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Friday, January 05, 2007 

Jamil Hussein - rumours of his non-existence have been greatly exaggerated..

Carnage from yesterday's car bombing of a petrol station in Mansour. New York Times report.

Unlike the search for Osama bin Laden, the search by right-wing blogger Michelle Malkin for Jamil Hussein, the supposed non-existent source for numerous AP reports of violence in Iraq has finished before it has even begun.

The saga began when AP reported that four mosques and six people had been set on fire by Shia militiamen in the Baghdad neighbourhood of Hurriyah. Both the Iraqis themselves and the US military then disputed that any of this had happened, while AP later corrected the story to one mosque. The main source for the report was one Captain Jamil Hussein, an Iraqi police officer who had been one of the main providers of information to AP from within the force itself, and had been doing so since 2004. An initial search by the Iraqi Ministry of the Interior, at the request of the US military, found no record of a Jamil Hussein at any Baghdad police station. Only later did another search find a Capt. Jamil Gholaiem Hussein, assigned to the Khadra police station, but it seems that the Iraqis then didn't bother to inform the US of their discovery.

Sensing blood, right-wing bloggers had something a field day, linking in their other dubious claims about the massacre at Qana during the Israel-Lebanon-Hizbullah war, the Reuters photographer who added smoke to a photograph for reasons known only to himself and claims since repudiated by Human Rights Watch that photographs of ambulances struck by Israeli missiles had been faked. Now that Hussein has been recognised by the Iraqi ministry of the interior as existing, Michelle Malkin and friends, instead of apologising, are as Tony Blair likes to do, moving on. In fact, it was always a side issue on Malkin's trip to Iraq itinerary anyway:

The "Jamil Hussein" story is one important item on our agenda, but not the only one. As Curt and other bloggers on this story have noted from the beginning, Jamilgate isn't just about "Jamil Hussein." Bryan and I plan to do as much on-the-ground reporting as we can to nail down unresolved questions--not only about Jamil Hussein and the Hurriya six burning Sunnis allegations, but also about the AP four burning mosque story discrepancies and the many other AP sources that our military has publicly challenged--including "Lt. Maitham Abdul Razzaq" and more than a dozen police officers listed by U.S. military spokesman Navy Lt. Michael Dean. There's also the issue of detained AP photographer Bilal Hussein. And we are looking forward to reporting first-hand on the security situation in Iraq outside the so-called "Green Zone" (International Zone) and talking to as many American and Iraqi Army troops with insights on these and other broader matters.

Well congratulations Michelle, now you've got more time to get shot at on Baghdad's streets with all the over "hajis", as Jamil Hussein himself now faces being arrested for risking his own safety helping a tremendously under stress news organisation report what is actually happening in Iraq. It also comes as one of AP's other Baghdad staff has been found dead, bringing to 4 the total killed since the beginning of the Iraq war, with 129 journalists in total having died.

There is of course nothing wrong with asking questions about news coverage, and wanting to get to the bottom of what seem like potentially wrong or misleading reports. However, as IraqSlogger points out in a measured piece, mistakes were made by all sides. AP may have been too hot-headed in defending its reporting, but surely now that it turns out Hussein is real it's easy to see why it was so defensive and dismissive of the rabid efforts by some to denounce their efforts to produce a true picture of the violence enveloping Iraq. Apologies all round would not go amiss, but none should be expected from Malkin and co.

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From the Wordsmith listserv

Word of the Day - Malkin

malkin (MO-kin, MAL-kin) noun

1. An untidy woman; a slattern.

2. A scarecrow or a grotesque effigy.

3. A mop made of a bundle or rags fastened to a stick.

4. A cat.

5. A hare.

[From Middle English Malkyn (little Molly), diminutive of the name Maud or Molly/Mary.]

A related word is grimalkin, referring to an old female cat or an ill-tempered old woman.

Well, it made me laugh.

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