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Information Warfare: Mass Media Caught Lying About Iraq
   

January 5, 2007: The Associated Press has again put out an Iraq  story detailing events that did not happen. This time, it involves an airstrike that, " killed a family of four during a firefight." However, according to the press desk of Multi-National Forces-Iraq, no air strike happened during that firefight, and MNF-I also reported that which six insurgents were killed by American troops in Baghdad on January 1. This is the second time in roughly six weeks that the AP has been caught fabricating events.

In November, the AP's report of six people being burned by in an attack on a mosque, cited a Captain Jemil Hussein of the Iraqi police. This report was challenged by Central Command and the Iraqi Ministry of the Interior, who pointed out that they had no record of a Jemil Hussein in their initial searches. The AP has stood by the story, yet this questionable Iraqi police official has not been quoted once since the story was questioned - despite being used in dozens of stories prior to the controversy. After several weeks of investigating, several blogs, including Flopping Aces, found very little evidence that Captain Hussein existed - until the AP reported that an arrest warrant was issued by the Ministry of the Interior for Hussein, whose phone has conveniently been turned off.

This is the latest media scandal involving phony news. In August, Reuters had to pull photographs that had been doctored to create the appearance that Israeli air strikes in Lebanon were doing more damage. Other photos taken during the summer fighting were discovered to have been staged by Hezbollah. In 2005, media reports that guards at Guantanamo Bay had flushed a Koran turned out to have no basis in fact (the actual flushing was done by detainees).

This pattern of misreporting is being noticed by blogs, most notably Flopping Aces (www.floppingaces.net). One of the Iraqi reporters for the AP, Quais Abdul Raazzaq was recently interviewed, and made statements that appeared to be biased. Other blogs have been digging deeper into some of the reporting. And the skepticism about media reporting about Iraq seems to be increasing. In December, the Gallup Poll reported that 56 percent of Americans believe the mainstream media's reporting of the situation in Iraq is inaccurate.

The continued stonewalling by the Associated Press is only going to make matters worse for them. Not only are bloggers sniffing around and posting their findings, but the call for an investigation is growing louder. With the AP now making up an air strike, it seems the case of Jemil Hussein was not isolated, but instead part of a pattern of misreporting and a focus on milestone casualties (the United States recently suffered its 3000th casualty) rather than signs of progress. Reports from the AP regarding Iraq clearly cannot not be trusted. For accurate information, people can turn to the newsrooms of Multi-National Force-Iraq (www.mnf-iraq.com) and Central Command (www.centcom.mil). - Harold C. Hutchison (haroldc.hutchison@gmail.com)