Patterico's Pontifications

1/21/2007

AP’s Destroyed Mosques: Not Destroyed

Filed under: General,Media Bias,War — Patterico @ 10:16 am



Michelle Malkin has seen several mosques that were described as “destroyed” by the AP. They are still standing. Her post also has what military sources say (and timestamps corroborate) are contemporaneous pictures of at least three of those mosques, from the day after they were allegedly “destroyed.” She has an accompanying New York Post piece that announces her findings.

Here is the background, for those of you who may have forgotten.

On November 24, 2006, the AP cited claims by Sunnis in Baghdad that Shiites had “destroyed” four mosques:

Sunnis claim mosques and houses burned by Shiite militia, police watch
By QAIS AL-BASHIR
Associated Press Writer

BAGHDAD, Iraq (AP) – Sunni residents in a volatile northwest Baghdad neighborhood claimed Friday that revenge-seeking Shiite militiamen had destroyed four Sunni mosques, burned homes and killed many people, while the Shiite-dominated police force stood by and did nothing.

(All emphasis in this post is mine.)

The cited story is not on the Web [UPDATE: commenter DRJ shows that it is], but Mary Katharine Ham has quotes from it at this post, and I verified through a free Lexis/Nexis ALaCarte search that her quote is accurate, and that the AP did indeed quote Sunnis as claiming that four mosques had been “destroyed”:

destroyedmosques.JPG

I am not aware of any correction that the AP has ever made to the story.

A subsequent AP story (excerpted in Mary Katharine’s post) quoted Capt. Jamil Hussein as saying that four mosques had been “torched”:

Police Capt. Jamil Hussein said Iraqi soldiers at a nearby army post failed to intervene in the burnings of Sunnis carried out by suspected members of the Shiite Mahdi Army militia, or in subsequent attacks that torched four Sunni mosques and killed at least 19 other Sunnis, including women and children, in the same northwest Baghdad area.

And this AP story specified which four mosques had been attacked, according to Hussein:

The militiamen attacked and burned the Ahbab al-Mustafa, Nidaa Allah, al-Muhaimin and al-Qaqaqa mosques in the rampage that did not end until American forces arrived, Hussein said.

If you look at Michelle’s post, you will see pictures from the first three: the Mustafa, Nidaa Alah, and Muhaymin mosques. All of the pictures are from November 25, 2006 — the day after the AP described them as “destroyed.’ They were not. Michelle has seen all three.

I should note that there is a question about the fourth mosque. As I noted on December 19, a military press release from November 25 “appears to discuss a mosque not named in the AP story: Al Meshaheda.” That sounds like “al Mushahiba” (the fourth mosque mentioned in Michelle’s piece) but not like “al-Qaqaqa” (the one named in the AP story). I have e-mailed Michelle about this and she is following up.

Regardless of the answer to the question about the al-Qaqaqa mosque, we now have proof that at least three of the four mosques described as “destroyed” — were not.

The AP owes readers a correction.

On December 19, I said:

I’m tempted to start a daily “How Many Days Has It Been Since The AP Claimed Four Mosques Were Burned And Has Failed to Retract the Claim?” feature — but, in a rare display of blogger restraint, I’ll wait for the pictures . . . which I understand may be forthcoming soon.

It took longer than I thought, but we now have pictures.

And in case you’re interested, it’s been 58 days.

How about it, AP? Care to issue that correction?

And do you care to give us a clear statement as to whether you knowingly used a pseudonym for Jamil Hussein without disclosing it?

We’re waiting.

P.S. For the fake but accurate crowd, Michelle says:

Make no mistake. Hurriya is a Shiite militia-infested neighborhood where Sunnis have suffered horrible treatment. We accompanied a civil affairs patrol to a neighborhood meeting where US Mahdi Army apologists falsely accused Army Rangers of damaging their mosque and refused to provide any information on a kidnapping incident involving two Sunnis rescued by the Iraqi Army. But as the troops who work closely with that Iraqi Army battalion told us, the incident that made front page covers and worldwide headlines last Thanksgiving didn’t happen the way the AP and Jamil Hussein said it did . . .

