see a palpable Jamil Hussein effect as the AP concentrates on reporting only that violence and "chaos" that it can document.

Already, the routine dispatch in recent days seems to have dropped the obligatory call to the Baghdad morgue:

Google "AP: Iraq morgue Baghdad"

Posted by: happyfeet at December 10, 2006 03:53 PM

Jamal Hussein is more and more suonding like Captain Tuttle on that old episode of M*A*S*H.

The interesting thing is, if he really does exist and is as trusted and reliable a source as Carroll and others at the AP claim, then we shouldn't have to wait long to see more stories use him as sourcing, at which time, I presume, the AP staffer can snap a quick photo with a small digital camera to prove to all the doubters that he's for real.

On the other hand, if he's a fake, like Hawkeye and Trapper's Tuttle was, then it wouldn't be surprising to find out he's met the same sort of end -- blown up by a bomb or shot and killed by an insurgant before he had a chance to tell his story to the world. Dead men tell no tales, even if they're imaginary dead men.

Posted by: John at December 10, 2006 04:27 PM

Geeez, of course aliens have beamed up three of the mosques for repair, they being helpful little green men. And Jamil Hussien is realy Jamilia Hussiana leader of the Orion 5th fleet. Have I cleared up things for you?

Oh yeah, AP is really Alien Press.


By the way this is just as truthful as the current crap from the AP.

Posted by: David at December 10, 2006 04:32 PM

To call the AP a laughingstock at this point is to overestimate their credibility.

p.s, manual trackback

Posted by: Doug Ross at December 10, 2006 04:49 PM

Gee, the guy with the Bush malapropism for a screen name has an opinion on Iraq.

Posted by: Jim Treacher at December 10, 2006 07:38 PM

Wouldn't companies that purchace AP products be able to sue for fraud, or something?

Not that I am suggesting a class action suit against AP mind you, not at all, not at all.


Posted by: Paul at December 10, 2006 11:14 PM


That reminds me of a story about the devil failing to make good on a contract with heaven.

St. Peter says to the devil, "If you don't honor your contract, I'm going to have to sue".

And the devil replies: "Yeah, right. Where are YOU going to find a lawyer?"

Posted by: cfbleachers at December 11, 2006 12:25 PM