Friday, December 08, 2006

Followup: A.P. Blasts Keyboard Commandos

The A.P. has responded, yet again, to attacks on its reporters in Iraq by the right wing blogosphere.

Searching Google for the name Jamil Hussein will give you an idea of what a cause celebre this has become with the right wing blogdiots. 9/10ths of the over 300k hits on Google are the wingnuts chest thumping about A.P. reporting. They will not let this one go, and A.P. will not back down either.

To briefly encapsulate, (as first posted here) A.P. reported the day after Thanksgiving that 6 Sunnis had been burned alive in Baghdad. They sourced the story to a Captain Jamil Hussein. The press office for the multinational forces in Iraq issued a statement saying that there was no Captain Jamil Hussein. A.P. then sent their reporters to double check the story, and confirmed the identity of their source.

Of course the Malkin types can't let this type of thing go. The constant sniping from the right has elicited this response from Kathleen Carrol, executive editor and senior vice president of A.P.
In recent days, a handful of people have stridently criticized The Associated Press’ coverage of a terrible attack on Iraqi citizens last month in Baghdad. Some of those critics question whether the incident happened at all and declare that they don't believe our reporting.

Indeed, a small number of them have whipped themselves into an indignant lather over the AP's reporting.

Their assertions that the AP has been duped or worse are unfounded and just plain wrong.

No organization has done more to try to shed light on what happened Nov. 24 in the Hurriyah neighborhood of Baghdad than The Associated Press.
Let me just point out here that no organization has done more to obfuscate the actual state of events in Baghdad and Iraq than the press office for the multinational forces in Iraq. The Iraq Study Group detailed how the military systematically underreported the actual number of attacks by saying that only about 1/10th of attacks were actually related to the war effort. Sectarian deaths by and large chalked up to ordinary criminality. Car bombs not directed at international forces are not reported at all. Stories positive to the multinational force are bought and paid for in Iraqi media. All this is documented, yet the koolaid drinking rightwing bloggers want us to believe the military has this one right, and A.P. has it wrong... and repeatedly so. On with the response by Carrol:
We have sent journalists to the neighborhood three different times to talk with people there about what happened. And those residents have repeatedly told us, in some detail, that Shiite militiamen dragged six Sunni worshippers from a mosque, drenched them with kerosene and burned them alive.

No one else has said they have actually gone to the neighborhood. Particularly not the individuals who have criticized our journalism with such barbed certitude.
Like THAT is ever going to happen! Michelle Malkin and her ilk would last about 30 seconds outside of the Green zone. Heck, to them the Empire State building is the war zone! Remember the summer "truth tour" by the rightwing talking heads in Iraq? Remember how they all split up and walked the streets of Baghdad and Fallujah talking with the ordinary Iraqi working folk who were all so thrilled with the newly painted schools and neighborhood power plants springing up through out the land? You don't remember that? THAT'S BECAUSE IT DIDN'T HAPPEN! Except in the koolaid-addled brains of the keyboard commandos... But I digress. Carrol continues:
The AP has been transparent and fair since the first day of our reporting on this issue.

We have not ignored the questions about our work raised by the U.S. military and later, by the Iraqi Interior Ministry. Indeed, we published those questions while also sending AP journalists back out to the scene to dig further into what happened and why others might be questioning the initial accounts.

The AP mission was to get at the facts, wherever those facts took us.

What we found were more witnesses who described the attack in particular detail as well as describing the fear that runs through the neighborhood. We ran a lengthy story on those additional findings, as well as the questions, on Nov. 28.

Some of AP's critics question the existence of police Capt. Jamil Hussein, who was one (but not the only) source to tell us about the burning.

These critics cite a U.S. military officer and an Iraqi official who first said Hussein is not an authorized spokesman and later said he is not on their list of Interior Ministry employees. It’s worth noting that such lists are relatively recent creations of the fledgling Iraqi government.

By contrast, Hussein is well known to AP. We first met him, in uniform, in a police station, some two years ago. We have talked with him a number of times since then and he has been a reliable source of accurate information on a variety of events in Baghdad.

No one – not a single person – raised questions about Hussein’s accuracy or his very existence in all that time. Those questions were raised only after he was quoted by name describing a terrible attack in a neighborhood that U.S. and Iraqi forces have struggled to make safe.
I guess this isn't good enough. We have to have the satellite truck beam the live feed directly from the war-torn Hurriyah neighborhood with Capt. Hussein's smiling countenance, holding a dated newspaper and showing proper I.D., to assure the Malkinorgs that Hussein is real. Hmmm... who do I trust more? A.P. reporters on the ground and reporting on the questions being raised by their own reporting, which they confirm as accurate? Or the hair brained wingnut bloggers who are so freaking convinced that is the military press never lies and reporters are all a bunch of commie libruls who love seeing Americans die die die!!... sorry getting carried away with my righty mindset. Let us skip forward in the letter...
The story of the burnings has gotten far more attention in the United States than in Iraq, where vicious torture and death are sadly commonplace. Dozens of Iraqi citizens are gunned down in their cars, dragged from their homes or blown apart in public places every single day.
There they go AGAIN! When will the media ever learn that Americans are sick and tired of hearing about the daily massacre, mass torture killings and death orgy that has become Iraq. Where are the stories about the schoolchildren sitting in their nice sectarianless, co-ed, shoolhouses singing Kum-by-Yah as the protective American warrior benevolently watches over them? We want the truth!
As careful followers of the Iraq story know well, various militias have been accused of operating within the Interior Ministry, which controls the police and has long worked to suppress news of death-squad activity in its ranks. (This is the same ministry that questioned Capt. Hussein’s existence and last week announced plans to take legal action against journalists who report news that creates the impression that security in Iraq is bad, “when the facts are totally different.”)
Don'cha love it when freedom of the press is crushed under the boot of occupation and military control? You can report the facts as we see them, and if you step out of line we will take "legal action"! Do you know why Al Arabiya and Al Jazeera do not have Baghdad correspondents? It's because the "sovereign" government of Iraq kicked them out for being biased. I love the smell of freedom in the morning.
The Iraqi journalists who work for the AP are smart, dedicated and incredibly courageous to go into the streets every day, talking to their countrymen and trying to capture a portrait of their home in a historic and tumultuous period.

The work is dangerous: two people who work for AP have been killed since this war began in 2003. Many others have been hurt, some badly.

Several of AP's Iraqi journalists were victimized by Saddam Hussein’s regime and bear scars of his torture or the loss of relatives killed by his goons. Those journalists have no interest in furthering the chaos that makes daily life in Iraq so perilous. They want what any of us want: To be able to live and work without fear and raise their children in peace and safety.

Questioning their integrity and work ethic is simply offensive.

It's awfully easy to take pot shots from the safety of a computer keyboard thousands of miles from the chaos of Baghdad.
OH SNAP!! Pot shots from the safety of the keyboard... that is as close to actually labeling the righties "keyboard commandos" as the mainstream media have ever come. Well done, Ms. Carrol... now let me advise you to be very careful of any suspicious envelopes delivered anonymously to you at the A.P. headquarters. Chances are the white powder will be harmless, but a few of those "commandos" are actually dangerous.

Let me draw this to conclusion by thanking any who have actually read all the way through this. It is lengthy, and perhaps a bit overwrought, but I think it's important enough to warrant some attention. We know the right wants to hush up the true state of affairs in Iraq and have actually been very successful at doing so. We must not let them intimidate the A.P. on this one.

You are welcome. It was a lively read actually. Well done.
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