Nobody is saying that atrocities don’t happen in Iraq. But this story has uncorrected inaccuracies, and those matter –despite the fact that atrocities are taking place. Accuracy in Big Media is always important. And if the various investigations into Iraq war reporting tell us anything, it’s that we should be skeptical. Michelle puts it well at the end of her New York Post piece:

MANY Iraqis lie to survive. Rumor is the common national dialect that unites the country’s warring sects and tribes. Sunni journalists carry multiple ID cards to disguise themselves. Shiite Iraqi Army members hide their day jobs – changing into uniform only after arriving on base.

Deception and manipulation are also tools of the insurgent trade. Satellites, cellphones and Internet cafes aid insurgent and militia propaganda wars 24/7.

It behooves the Western media to acknowledge these realities and maintain as much transparency about their sources and local stringers as possible.

Amen.

53 Responses to “AP’s Destroyed Mosques: Not Destroyed”

  1. If the AP believed what they were reporting at the time then it’s not a lie.

    Just like Bush and the sixteen famous words.

    The Liberal Avenger (c93dac)

  2. Did I say the AP lied?

    Control-F, type in the word “lie.”

    Identify strawman.

    By the way, the sixteen words were not a lie inpart because they were accurate: Saddam did seek uranium from Africa.

    Patterico (a8fa4a)

  3. Well, okay so Malkin was right: the AP engaged in sloppy reporting based on dubious sources and behaved in professionally irresponsible ways but hey, what about Bush and, well, sixteen words, cocaine, er National Guard, umm…..?

    Geezus, pathetic.

    SteveMG (777560)

  4. Live, From AP: The Jamil Hussein Dog and Pony Show…

    Michelle Malkin just returned from Baghdad, Iraq, and among the things she saw there were some disturbing sights. She was able to view the still standing mosques that the AP’s Jamil Hussein said were damaged and destroyed by firebombings and that any….

    A Blog For All (59ce3a)

  5. It’s nice that lefties are acknowledging that the AP is a political entity like George Bush.

    Just think of the defense being used

    Bush = AP, so its OK.

    The AP is supposedly aspiring to objectivity. It is also echoing enemy propaganda.

    jpm100 (851d24)

  6. Four mosques:

    One looks like it had pretty severe fire damage.
    One had its dome destroyed
    Another received small arms fire
    A fourth has yet to be indentified.

    Saying that four mosques were “destroyed” simple doesn’t seem as outrageous as you appear to believe it to be.

    Insisting repeatedly over weeks that a man named Jamail Hussein doesn’t exist would appear to be far more outrageous than an inaccurate statement regarding the extent of the damage to these four mosques inside a war zone.

    Also of note: if the dome was blown in on the other side of that one mosque, why wasn’t that photo included? Was it because the blown in dome was “destroyed” ?

    The Liberal Avenger (c93dac)

  7. Saying that four mosques were “destroyed” simple doesn’t seem as outrageous as you appear to believe it to be.

    Strawman. I didn’t claim it was outrageous. I said it is inaccurate and should be corrected.

    Insisting repeatedly over weeks that a man named Jamail Hussein doesn’t exist would appear to be far more outrageous than an inaccurate statement regarding the extent of the damage to these four mosques inside a war zone.

    Strawman. I didn’t do that. To my knowledge, those who raised speculations to that effect have corrected them. If anyone hasn’t, they should.

    Also of note: if the dome was blown in on the other side of that one mosque, why wasn’t that photo included? Was it because the blown in dome was “destroyed” ?

    I wish we had that picture. But the fact that the other side was partially blown out was reported.

    Patterico (a8fa4a)

  8. The Liberal Avenger,

    Insisting repeatedly over weeks that a man named Jamail Hussein doesn’t exist would appear to be far more outrageous

    Please provide a link to any post on any blog that claimed that a man named Jamail Hussein doesn’t exist. I predict you won’t be able to produce a single example of a prominent blog having made such a claim.

    aunursa (3601c9)

  9. I think there were some who said it in various ways.

    Patterico (a8fa4a)

  10. Reference comment 3: The sixteen words already addressed not tyhat you would understand it. Cocaine, where is your proof? Oh yes, the MSM, the same MSM that can’t get the 4 Mosque story right. Wow, what logic. As far as the National Guard story goes, give it up. Hasn’t Dan Rather embarressed you enough?
    JIM

    James Piper (f7ff9f)

  11. Of course, it appears they were right, as far as the name goes.

    Really, for all the mocking from liberals, conservatives come out of this looking pretty good. The AP looks like a stonewalling organization that won’t admit error.

