Monday, November 27, 2006

Sourcing the News Turns Up Interesting Development

Curt at Flopping Aces was definitely on to something when he originally wrote about the curious Iraqi police Capt. Jamil Hussein. Curt found out that Captain Hussein was neither a Captain in the Iraqi police nor was in the employ of the Iraqi Interior Ministry. Yet, Hussein was cited as the sole source for reporting on deadly attacks and reprisals.

Was Hussein making this stuff up? Well, if he lied about his background, and the incidents themselves never were authenticated by anyone other than Hussein, I'd say that they were likely made up out of whole cloth. And the media willingly accepted the story without investigating further.

Curt did the job that no one in the media wanted to do, and sadly CENTCOM didn't get out in front of the story to highlight the media's acceptance of stories without questioning the source or finding corroborating evidence to support them.

Since Curt's main site is down, here's what CENTCOM had to say about the matter:
BIG UPDATE…..Centcom has confirmed this Capt. Jamil Hussein is NOT a Police Officer nor is he employed by the Ministry of Interior:

Classification: UNCLASSIFIED

Dear Associated Press:

On Nov. 24, 2006, your organization published an article by Qais Al-Bashir about six Sunnis being burned alive in the presence of Iraqi Police officers. This news item, which is below, received an enormous amount of coverage internationally.

We at Multi-National Corps - Iraq made it known through MNC-I Press Release Number 20061125-09 and our conversations with your reporters that neither we nor Baghdad Police had any reports of such an incident after investigating it and could find no one to corroborate the story. A couple of hours ago, we learned something else very important. We can tell you definitively that the primary source of this story, police Capt. Jamil Hussein, is not a Baghdad police officer or an MOI employee. We verified this fact with the MOI through the Coalition Police Assistance Training Team.

Also, we definitely know, as we told you several weeks ago through the MNC-I Media Relations cell, that another AP-popular IP spokesman, Lt. Maithem Abdul Razzaq, supposedly of the city’s Yarmouk police station, does not work at that police station and is also not authorized to speak on behalf of the IP. The MOI has supposedly issued a warrant for his questioning.

I know we have informed you that there exists an MOI edict that no one below the level of chief is authorized to be an Iraqi Police spokesperson. An unauthorized IP spokesperson will get fired for talking to the media. While I understand the importance of a news agency to use anonymous and unauthorized sources, it is still incumbent upon them to make sure their facts are straight. Was this information verified by anyone else? If the source providing the information is lying about his name, then he ought not to be represented as an official IP spokesperson and should be listed as an anonymous source.

Unless you have a credible source to corroborate the story of the people being burned alive, we respectfully request that AP issue a retraction, or a correction at a minimum, acknowledging that the source named in the story is not who he claimed he was. MNC-I and MNF-I are always available and willing to verify events and provide as much information as possible when asked.

Very respectfully,

Lieutenant, U.S. Navy
MNC-I Joint Operations Center
Public Affairs Officer
Not only is Capt. Hussein bogus, but another source the AP has used extensively is bogus.
How much other news coming from Iraq is bogus and unreliable because the sources themselves are bogus or actually shilling for the enemy? This is all part of an ongoing problem in relying on stringers and locals whose loyalties and intentions are not to report the news, but to spread propaganda.

Fixed grammar in opening paragraph for clarity. Others picking up the gauntlet and laying it down on the media and those in the media who did not do sufficient legwork to determine whether Hussein was who he said he was including: Confederate Yankee, Jeff Goldstein, Sister Toldjah, Physics Geek Jesus Freak, Wake Up America, Right Voices, Villainous Company, Michelle Malkin, Bizzyblog, Patterico, Wizbang, and Northern Gleaner.

Florida Cracker notes that CENTCOM is demanding a retraction. I wouldn't hold my breath and if it does issue a retraction, it will not get the kind of media exposure that the original bogus and exaggerated stories got. An Adnan Hajj photo kill is not going to change the fact that the stories already are out there and circling the globe many times over before their authenticity and veracity are found to be lacking.

OPFOR notes that there are now questions about another AP stringer. Figures.

Still others weighing in: Hot Air, Ed Driscoll, and Ace of Spades.

It's instructive that the media relies on these stringers and unreliable sources, and pontificates on their claims, without undertaking an examination to see whether they're accurately reflecting the situation in Iraq. MSNBC has gone so far as to claim that there is a civil war going on in Iraq, and while the violence of the past week has indeed been brutal, the fact that the latest curfew was lifted in Baghdad suggests that things aren't as bad as a civil war. After all, if this situation had broken down so badly, why would the Iraqi government lift the curfew, which had managed to calm the situation - again, another sign that this isn't a civil war. Sundries Shack also wonders about the media efforts.

Gateway Pundit provides a handy dandy timeline of stories produced by Hussein, which stretches back to April 2006.

Seedubya has a great posting on the whole situation and wonders who exactly Hussein was a spokesperson for. That's a great question, but I doubt that the media is going to investigate the matter further, despite the newsworthiness of knowing whether we've got yet another mass fabricator of news.

Still others weighing in: Gina Cobb, The Anchoress, Dan Riehl, and Dread Pundit Bluto.

Technorati: , , , .

No comments: