Patterico's Pontifications


22 Paragraphs

Filed under: General — Dana @ 6:36 pm

[guest post by Dana]

Politico has a report about an Iraqi man who died shortly after being deported to Iraq by the Trump administration. It’s a troubling story. But also troubling is how the story is presented. Because behind the telling, lies advocacy.

The lede:

A 41-year-old Detroit man deported to Iraq in June died Tuesday, according to the American Civil Liberties Union and two people close to the man’s family.

The report proceeds to tell the story of Jimmy Aldaoud and how, after his death, the Trump administration was blamed:

Edward Bajoka, an immigration attorney who described himself as close to Aldaoud’s family, wrote on Facebook that the death appeared to be linked to the man’s inability to obtain insulin in Baghdad to treat his diabetes. Aldaoud was an Iraqi national, but he was born in Greece and came to the U.S. as a young child, his family friend said. He had never lived in Iraq and did not speak Arabic, according to Bajoka.

“Rest In Peace Jimmy,” Bajoka wrote. “Your blood is on the hands of ICE and this administration.”

The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) also blamed the Trump administration for Jimmy’s death. This from attorney Miriam Aukerman:

“Jimmy’s death has devastated his family and us,” she said in a written statement. “We knew he would not survive if deported. What we don’t know is how many more people ICE will send to their deaths.”

Here is Jimmy Aldaoud’s Facebook post about his deportation:

Aldaoud spoke about his deportation in an undated video posted to Facebook this week. In the video, he appears to be sitting on a sidewalk stoop in Baghdad.

“Immigration agents pulled me over and said I’m going to Iraq,” he said. “I said, ‘I’ve never been there. I’ve been in this country my whole life, since pretty much birth.’ … They refused to listen to me.”

Aldaoud said in the video that he had been homeless, vomiting because of a lack of access to insulin and unable to speak the language in Iraq. He also said he had been kicked while sleeping in the street.

“I begged them,” he said of his conversations with ICE agents. “I said, ‘Please, I’ve never seen that country, I’ve never been there.’ However, they forced me.”

Background on the Chaldean Catholic deportations:

The Trump administration has sought to deport more than 1,000 Iraqis with final orders of removal, including Chaldean Catholics in the Detroit metro area, of which Aldaoud was one. Chaldeans are an eastern branch of the Roman Catholic church who trace their roots to ancient Mesopotamia in present-day Iraq, where they are at high risk of being tortured or killed by the the terror group ISIS, the American Civil Liberties Union argued in a related legal case.


Advocates point out that many Chaldeans targeted for deportation have spent years or decades in the U.S.

Everything about the story is sad, don’t you think? As presented, an innocent man who suffered from several illnesses and lived most of his life in the U.S., suddenly found himself caught up in the administration’s immigration practices and was sent to Iraq, where he died alone, apparently with no loved ones at his side. Except that’s not the whole story: 22 paragraphs into the report, Jimmy Aldaoud’s criminal history is very briefly mentioned:

According to the ACLU and a POLITICO search of court records, Aldaoud had a criminal conviction for disorderly conduct and served 17 months for a home invasion.

Here’s what Politico didn’t include in the mention:

Immigration officials, though, paint Aldaoud as a repeat criminal who violated court orders. iCE officials in Detroit, in a statement to The Post, say had 20 criminal convictions between 1998-2017, including several violent charges, and that he cut off a GPS device he was supposed to wear while on release from immigration custody.

“(His) immigration case underwent an exhaustive judicial review before the courts affirmed he had no legal basis to remain in the U.S.,” ICE’s Detroit office said in a statement, adding that he was sent back to Iraq with a “full complement of medicine.”

Additionally, a critical point was not mentioned as well:

He wasn’t a U.S. citizen, so those criminal convictions made him eligible to be deported. For decades, Iraq had refused to accept deportations from the United States — but that all changed in June 2017. As part of a deal to escape President Trump’s travel ban against a host of majority-Muslim nations, Reuters reported, Iraq agreed to accept deportees. More than 100 Iraqis with criminal records were arrested that month by ICE, mostly in Detroit.

Aldaoud was among those picked up and eventually taken to a federal detention center in Youngstown, Ohio, according to federal court records.

None of this is to say that what happened to Jimmy Aldaoud isn’t tragic on a number of levels. It’s awful, and his life shouldn’t have ended the way it did. I wish he had gotten the help he needed, both with his health needs and with immigration issues. But I’m focusing on the media’s framing of the issue. Because when a media outlet buries a critical piece of information in the 22nd paragraph as a way to mislead readers and advocate more effectively ( making readers believe he was just some random, innocent guy swept up and deported by evil Trump regime), it does more harm than good to the cause for which they are advocating. And it certainly reinforces the belief that mainstream media outlets use their platforms to advocate rather than just report. Better to be straight up about it all, I think.

Case in point: this was how Dan Zak, a journalist at the Washington Post, framed the story when he tweeted about it:


Given that he really doesn’t know how Aldaoud died, this would be incorrect, as well as misleading. Zak was corrected by a former reporter, who noted the inaccuracy, and asked him to retract the “likely cause of death” portion of his tweet, and correctly pointed out that “the actual cause of death has not been corroborated per those cited in the article.”


