The AP’s Jamil Hussein Scandal

 

by Eason Jordan. If an Iraqi police captain by the name of Jamil Hussein exists, there is no convincing evidence of it – and that means the Associated Press has a journalistic scandal on its hands that will fester until the AP deals with it properly.

This controversy and the AP’s handling of it call into question the credibility, integrity, and smarts of one of the world’s biggest, most influential, most respected news organizations, the New York-based Associated Press.

The back story: On November 24, the AP quoted Iraqi Police Captain Jamil Hussein as the source of a sensational AP story that began this way:

“Militiamen grabbed six Sunnis as they left Friday worship services, doused them with kerosene and burned them alive as Iraqi soldiers stood by.”

It was a horrific report that was an AP exclusive – a story picked up and reported by news outlets across the U.S. and the world.

The U.S. military and Iraqi officials were quick to call the story baseless, saying there was no evidence that six Sunnis were burned to death in Hurriya and that there was no record of an Iraqi police captain named Jamil Hussein. The U.S. military and the Iraqi government demanded the AP retract the story and explain itself.

The AP fired back with at least three strong statements defending the initial AP report and provided a follow-up report from Baghdad quoting anonymous witnesses as confirming the original immolation story.

In the absence of irrefutable evidence that Captain Hussein exists and that the original AP report was accurate, bloggers and a few mainstream media journalists kept plugging away in an effort to get to the truth about whether there is a Captain Hussein and whether six Sunnis were burned alive that day.

Five weeks after the disputed episode, key questions remain unanswered, but what is clear is the AP has botched its handling of this controversy – and it’s not going away until the AP deals with it forthrightly and transparently.

IraqSlogger’s probe into the case is inconclusive, with conflicting and unconfirmed information regarding whether there’s a Captain Hussein and whether the reported immolation happened.

Inquiries by others point to there being no Captain Jamil Hussein, although there is no proof of that.

While proof might yet surface to substantiate the AP’s story – there is circumstantial but unreliable evidence in that regard – conclusive evidence has not yet materialized.

The AP has steadfastly refused to answer questions about this episode from IraqSlogger and other news outlets and bloggers.

In statements, the AP insists Captain Hussein is real, insists he has been known to the AP and others for years, and insists the immolation episode occurred based on multiple eyewitnesses.

But efforts by two governments, several news organizations, and bloggers have failed to produce such evidence or proof that there is a Captain Jamil Hussein. The AP cannot or will not produce him or convincing evidence of his existence.

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Blogging will be light today….

And there is a very good reason for that.

Like most Americans, every New Year’s Day I will entertain the idea of making a New Year’s resolution or two. I think that New Year’s Resolutions are probably a poor way to go about changing something about myself, whether it is stopping an old habit, or acquiring a new one. Having said that, effective Jan 1, 2007, I made a New Year’s Resolution.

Thirty-two years ago, I was a college sophomore, and my dormitory roommate was a few years older than I, had a job at the hospital, money to spend, a new car, and all the chicks dug him. He also smoked Vantage menthol cigarettes.

Naturally, I figured that all I needed to do to be as cool as he, was to buy me a pack of Vantage menthols and learn to smoke those suckers. It wasn’t easy. Made me throwing up sick on more than one occasion — but I was determined — and I finally mastered the art of smoking.

Now, don’t get me wrong. I don’t blame my roommate for my smoking. It was completely my decision – a decision made against the counsel of friends and pleading of family.

And now, some 350,000 cigarettes later, I have decided that being cool and having the chicks dig me is not so important anymore, especially since the chicks in my life dig me OK, and being cool is very over-rated. And, since I’m doing this thing cold-turkey, I’ve accepted the fact that I’ll be more of a SOB than usual for a few days while my mind and body adjust to new ways of coping.

Wish me luck.

Nuke

say it ain’t so:  Cheese is Junk Food?

Two Black Americas?

Stephen Dubner has some very interesting commentary at Freakonomics Blog . Worth a look……………….

The Harvard sociologist Orlando Patterson, a guest OpEd columnist in the N.Y. Times, has an interesting piece today (subscription required) about W.E.B. DuBois’s famous prediction that the problem of the 20th century would be the color line. The prediction, Patterson writes, had two components to it: “One side was the near complete exclusion of African-Americans and other minorities from the upper echelons and leadership of American society, public life and national identity. The other was the segregation of blacks from the social, communal and intimate cultural life of white Americans.”

Patterson’s argument, in short, is that the first part of the color-line problem has been spectacularly resolved while the second part has barely budged. He points to Colin Powell, Barack Obama, Oprah Winfrey, Condoleezza Rice, and Deval Patrick as current examples of blacks who have achieved leadership positions of the highest order. “But when we turn to the other side of DuBois’s color line,” he writes, “we find a stunning paradox: accompanying this public integration has been the near complete isolation of blacks from the private life of the white majority. Recent modest improvements notwithstanding, blacks, including the middle class, are nearly as segregated today as they were in DuBois’s day.”

Read it all

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