    Patterico (a8fa4a)

  12. Row, row, row your boat!

    What I find outrageous is the AP reaction to dispute on facts. They seem more interested in being some part of a debate rather than getting and reporting facts.

    TCO (ef4a6c)

  13. Given AP’s error here, how do we know AP’s daily Iraqi body counts are accurate?

    Perfect Sense (b6ec8c)

  14. Reference comment 3: The sixteen words already addressed not tyhat you would understand it. Cocaine, where is your proof?

    Umm, my post was sarcastic.

    I was responding to the Liberal Avenger’s attempt to change the topic.

    I know, parodying the moonbats is hard to do. Even the most ridiculous comment seems possible.

    SteveMG (777560)

  15. Liberal Avenger’s Internal Monologue: “Uh oh. I’m up against the wall here! DIVERT! SPIN! CHANGE THE TOPIC! DRAW EQUIVALENCES TO NON-PRESS ORGANIZATIONS! ANYTHING TO DRAW ATTENTION AWAY FROM THE AP’S FAULTY REPORTING! HURRY!”

    OHNOES (3f4332)

  16. Pat, it doesn’t matter: they found Captain Jamil Hussein, and therefore everything reported using him as a source is now God’s Own Truth.

    Please make a note of it.

    Dana (71415b)

  17. Indeed — even though he’s not Captain Jamil Hussein, and I haven’t seen a credible explanation as to how we know the guy they *did* find was the AP’s source?

    [UPDATE: I should note: I still don’t understand any of the stuff about the name of Jamil Hussein. Maybe he really is Jamil Hussein. How the hell do I know? — P]

    Patterico (a8fa4a)

  18. Excellent work, sir. I added a link to Jamilgate: U.S. officers tell Michelle Malkin “burning six” incident didn’t happen. I’m up to Part 42 of my Jamilgate series and the AP is still stonewalling? I’d love to say “unbelievable” but it isn’t.

    Bill Faith (3cc7e8)

  19. Our esteemed host fails to take correction properly:

    Indeed — even though he’s not Captain Jamil Hussein, and I haven’t seen a credible explanation as to how we know the guy they *did* find was the AP’s source?

    Oh, good grief, how can you still be so obtuse? We know that the “guy they *did* find was the AP’s source” because the AP Told Us So. How could you doubt them?

    Dana (71415b)

  20. Maybe if you had a sarcasm smiley installed . . .

    Dana (71415b)

  21. yep the MSM was spewing anti american propaganda just to make bush look bad and we need to not focus on it right Libs ?

    Just admit its OK to lie if it harms GW Bush and that everything you do is political motivated.

    That doesnt make you liars it just makes you dishonest.

    Bill Amos (b7c504)

  22. It seems some people, like The Liberal Avenger #6, have a low threshold for accuracy when it comes to AP stories. Thus, “damaged = destroyed” and “Jamil Hussein exists = Jamil [not Hussein] exists” are treated as equivalents since it makes the AP look good and conservative critics look bad. Not fair, LA.

    DRJ (f4c219)

  23. The AP like Viacom in the Rathergate sham had and agenda. They knew they were telling a lie but the lie supported their goal. For the last 55 years “fake but accurate” has ruled in the American MSM. If it attacks the ideals we want attacked the it is “accurate”. This applies to cars and trucks and many other things not just American ideals. Ask GM for the details.

    Rodney A Stanton (98c62c)

  24. PS I left out Pat’s profession. Ask DA Nifong about “fake but accurate”.
    Pat – I do not include you or the fine folk in LA DA office with Mikey but I do include OJ’s “Dream Team”.
    Fake but accurate has become acceptable by the American “progressives” the last 55 years; all progressives. That means you Nancy!