While Zak still has not deleted the tweet, he acknowledged his error (after taking a shot at the former journalist):

This person — despite the Stalinist rhetoric on his page about the national press being the enemy of the people — is correct here. I should not have stated his cause of death as definitive. I hope he reads the rest of this thread, as I have read his.

(Cross-posted at The Jury Talks Back.)


21 Responses to “22 Paragraphs”

  1. This is a reminder to always read everything with a critical eye. And then read it again.

    Dana (fdf131)

  2. How did anyone know to deport him to Iraq? Why not Greece? I guess I don’t understand how these things are determined, did the man ask to be deported to Iraq?

    Colliente (05736f)

  3. Colliente:

    Aldaoud was born in Greece after his family fled Iraq. Unlike the United States, Greece doesn’t recognize birthright citizenship, so Aldaoud was still considered an Iraqi citizen, even though he had never been there. The family moved to the United States in 1979, ICE officials said, settling in Michigan, where a sizable Chaldean community lives.

    Dana (fdf131)

  4. Greece does not have the Fourteenth Amendment. Citizenship is only through Greek citizen ancestry or naturalization. It’s likely his parents were there as refugees waiting for some country to take them or without status at all. See Giannis Antentokounmpo, for example.

    nk (dbc370)

  5. Heh!

    nk (dbc370)

  6. 1. Are you familiar with the “Gell-Mann Amnesia” principle? The Wikipedia article is a fascinating read.

    Gryph (08c844)

  7. It sure is, Gryph.

    It makes me wonder why Dan Zak, who acknowledges that he was wrong, won’t retract it?

    Dana (fdf131)

  8. Thanks for the explanations, sometimes we forget how lucky we are to live in this country.

    Colliente (05736f)

  9. It serves the narrative,

    Narciso (72d34b)

  10. 7. I’m really beginning to think that Gell-Mann amnesia is no accident. Some of the most odious jackals in the journalism industry today count on it for the continuance, and indeed the furtherance, of their careers.

    Gryph (08c844)

  11. There’s certainly enough examples that would make this not an altogether unreasonable view, Gryph.

    Dana (fdf131)

  12. I first saw the story through a Alyssa Milano tweet (that was retweeted by people I follow on the Twitter). It took me 5 seconds to Google the guys name and see the home invasion and the theft of 3 power drills story.

    He also defended himself in the theft case and was successful in getting his conviction overturned because the judge did not sufficiently warn him of the dangers of defending himself in court. (The 2015 decision here…)

    Xmas (eafb47)

  13. He also defended himself in the theft case and was successful in getting his conviction overturned because the judge did not sufficiently warn him of the dangers of defending himself in court.

    Apparently the new defense — and stop me if you have heard this one before — is that Aldaoud had “psychological issues” which caused him to act out. So 20 years of misbehavior was all just apparently undiagnosed mental problems or something. Had he gotten around to serious assault or other mayhem, I’m sure his victim would have felt a lot better knowing that it was nothing personal, just his inner demons.

    JVW (54fd0b)

  14. On the whole, I don’t disagree with you, JVW. At the same time I feel badly for how this person’s life ended. I don’t know how much his mental illness influenced his poor decision making, or what could have been done to help him. He clearly met the qualifications for deportation, and his removal may have protected lives here. I must be an old softie, because in spite of this, I found it to be a tragic way for a life to end.

    Dana (fdf131)

  15. They love criminal aliens more than they love law abiding Americans.

    NJRob (c2b5ce)

  16. An easy call by ICE. The guy was a career criminal.

    Paul Montagu (35419a)

  17. ICE dude in the photo is kind of wobbly, with that keffiyah, did he forget to change from an undercover assignment? But that’s not as bad or risky as ICE agents eating at a Carnitas shop, as what Chicago Twitter was telling me yesterday. So much bad can happen when pork is involved.

    urbanleftbehind (15a3e9)

  18. Chaldeans are Christian’s ulb probably up with copts for longevity.

    Narciso (cd4ece)

  19. The media lies so consistently and so brazenly now that conservative news sites and blogs are turning into full-time Newsbusters.

    I fear the efforts to get the truth out are a drop in the ocean. You read comments on non-political sites and the people are just brainwashed.

    harkin (6ddbda)

  20. The rules keep evolving but we know some for sure.

    “The motive may never be known, and authorities caution that evidence is still under review” applies to some, while “white supremacy is suspected n the shooting that happened an our ago,” applies to others.

    “The ICE arrest puzzled his family and friends,” means 20 lines down, “the prior convictions and incarceration,”

    “Violence erupted at Trump rally,” means 30 lines down, “Police say that the Socialist Worker member punched a man wearing a Trump hat…”

    “Trump rants,” while “Obama rebuked,”

    “”without evidence,” meaning “we haven’t looked but if you do you’ll probably find it.”

    Its like one has to read 4 diff sources to piece the facts together.

    Harcourt Fenton Mudd (0c349e)

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