Information Warfare: AP Gets Caught Working For The Enemy

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November 30, 2006: Two blogs, Gateway Pundit  and Flopping Aces, have uncovered what appears to be a serious screw-up by the Associated Press in its coverage of Iraq. It appears that this American media outlet passed on terrorist propaganda, perhaps willingly. The mistake in question involves at least ten stories since April 27 in which a Captain Jemil Hussein was a source. Six of these stories involved alleged massacres of Sunni Arabs. Four others involved unknown victims. A second AP source in the Iraqi police, Lieutenant Maithem Abdul Rizzaq, is also proving to be nonexistent, according to Central Command and the Iraqi Ministry of the Interior. This is not the first time the media has been caught with bad stories and invented sources, but this is the most serious.

In 2005, media outlets ran with stories about the Koran being flushed by guards at Guantanamo Bay. These stories proved to be false - the flushing had been done by detainees. This had not come out until after a series of riots fanned by politicians across the Middle East led to several deaths. In another vein, claims of torture were made in public forums (most notably the floor of the United States Senate) and passed on. Later investigation not only failed to uncover such things, but discovered that in some of the very few cases where the line was crossed, there was provocation (such as spitting on a guard).

This also is bad when what the media omits is considered. For instance, the photos used by the media in various reports, as late as 2005, on the detainee camps, also took things out of context. The images used were of Camp X-Ray, a temporary camp that was replaced by Camp Delta in April, 2002. Camp Delta is on par with the latest correctional institutions in the United States. A detainee Time magazine profiled in 2005, was slated to be the 20th hijacker - the fifth person on Flight 93. Another detainee traveled to Pakistan in 1998 with an Iraqi intelligence officer to carry out an attack on the American and British embassies using  chemical weapons. Nor has the media mentioned the fact that at least a dozen detainees that have been released have gone back to fighting with al Qaeda. The media has also neglected to point out that al Qaeda manuals instruct members to make false claims of being tortured if they are captured.

What makes this new AP case so bad is the fact that the phony source could have been easily exposed, had the AP bothered to contact Central Command. Central Command's public affairs office has its phone number listed - along with an e-mail address. An e-mail address for Multinational Forces Iraq is also available. Yet the AP failed to check for at least ten stories. Failing to check a source once might fall into the category of an understandable mistake, but failing to check up on sources more than ten times is an incredible stretch. Central Command has informed the AP of these phony sources, but the AP is standing by its stories, claiming that they are using "a wide range of sources". This apparently includes phony sources.

Western media have long allowed themselves to be manipulated by Iraqi Sunni Arabs, largely because these media outlets opposed the overthrow of Saddam Hussein, and the Sunni Arab dictatorship that Saddam ran. The Sunni Arab minority (about 20 percent of the population in 2003, closer to ten percent now)  were not only running Iraq, but had long been the wealthiest and best educated segment of the population. Thus is was easy for pro-Sunni Arab Western and Arab journalists to find articulate (often English speaking) Iraqi Sunni Arabs to provide useful quotes and sound bites. With that experience, it was a short step to inventing Sunni Arab sources, which was more convenient. This is an old custom in journalism. For example, Time Magazine was long  known for its invented sources, and some avid Time fans would keep track of the names of sources quoted in the magazine, until they found the latest invented one. This was easy to do, because the same name showed up in different parts of the country, or the world, and in very different situations.

The current use of phony sources by AP has led to multiple reports that not only paint what appears to be a distorted picture of what is going on inside Iraq, but also reflects poorly on Iraqi police and Army personnel who are fighting terrorists. These reports, based on phony sources,  have also misled the American people. But then, many Americans already knew that, because troops in Iraq, usually reported a very different reality. The Associated Press is going to have some serious explaining to do. Those who want to get the straight scoop from Iraq should check out Central Command's newsroom website  or the Department of Defense's website. - Harold C. Hutchison (haroldc.hutchison@gmail.com)

 

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