    Rodney A Stanton (98c62c)

  25. Just like Bush and the sixteen famous words.

    The cartoon superhero Liberal Avenger conveniently forgets that the “sixteen famous words” were the truth. British intelligence did find Saddam seeking nuclear materials in Africa.

    Rather different from demolished mosques and incinerating folks alive.

    The caped crusader might have made a better analogy to “Plastic Turkey.”

    Cordially…

    Rick (785992)

  26. Photographic proof…….

    ….that the AP lied about the four mosques burned to the ground. And eyewitness testimony that the……

    Media Lies (fa8fba)

  27. Oh Yeah, Almost Forgot:…

    Michelle took pictures of those “four destoyed mosques” in Hurriya. They weren’t destroyed. And army guys said that Jamil Hussein’s man-burning incident never happened. (As did the Washington Post a long time ago). And as I noted–I may have been…..

    JunkYardBlog (621918)

  28. I think there were some who said it in various ways.

    It wasn’t Michelle Malkin. And it wasn’t Little Green Footballs. Numerous bloggers questioned whether Hussein actually existed, but as far as I know, not one stated (much less insisted) that he did not exist, as TLA claimed.

    aunursa (1b5bad)

  29. “Given AP’s error here, how do we know AP’s daily Iraqi body counts are accurate?”

    -Perfect Sense

    Yeah, seriously. They could be way higher.

    This isn’t directed at anyone, but people seem to forget that information obtained by the blogging community is secondhand at best. I’m sure AP has people on the ground.

    That said, destroyed wasn’t an appropriate choice of words. But is whether or not the mosques were destroyed as important as the implications such a situation carries? Somebody obviously *tried* to destroy them…

    Hmmm.

    Leviticus (3c2c59)

  30. Leviticus,

    The point is that AP may not have people on the ground but may instead be relying on rumors of violence and reporting these rumors as fact. The rumors may be true, they may not be true, or they may be exaggerated.

    For now, perhaps the best reporting we can get from Baghdad is rumor-based and it’s understandable why that might be so. But we should know that’s what’s happening rather than believing these are first-hand reports.

    DRJ (f4c219)

  31. “I’m sure AP has people on the ground.”
    Apparently so does the blogging community.

    “But is whether or not the mosques were destroyed as important as the implications such a situation carries? Somebody obviously *tried* to destroy them…”
    If that were the case, every terrorist attempt on US soil would be all over the news.

    G (722480)

  32. I’m sure that AP had people on the ground, when they reported that people were eating each other at the Superdome.

    And, really, is whether or not there were actual cases of cannibalism as important as the implications such a situation carries?

    Shorter Leviticus: Fake, but accurate, man. Fake but accurate.

    Lurking Observer (ea88e8)

  33. DRJ,

    So you’re saying that your primary objection to the situation with the AP is that they don’t make it clear that the reports they receive may or may not be true? If they were to admit that the reports they receive are unsubstantiable, then what incentive would you or I have to pay them any mind whatsoever?

    If your answer to this question is that we *shouldn’t* pay them any mind whatsoever, I would have to ask you how you planned on getting your information from the region, and who you thought was more objective than the AP.

    I seriously doubt that the AP printed the story about the mosques without any corroborating evidence.

    But is whether or not the mosques were destroyed as important as the implications such a situation carries? Somebody obviously *tried* to destroy them…

    If that were the case, every terrorist attempt on US soil would be all over the news.”

    -G

    Ummm…yeah.

    That’s pretty much the way it is now.

    Leviticus (3c2c59)

  34. Wow…I never heard about that. Could you link it?

    I’d be shocked if somebody’s ass didn’t get kicked for that.

    Leviticus (3c2c59)

  35. Wow…I never heard about that. Could you link it?

    I’d be shocked if somebody’s ass didn’t get kicked for that.

    Leviticus (3c2c59)

  36. Whoa…I never heard about that, LO.

    Could you link it for me?

    I’d be shocked if anyone let that through without being absolutely sure of its authenticity.

