Curt over at Flopping Aces has been an absolute bulldog on this phony police captain that the AP has quoted repeatedly. Despite the Iraqi government itself telling the world that this captain does not work for the police and has no authorization to speak for the government or police, the AP refuses to correct their story. (Curt also got mentioned in the New York Times blog, BTW).
At the end of the day, we have AP journalists with reporting and images from the actual neighborhood versus official spokesmen saying the story cannot be true because it is damaging and because one of the sources is not on a list of people approved to talk to the press. Good reporting relies on more than government-approved sources.
We stand behind our reporting.
Typically they ignore the bigger point here. There is absolutely NO proof that this incident occurred. They first told the world that four mosques were burnt to the ground and six men were burned alive. Then when they discovered (via Centcom and us bloggers) that four mosques were not burned, only one was and that one slightly, they changed the original story. They relied 3 sources who will not go on record, two that will. One of those has retracted his statement and the other (Jamil Hussein) has been shown to have lied about his employment.
The AP has no other evidence that this event occurred.
They, in fact, have a blown source for the original story. Their followup several days later is meaningless since people have had time to rehearse answers. The longer you wait to interview, the less reliable the sources are. The fact that the witnesses all refused to be named also casts a great deal of doubt. Curt's quite right, the AP story stinks and they are not addressing the real issues with their statements. They are sidestepping and shifting focus.
UPDATE: Confederate Yankee has the issue boiled down: it is not just this one incident. It is a pattern, a systemic failure.