Eason Jordan on Jamilgate

Mary Katharine Ham
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Posted: Jan 05, 2007 12:56 PM

Like I said, lingering questions.

One of my more critical commenters wonders why I linked to Jawa instead of Jordan. No particular reason except that Jawa's where I saw it first. But my commenter doesn't want you to miss any of this, from Jordan's post:

Iraqi officials and U.S. military spokesmen look foolish for making the mistake of flatly stating in late November that there was no Iraqi police captain by the name of Jamil Hussein. Those clumsy, baseless statements were unfair to the AP. Those erronenous statements -- and their statements questioning the information the AP attributed to Captain Hussein -- triggered the six-week-long controversy that followed.

Yup, as I wondered yesterday, when did they know he existed? They should have announced that right away.

Jamil Hussein made a mistake by waiting six weeks to speak out on this matter.

Um, yes again.

The AP erred in part by responding in a hot-headed, antagonistic way to questions about the existence of Jamil Hussein and the credibility of AP reports featuring comments from Captain Hussein. The AP's harsh statements fueled the suspicions of critics and those who otherwise would give the AP the benefit of the doubt. Another mistake: the AP took too long to provide irrefutable evidence of Captain Hussein's existence.

Yes, yes, and yes. In fact, it ended up being the Iraqi government that produced proof, and the AP just reported on it. Presumably, they had the power to reveal what the MOI did six weeks ago. They should have done so. Really dumb move. If people are asking legitimate questions about your reporting, you should answer them, so that they can be assured your reporting is legitimate.

The AP's most strident critics were wrong to accept the word of U.S. and Iraqi officials as the absolute truth while dismissing the AP's sourcing, stories, and explanations as outright lies.

Well, to be fair, no one could find this guy. It wasn't just U.S. and Iraqi officials, but AP failed to produce him, as did many other sources on the ground, as Jordan goes on to note. The AP's rebuttals we're outright lies, but they weren't real helpful, and in many cases, they were combating bloggers when they should have been corroborating stories.