Marc Danziger’s post on Jam(a)il Hussein was pretty densely packed with information, and assumed a lot of familiarity with the story. I think a lot of people may have missed the takeaway points; I know I did. It took a phone call with Marc before it really sunk in what we do and do not have. Let me try to summarize.
If you have any faith in Marc’s sources — local Iraqi reporters working up the story — here is what they’ve found. There are three takeaway points. Let’s look at them one at a time.
First and foremost:
- Four mosques were not burned.
The AP would like you to forget it — YOU ARE GET-TING VERRRY SLEEEEPY! — but they did, in fact, make this claim:
The savage revenge attack for Thursday’s slaughter of 215 people in the Shiite Sadr City slum occurred as members of the Mahdi Army militia burned four mosques and several homes while killing 12 other Sunni residents in the once-mixed Hurriyah neighborhood, [police Capt. Jamil] Hussein said.
Which four mosques were supposedly burned, according to the AP?
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.
The military checked it out, and said it wasn’t true:
Contrary to recent media reporting that four mosques were burned in Hurriya, an Iraqi Army patrol investigating the area found only one mosque had been burned in the neighborhood.
Even this is confused, because the military press release appears to discuss a mosque not named in the AP story: Al Meshaheda. (h/t See Dubya.)
Even if the military were talking about the same four mosques, would our lefty friends believe the military anyway? Well, maybe our lefty friends at the AP would. You see, even the AP‘s Kathleen Carroll seems to have backed off of the “four burned mosques” story. If you look at the AP response to critics, you’ll see a repeated insistence that the story was accurate — in part because they have evidence of one burned mosque.
Shorter Kathleen Carroll:
We stand by our reporting that four mosques were burned. A mosque was, in fact, burned. What do you mean, four? Who said four? Did I say four?
Well, Marc’s sources say that “Capt. Jamil Hussein” was not right about these four mosques having been burned — and that photographic evidence may be on the way:
[T]wo different sources in Hurriyah confirm that at least two of the mosques in question are just fine, are standing strong, a couple of bullet marks on them, but that’s nothing out of the ordinary. We also hear that they are closed for worship from fear of retaliatory attacks. There are two other mosques there that were claimed to have been attacked (the claim was later reduced to one) and we’ll see if we can get some pictures of them all . . .
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.
OK . . . so Marc’s post claims (if you believe his sources) that “Capt. Jam(a)il Hussein” was wrong about the four burned mosques. That’s not terribly surprising, when you look at Marc’s takeaway point number two:
- Marc has found no evidence of a Capt. Jamil Hussein
This one is dicier, but I don’t want to go into the reasons right now. I want to talk to Marc about it more. Suffice it to say that I think his journalists need to do more checking. Hint: aren’t al-Khadra and Karrada different places? (And while you’re looking at maps, look at See Dubya’s map on the ubiquitous Jamil Hussein.)
Takeaway point number three:
- There is a Sergeant Jamail Hussein at the Yarmouk station — and he’s a nasty sort
Marc says that, according to his sources,
there is no Capt. Jamil Hussein at Yarmouk, but there is a Sergeant by that name, with a somewhat dubious reputation (worked directly under Uday, Baathist remnant, etc.)
Marc’s sources may be interviewing Sgt. Hussein and/or his superior(s) soon.
Now, if Sgt. Hussein turns out to be the AP source, this description of the Sergeant is going to need a lot more fleshing out — because, if true, it means that the AP was relying on a Baathist stooge. Put that one in the “Interesting, But Unsubstantiated” category.
The situation is complicated by a certain retracted Malkin post, and the reasons it was retracted. Supposedly, someone admitted to our military that he was the source. Then the military did a take-back. What happened there? Mistake? OPSEC issue? (h/t See Dubya, again.) You be the judge!
Yes, it’s all a bit cryptic — and nothing here is a full solution, I’ll grant you — but not a bad start, either . . . once you understand what we do and do not know.