    Leviticus (3c2c59)

  37. Sorry. I got froze up. Didn’t mean to post three copies of the same damn comment.

    Leviticus (3c2c59)

  38. Leviticus #33:

    “So you’re saying that your primary objection to the situation with the AP is that they don’t make it clear that the reports they receive may or may not be true?”

    My objection is that the AP may not have followed its own guidelines as to corroboration, sourcing and pseudonyms and, if so, it did that without telling anyone the rules changed. Had I known that, I might have spent more time looking for corroboration on high profile stories or looking for other sources of information.

    All a journalist has to sell is information. Information that is based solely on rumor isn’t worth much. Thus, the answer to your question is “Yes, that’s all that bothers me.”

    DRJ (8b9d41)

  39. Levi,

    Can you please close your tags?

    DRJ (8b9d41)

  40. I already tried to close my tags, and it didn’t work. I may have done it wrong, but one would think that clicking the “Close Tags” button would be enough.

    Leviticus (43095b)

  41. Levi,

    I hear you. I think inability to close italics has hit all the frequent commenters here at one time or another. I think it’s a software problem that Patterico has to fix.

    DRJ (f4c219)

  42. See. There is goes again.

    DRJ (f4c219)

  43. Hey. It fixes it if you put the close tag prompt in but leave out the opening tag, like this: “”

    I hope this doesn’t undo the fix.

    DRJ (f4c219)

  44. Nope, but it didn’t show the fix so I’ll do it with spaces: Type “” but leave out the spaces and the quotes.

    DRJ (f4c219)

  45. Last time:

    “” but leave out the dashes and quotes.

    DRJ (f4c219)

  46. Curses. I give up.

    DRJ (f4c219)

  47. You knowif you guys want to get fancy in your comments just format them in your HTML maker and cut and paste them here. Don’t try to do it directly with this comment program.

    nk (2e1372)

  48. You mean we’re supposed to think about what we write before we comment and/or edit our thoughts?

    DRJ (f4c219)

  49. Hahaha.

    nk’s way too pro for us.

    Leviticus (3c2c59)

  50. […] On a related note, I followed up on Patterico’s question about the status of the “al-Qaqaqa mosque.” The AP reported that it was one of the mosques “destroyed” in Hurriya. […]

    Hot Air » Blog Archive » Andrew Sullivan smears US troops; Update: Kaus unloads on Sullivan Updated with a response to Sadly, No! (d4224a)

  51. […] (I understand that some ill-informed leftist bloggers have claimed, without proof, that this language was out there for 20 minutes and never made it into an actual story. I’m not linking these morons out of principle. You can easily find their stupid posts yourself. The name of their moronblog rhymes with the phrase “Madly Ho.” My response to these dunderheads is simple. Uh, ill-informed leftist bloggers? Meet Lexis/Nexis.) […]

    Sadly, No! » New Innovations In WTF?ery (d83a19)

  52. “Really, for all the mocking from liberals, conservatives come out of this looking pretty good.”

    Well, yeah, except for the part where so many of them started inexplicably obsessing over whether or not one AP source existed, using this point as a launching pad for yet more interminable ranting about how the MSM is totally trying to undermine the Commander-In-Chief!!!!!, then, when it was shown that the source DID exist, refused to stop. Now you’re quibbling over whether or not it’s appropriate to use the word “destroyed” to refer to mosques that suffered significant fire and small arms damage. Leaving aside the matter of whether or not this actually matters at all in the greater scheme of things, and the matter of whether or not one can accurately use ‘destroyed’ to describe mosques of which portions were damaged to the point of no longer being there, if it turns out the AP did screw up here… what do you gain? In what sense does this provide you all with the vindication of Bush’s terrible Iraq policy that you’ve been hopelessly seeking for so long? And, as a final question: if the AP really DID want to undermine the President, don’t you think that, considering the significant power they wield over the media, they could do it in far more effective ways than describing some mosques as “destroyed” when they were really only ravaged by gunshots and fire?

    arouet (7a4d16)

  53. Bwahahahaha.. so THIS is what all the flap has been about? OMG! Too funny! Let me guess, you’re 42 and still living with your parents?

    Hype-Jersey (686d42)


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