February 21, 2007

Back to the Board

Last Thursday, I provided Associated Press Media Relations Director Linda Wagner with confirmation that a January 4 Steven R. Hurst article appears to be 180-degrees from the truth. To date, neither Wagner nor any other AP contact has deemed to provide any sort of response. Frankly, I didn't expect one. The Hurst article was a CYA piece written to provide cover for shoddy Associated Press reporting, and it is not in their personal interests to admit that they've been caught apparently fabricating that story from the ground up.

I've thus resorted to contacting several members of the AP Board of Directors with the following letter sent out just moments ago, hoping that they will display the integrity that neither AP reporters nor senior management seem to have any interest in maintaining.

If they decline to investigate this extended "Jayson Blair" moment, then their integrity and credibility as a news organization, to put it mildly, is shot.

Here is a copy of the letter, with links added for context and HTML formatting added:

Julie Inskeep
The Journal Gazette
Fort Wayne, Indiana

David Lord
Pioneer Newspapers, Inc.
Seattle, Washington

R. John Mitchell
Rutland Herald
Rutland, Vermont

Jon Rust
Southeast Missourian
Co-president, Rust Communications
Cape Girardeau, Missouri

William Dean Singleton
Vice Chairman and CEO
MediaNews Group Inc.
Denver, Colorado

Jay R. Smith
Cox Newspapers, Inc.
Atlanta, Georgia

Dear Publisher Inskeep, President Lord, Publisher Mitchell, Publisher Rust, CEO Singleton, and President Smith:

I write to you today as members of the Board of Directors for the Associated Press. I have uncovered conclusive evidence that The January 4, 2007 article by Associated Press reporter Steven R. Hurst titled "Iraq threatens arrest of police captain who spoke to media" is highly deceptive to the point I think that most reasonable people would consider it an outright lie.

The post is currently online here:

In that post, Hurst states:

"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 captain, whose full name is Jamil Gholaiem Hussein, was one of the sources for an AP story in late November about the burning and shooting of six people during a sectarian attack at a Sunni mosque.

"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."

People who read the report are led to believe that Iraqi Interior Ministry spokesman Brigadier General Abdul-Karim Khalaf confirmed that AP's source is named Jamil Gholaiem Hussein. BG Abdul-Karim Khalaf did no such thing.

In fact, on January 11, LT. Michael Dean, LT, US Navy assigned to Multi-National Corps-Iraq Public Affairs forwarded to me and several other bloggers the following an email from Bill Costlow, a civilian liaison with the Civilian Police Assistance Training Team (CPATT) working with the Iraqi Interior Ministry in Baghdad. The email said, in part (my bold):

"Seems like every time I talk to somebody about this guy, his name changes. His personnel record says his name is: Jamil Gulaim Innad XX XXXXXXX [name redacted for blog publication -ed.]. Spokesman BG Abdul-Kareem has spoken with members of the AP in Baghdad and has confirmation that he is their source."

Note the last line in that paragraph. BG Abdul-Karim Khalaf did not confirm that the AP source was named Jamil Hussein. Quite to the contrary, AP reporters confirmed that the AP source was not Jamil Hussein, but was instead a man named Jamil Gulaim Innad XX XXXXXXX. To put it quite bluntly, Hurst's article is a categorical and blatant lie.

I followed up on this email, and got the following direct quote from BG Abdul-Karim Khalaf, forwarded to me by Bill Costlow, the Civilian Police Assistance Training Team (CPATT) liaison to the Iraqi Interior Ministry, on February 15:

"We couldn't identify CPT Jamil right away because the AP used the wrong name: we couldn't find a "CPT Jamil Hussein" — but later, when we saw the name "Jamil Gulaim Hussein", it became obvious that they were talking about CPT Jamil Gulaim Innad XX XXXXXXX" as the only 'Jamil Gulaim' assigned there (ever) and whose assignment records show he previously worked in Yarmouk, as also reported by the AP. Since the issue for us is the release of false news into the media, we're satisfied that the AP is no longer quoting a questionable source."

The General flatly states that Jamil Hussein is not Jamil Hussein as AP still contends, but is instead, CPT Jamil Gulaim Innad XX XXXXXXX.

Multiple levels of Associated Press employees, from stringers in the field in Iraq all the way up to Executive Editor Kathleen Carroll, International Editor Daniszewski, and Media Relations Director Linda Wagner, may have been knowingly perpetuating this pseudonym, and in essence, participating in a long-running fabrication.

They have apparently been deceiving Associated Press readers worldwide for over a month, and perhaps for as long as two years, if they knew his actual identity from the beginning.

AP Media Relations Director Linda Wagner was provided Brigadier General Abdul-Karim Khalaf’s direct quote for comment on the morning of February 15, but has declined to respond this far.

I have in my possession Brigadier General Abdul-Karim Khalaf's phone number for a direct confirmation of these charges, and I will gladly provide you with that number.

The Associated Press lied about the identity of Jamil Hussein, and still persists in maintaining this fabrication.

As readers and consumers of news provided by the Associated Press, we deserve a full retraction of the deceptive January 4 Steven R. Hurst article, an investigation of how long this willful deception has been on-going, and a formal apology. It is past time for the Associated Press to live up to these words in "The Associated Press Statement of News Values and Principles:"

"In the 21st century, that news is transmitted in more ways than ever before – in print, on the air and on the Web, with words, images, graphics, sounds and video. But always and in all media, we insist on the highest standards of integrity and ethical behavior when we gather and deliver the news.

"That means we abhor inaccuracies, carelessness, bias or distortions. It means we will not knowingly introduce false information into material intended for publication or broadcast; nor will we alter photo or image content. Quotations must be accurate, and precise.

