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Flopping Aces continues to follow the stories on recent violence in Iraq.
But lost amidst the growing uproar over who Jamil Gholaiem Hussein is (which in any case offers little insight to the accuracy of his claims) are the more pertinent points reported from over the weekend.
From morning until afternoon, at least four mosques were attacked in Hurriya, a mixed neighborhood in the capital. Two were destroyed, and at least 5 Sunnis were killed and 10 wounded, an Interior Ministry official said. A hard-line Sunni Arab group, the Muslim Scholars Association, said 18 people had been killed when one of the mosques burned down.
Here's CENTCOMs response. Eighteen people burned to death seems more significant than six, but note the source of the claim - the Muslim Scholars Association - the same folks who ultimately claimed 184 Sunni Mosque attacks in the wake of the Shrine bombing months ago.
To accept these stories as fact, you must accept that the Sunnis are unarmed and/or not willing to put up any fight when Shiites enter their neighborhoods to burn their mosques down with people inside them. That goes against most of what I hear about Iraq today (everyone has an AK 47 and each neighborhood has a militia), and the Muslim world in general (mosques are sacred locations) but I suppose it's possible that's not completely accurate.
Video of the destroyed mosques would certainly bolster the media claims. Since even in Iraq people carry cell phones with video capability, and since most terrorist groups video their acts, video of the attacks should be widely available on line any time now, but even video taken tomorrow of the aftermath would be compelling evidence.
A Times correspondent in Ramadi said at least 15 homes were pulverized by aerial bombardment and families could be seen digging through the ruins with shovels and bare hands.CENTCOM says it didn't happen. So to counter them, show footage of the 15 recently pulverized homes.
The death tolls may always fall into the unverifiable category, and the bona fides of an Iraqi Police Captain will be difficult to prove, but there are some more obvious elements of all these stories that could be supported - if not absolutely proven - with simple video.
Too dangerous? Hell, in these cases the US military might be willing to provide security for the media to go out and get the footage. Couldn't hurt to ask, then both sides of the dispute could see the reality together.
Or we can just pretend the important thing is the identity of Jamil Gholaiem Hussein.
I'm frankly interested in seeing the Associated Press cough up an excuse for not presenting a Captain in the Iraqi Police. Because it seems fairly likely that he either doesn't exist at all or that he's definitely not a Captain in the Iraqi Police.
And the explanation given so far, that the "reporter" cum stringer "met" with the "capt." in an Iraqi Police Station, doesn't pass the smell test. If this were the journalistic standard for verifying identities then I should be able to pass myself off as a Supreme Court Justice by talking to a reporter somewhere in Washington D.C. or it's environs.Posted by ed at November 30, 2006 03:21 AM
The accuracy of the burned Sunnis story is important, but Hussein's identity is also important, as it raises much broader questions.
If Hussein is not who he says he is, the AP would be bound to go back and examine years of reporting. If Hussein is not who he says he is, the AP may have to investigate the seemingly sole reporter who used him as a source... and all of that reporter's stories. If Hussein is not who he says he is -- and given the AP's reliance on another source at the same police station who was not a policeman (now wanted for questioning) -- then what assurance do AP consumers have that the other sources are who they claim to be? Even if the AP shot video of a burned mosque or four, whould we know whether they had been burned in other incidents?
Why not use a videophone to show the world Hussein? And someone from the Iraqi gov't vouching for him?
Even if the burned Sunni story is substantiated, if it was presented by a bogus source, the AP has a serious problem that runs much deeper than this one story.Posted by Karl at November 30, 2006 05:49 AM
Am I missing something? In the original slew of stuff I though I read that there was NO POLICE REPORT of the burnings of six people to death?
Now it seems to me that if CAPTAIN JAMIL HUSSEIN PERSONALLY WITNESSED THIS EVENT, he would feel some professional obligation to file a police report, n'est pas?
The AP dragging up a grand total of 3 people who "saw it happen", while interesting, is still not terribly impressive.
I am still confused about why an "official" of the police department "saw" this happen and there is, apparently, no "official" report that it ever happened.
What is going on here?
And as GH said, the identity of Hussein is not the central issue. The news stories all said either 4 or 5 mosques were DESTROYED.
But they weren't. Destroyed, that it. The AP hasn't addressed that little issue.Posted by Cassandra at November 30, 2006 09:00 PM
Sorry. Left my reading glasses off again. Not terribly helpful when you can't type :)Posted by Cassandra at November 30, 2006 09:02 PM
You can't expect photographic proof so soon -- the photoshop process takes time to be completed correctly.
Of course AP could just name the precinct or unit the good Capt. Jamil is with....
Yes, very simple rules that take little extra time or effort leads to media transparency. One does wonder why they do not do those simple things?Posted by ajacksonian at December 1, 2006 07:44 PM Hide Comments | Show/Add Comments in Popup Window(6) | (Note: You must refresh main page to view newly posted comments here)