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January 11, 2007

Responding To Allah On "Jamil Hussein"

I can't blame him for wanting to walk away from this story. I didn't have much interest in pursuing it again either, and didn't until he prompted me to.

But:

Look, you canít claim for weeks on end (replete with mocking graphics) that a guy doesnít exist and then, when evidence emerges that he does, turn on a dime and trumpet the fact that he used a pseudonym as HUGE news. Itís news. Thatís as much as can be said for it.

But.

You also can't claim for weeks (replete with dismissive, haughty I-shall-not-dignify-these-accusations-with-a-response stonewalling) that of course a "Capt. Jamil Hussein" exists, why we've been talking to him for years, it's your own stupid faults you can't find "Capt. Jamil Hussein," why, if you were over here in Iraq rather than on your soft white asses in your climate-controlled cubicles you could find "Capt. Jamil Hussein" easily yourself (all the stores sell him in six-packs), and then turn on a dime and claim that of course everyone should have known you were using a fake name, and had they just searched through all possible names containing the first name "Jamil," everyone could have easily confirmed the existence of a "Jamil Not Hussein" themselves.

Can you?


There are two spins here, neither right. The first -- which, surprisingly, even Mickey Kaus offered -- is that the existence of Jamil Hussein (even if his name is not, in fact, "Jamil Hussein" at all) means very little, because it's all about his actual reportage and his existence does not establish his claims as true.

That's spin. The "Burinin' Six" story is still very much in doubt -- did no one at the scene of this incredible mayhem think to take a picture? It would be worth a thousand dollars, right? -- but it would have been a scandal big enough to threaten AP's entire reputation had there been no actual source at all. And some, including me, began to suspect that was the case as no one -- no one, including the NYT -- was able to confirm the existence of a "Jamil Hussein."

On the other hand, it's also spin to suggest as the left does (and as Allah accepts, just to not further get involved with a decidedly muddy story) that AP has been "vindicated."

They were?

Caught using a fake name for a source when simply citing an anonymous source was the correct, AP-approved response, then compounding that breach by further lying to the world about it?

That's vindication? Well, yeah, a guy exists. Not by the name you reported, but there is a person out there with a different name.

E&P can afford to add some crow to its diet -- there is no source named Capt. Jamil Hussein, it seems, just as AP's critics said. But don't expect a follow-up.

I'm tempted at this point to question what other breaches AP may have committed with this source. He was very concerned about his safety-- insisting that AP violate journalistic ethics and refer to him by a false name. So, being so concerned, what possibly could have prompted him to be such a prolific leaker to the AP?

Just the fact that he digs on AP?

I rather doubt it. I imagine there was a more tangible benefit. Which may explain why he was always there to "confirm" stories occurring well outside of his jurisdiction, about which it seems unlikely he had any real first-hand information.

$100 bucks a confirmation, perhaps?

You get what you pay for.

Money in, garbage out.

More Justifiable: I don't know how Arabic names work; they seem to sometimes go by other names than their given name.

If this guy really is known, to some at least, as "Jamil Hussein," though not officially, it wouldn't be a major problem for AP to refer to him by a real, though obscure, name.

Maybe that's what happened here. In which case AP wouldn't be guilty of any misconduct in naming its source, and would be understandably reluctant to give his legal name (which MOI could actually find).

Maybe. But it would still seem that AP and the left should not be dancing in the end zone over the fact that no one (including the NYT; remember how they too failed to verify the guy?) could find him by a name calculated to keep people from finding him.

And... Even if AP is innocent of the most deadly charge levelled at it, we still have the problem of an ever-shifting number of mosques set ablaze, "morgue workers" confirming the story in a hospital containing no morgue, the AP's ever-evolving revisions of the sourcing of the story, etc.

AP still hasn't clearly said what, among its various versions of the story and its various claims of sourcing for it, the correct, verified, complete and accurate tale really is.

We're supposed to guess, to choose from the various permutations it's offered, and decide, I guess, which of stories (all supposedly confirmed, and yet each disagreeing with the others on key details) we like the best.

They report, we decide.

Egalitarian, I guess. They're letting us, the news-consumers, choose which among several varying accounts is actually the true one.

I guess Time magazine was right -- We are now ALL the media.

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posted by Ace at 03:51 PM

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