"It means we always strive to identify all the sources of our information, shielding them with anonymity only when they insist upon it and when they provide vital information – not opinion or speculation; when there is no other way to obtain that information; and when we know the source is knowledgeable and reliable.

"It means we don't plagiarize.

"It means we avoid behavior or activities that create a conflict of interest and compromise our ability to report the news fairly and accurately, uninfluenced by any person or action.

"It means we don't misidentify or misrepresent ourselves to get a story. When we seek an interview, we identify ourselves as AP journalists.

"It means we don’t pay newsmakers for interviews, to take their photographs or to film or record them.

"It means we must be fair. Whenever we portray someone in a negative light, we must make a real effort to obtain a response from that person. When mistakes are made, they must be corrected – fully, quickly and ungrudgingly.

"And ultimately, it means it is the responsibility of every one of us to ensure that these standards are upheld. Any time a question is raised about any aspect of our work, it should be taken seriously."

A serious question has been raised regarding the apparent fabrication of a self-serving Associated Press claim, one that the management of the Associated Press seems to have no inclination to correct.

As members of the Board of Directors for the Associated Press, you have the responsibility to fully investigate this matter. If you decline to do so, your stated values and principles will be revealed for merely empty, self-serving words.


Bob Owens
Confederate Yankee Blog

Regular readers many note that I've approached these members of the Associated Press Board of Directors in the past to address problems with the AP's Hurriyah reporting, where the AP still maintains that 24 people died in mosque attacks on November 24, 2006, even though no bodies have ever been recovered, and despite the fact that photographic evidence shows conclusively that an "inferno" at one mosque where AP wrote that 18 people died, frankly, never burned at all.

I therefore have very little confidence that even the clear lies printed about what Brig. Abdul-Karim Khalaf actually said will be addressed by the AP Board of Directors, though I welcome you to use the email addresses provided above to let your dissatisfaction with the quality of the AP's reporting on this matter be known.

The Associated Press published an apparent bald-faced lied on January 4, and has made no noticeable effort to atone for that most egregious of journalistic sins.

BG Abdul-Karim Khalaf never said AP's source was Jamil Hussein. Instead, AP reporters confirmed to him that their sources name was Jamil Gulaim Innad XX XXXXXXX. The story Hurst published was in direct opposition to what BG Abdul-Karim Khalaf says occurred.

The Associated Press apparently fabricated a cover-up. The only question is just how high up that cover-up goes.

Posted by Confederate Yankee at February 21, 2007 10:02 AM

AP has contracted with Rosemary Woods to engineer this ;->

Posted by: Purple Avenger at February 21, 2007 02:20 PM

Have you noticed that your site doesn't get listed under news.g? searches for "Jamil Hussein" anymore? It used to. Now it doesn't.

Posted by: x at February 21, 2007 03:47 PM


that wasn't a metric I was tracking, but I went to Google News to check out what you said, typed in "Jamil Hussein, " and stuff I wrote accounts for 3 of the top 4 links right now. One is a newsbusters post of mine, and the others show as Jawa Report links, but they go directly to my site.

Posted by: Confederate Yankee at February 21, 2007 04:06 PM

Neither offense nor snark intended here, but isn't it possible that you're not getting a reply to your letter because it a) is very, very lengthy and b) comes from a blogger (as opposed to an established journalist)?

Posted by: Doc Washboard at February 21, 2007 04:14 PM

Doc, that is a valid question as it relates to the AP Board members, and I suspect that some them probably have an executive assistant to screen their emails.

That said, the subject matter discussed also went to AP Media Relations Director Linda Wagner, the same woman who virtually tripped over herself to issue a hasty denial when I asked Steven Hurst to confirm Jamil's real name weeks ago. She and other senior AP managers likely knew Jamil's real last name before Hurst's article went to print on Janaury 4th, and if that speculation is correct, it would make them a party to fraud... not real good for their job security.

I know Wagner reads at least some of my emails, as she had responded to me directly several times. It's when I've noted little things, like the exaggerations or false accounts, that she decides to clam up.

The AP got caught lying, and hopes that by merely waiting it out, they can get through it without too much damage.

Who knows? They might even be right.

Posted by: Confederate Yankee at February 21, 2007 04:34 PM

Bob, isn't it possible that the reason you get no response is because the AP's reaction is "Ugh, there's that guy who told us that JH didn't exist and he did. So, um, why should we waste our time listening to his reckless ass?" And why would they be wrong?

You're not exactly the epitome of reliability, fella.

Posted by: ts at February 21, 2007 04:35 PM

ts, you might want to try re-reading this post again.

Jamil Hussein doesn't exist. He never did, as Brigadier General Abdul-Karim Khalaf confirmed.

AP's source is another name entirely, and what's more, AP knows I have the right name, which is why they're clamming up now, instead of issuing heated denials as they have in the past.

Posted by: Confederate Yankee at February 21, 2007 04:42 PM

Keep after 'em, Bob. I excerpted and linked from Part 50 of my Jamilgate series.

Posted by: Bill Faith at February 21, 2007 04:54 PM


you've done excellent work and presented the situation well in your letters.

Posted by: wuzrobbd at February 21, 2007 05:34 PM

Yeah, your stories still show up at other sites (for now? ; -). I just meant the confederateyankee site. Your Feb. 15th confederateyankee entry on Jamil Hussein was the top hit at google news for a couple days, then it disappeared. Wonder if maybe someone at google decided that confederateyankee no longer \\\"qualifies\\\" as news.

Posted by: x at February 21, 2007 08:16 PM