AP Caught?

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The New York Times has picked up the story of the "police captain" that the AP quotes rather often, who appears to be a fake (the information appears in the Lede, one of the Times' blogs). The Iraqi government has formally stated that Jamil Hussein is not employed by the Iraqi police, nor is he a spokesman for anything.

Yesterday, the wire service moved a lengthy story in which they went back to the Hurriyah neighborhood in Baghdad where the immolation incident reportedly took place, and interviewed other witnesses, who corroborated the story.

(The piece also took a swipe at the military’s continuing dealings with message-massaging firms like the Lincoln Group.)

And so things stand today.

The one thing that remains unclear, though, is this: The Associated Press said in its story yesterday that Mr. Hussein “has been a regular source of police information for two years and had been visited by the AP reporter in his office at the police station on several occasions.” The military, meanwhile, seems to suggest that Mr. Hussein is not a police officer, nor a civil servant in the employ of any Iraqi agency.

So who IS Mr. Hussein?

Now, as one commenter said earlier, the AP may have already fulfilled its mission here by planting the false information. But if this continues to circulate, they will have damaged the only thing a news wire service must have – credibility. they could have actually done themselves real harm this time. One can but hope.

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