[posted by Justin Levine – not Patterico]
Jamil Hussein has been found — just where the AP said he was: at the al-Khadra station. (H/t: Allah.) What’s more, he may be arrested.
The Interior Ministry acknowledged Thursday that an Iraqi police officer whose existence had been denied by the Iraqis and the U.S. military is in fact an active member of the force, and said he now faces arrest for speaking to the media.
Ministry spokesman Brig. Abdul-Karim Khalaf, who had previously denied there was any such police employee as Capt. Jamil Hussein, said in an interview that Hussein is an officer assigned to the Khadra police station, as had been reported by The Associated Press.
The captain, whose full name is Jamil Gholaiem Hussein, was one of the sources for an AP story in late November about the burning and shooting of six people during a sectarian attack at a Sunni mosque.
Plenty of questions like that remain unanswered. Still, the AP and crowing lefty bloggers will treat this as total vindication. That’s how the game is played: dumb it down to something simple like “Does Jamil Hussein exist?” and ignore the other issues.
Editor & Publisher begins the crowing here. (Thanks to Dave C.)
UPDATE: As I said two days ago:
While I want to know more about Jam(a)il Hussein, I continue to believe that it is a mistake to focus on his “existence” to the exclusion of focusing on the other problems with the AP story. I am primarily concerned with the fact that the initial AP story on the “burning six” reported that four mosques were burned.
Part of the reason I was concerned is that, while I have doubts about the AP story, I have had doubts all along about the nonexistence of Jamil Hussein. For example, when Marc Danziger said he had checked Yarmouk and Karrada for Jamil Hussein and hadn’t found him, I said:
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?
The reason I said this is because the AP had claimed Hussein is currently at al-Khadra — an area that is, I’m told, controlled by the mujahadeen, who have a tacit agreement with the police, according to a knowledgeable (non-military) source I have spoken to. The problem is, therefore, that it’s hard for someone to simply stroll into al-Khadra and check for the guy — despite the incorrect assumption by many people that the AP or Michelle Malkin could easily do so. (I had formerly held that false belief myself until my source set me straight.)
Another question that I’d like answered, now that the guy has been found: is he a “third way” Baathist holdover?
As Drudge says: developing . . .
UPDATE x2: I’ll also note that folks like Allah and myself were very suspicious when it turned out that CENTCOM had put the Ministry of the Interior’s spokesman on a working list of unverified sources — one that was released to the media. This caused me to say on November 30:
If CENTCOM had the name of the official spokesman for the Ministry of the Interior on its working blacklist — and, as Allah points out, garbled his name in e-mails about the press conference — what does that say about the military’s claims regarding Jamil Hussein?
This does not inspire confidence.
(Emphasis in original.)
My point is that the lefties will portray the conservative blogosphere as having uniformly gone off half-cocked on this story. But I don’t think that’s true. You bet I was suspicious of Jam(a)il Hussein’s claims — and I still am — but I was also suspicious of the claims of his non-existence.
I see Allah is apologizing tonight for taking his readers on a wild goose chase. But I don’t think he’s done anything to apologize for. He’s been very careful and appropriately suspicious of all sides at all times. And most of his previous suspicions of the AP are still quite valid today.
UPDATE x3: It’s quite clear that Jamil Hussein will not be prosecuted for speaking to the media. The linked story says:
Khalaf said Thursday that with the arrest of Hussein for breaking police regulations against talking to reporters, the AP would be called to identify him in a lineup as the source of its story.
Should the AP decline to assist in the identification, Khalaf said, the case against Hussein would be dropped. He also said there were no plans to pursue action against the AP should it decline.
I have absolutely no doubt that the AP will decline. So, make no mistake: any lefty handwringing over the government’s alleged crushing of dissent is either ignorant or, more likely, pure posturing.
UPDATE x4: Initial link fixed. I mistakenly posted the E&P link twice. The first link was supposed to be to the AP story.
UPDATE x5: Commenter m.croche notes that I did, initially (on November 27), accept the military/Ministry of the Interior claim that Jamil Hussein was not with the Iraqi police or the MOI. I didn’t say he didn’t exist, or that the AP had made him up; rather, I speculated that he could be an insurgent posing as a policeman. I got a lot more suspicious three days later (November 30), when the MOI spokesman showed up on the list of unverified sources.
If anything, this is a reminder to be skeptical of everything, regardless of the source. I think many of us assumed that MOI knew what they were talking about at first. That was a bad assumption. Thanks to croche for noting that.
UPDATE x6: Editor & Publisher has a dishonest hit piece up right now. It calls Allahpundit and me “Hussein doubters” — which is deceptive, given that, as shown by the above, we were among the more cautious of the conservatives who blogged about this issue. If anything, we were doubters of conservatives’ claims regarding Hussein, as well as of the AP story in general. E&P also falsely implies that I backed up Allah for his doubts on Hussein, when in fact I backed up Allah for being skeptical about conservatives’ claims regarding Hussein. Up is down. Black is white.
Naturally, E&P ignores the lingering questions, which I address in this post.
I’m reluctant to say more. It’s inevitable that, when you defend yourself — even against an unfair attack — the fact that you are defending yourself makes you sound, well, defensive.
Rule Number One of respectful argument is to phrase your opponent’s argument — the argument you’re responding to — in such a way that your opponent would agree with it.
The rule, when followed, has at least two benefits. First, helps to ensure that the argument is about actual issues, rather than a spiraling series of accusations that the other guy is misrepresenting your position, and vice versa. Second, it forces you to think a little more about what the other guy believes, and why.
This rule is nice in theory, but is almost never observed in practice. Ninety-nine percent of argument either misstates the opponent’s argument, or at least gives it a crabbed interpretation that the opponent would not recognize as his own.
I’d like to encourage us to try to do better here. Recognize the rule and try to follow it.
It’s hard, I know; I’m sure I violate this rule all the time. But it’s a good goal.