The Real Story
So many of us have become desensitized to all of the horrible news that seems to come out of Iraq almost daily now. But last Friday, a story broke that still managed to shock everyone. According to the Associated Press, Shiite insurgents grabbed six Sunni men who were leaving their mosque, doused them with kerosene and then burned them alive. The insurgents then burned down four mosques and killed twelve more people.
That story was reported to the Associated Press by Captain Jamil Hussein of the Iraqi Police Department. He's the same police captain who's been a source of information for many of the most shockingly violent stories from Iraq over the last year -- like this one that was published by the Associated Press on April 30th.
"In yesterday's worst violence, the bodies of six handcuffed, blindfolded and tortured men were found in the Baghdad neighborhood of Dora, said police Captain Jamil Hussein."
Or this one, from the AP on May 27th: "Violence resumed Saturday as a bomb in a parked car exploded near a busy bus station killing at least four civilians and wounding seven, police Captain Jamil Hussein said."
These stories are just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to Captain Hussein, I counted 16 in just the last six months -- but the common denominator is that they all involve horrific violence. But the Real Story is that none of these events may have actually ever happened because Captain Hussein may not even exist!
According to this program's contact at the Iraq Joint Operations Center, Lieutenant Michael Dean, the Iraqi Government has no knowledge of this person being employed as a Baghdad police officer or as an official at the Ministry of Information. In addition, the military has said that neither the police nor the coalition forces have received any reports about six people being burned to death and they can confirm that only one mosque was burned, not four. I know; details, details.
But the AP has decided to stand by most of their original story, saying that a reporter has personally met Captain Hussein IN the police station. In response to that, just a few hours ago, the military sent us another statement, saying that the official spokesman of the Iraq Ministry of Information will lead off his next press conference with a statement saying that this man, if he even exists, has absolutely NO official capacity.
Aside from the obvious problem of major news outlets using, shall we say "questionable" sources - there's a bigger issue at play. The media, both in Iraq and here in the U.S. is one of our enemy's most powerful weapons. In fact it was the al-Qaeda terrorist al-Zawahiri who said that more than half of this battle is taking place in quote, "the battlefield of the media." It was also al-Zawahiri who said that we "ran" from Vietnam and that al-Qaeda should be prepared for when we run from Iraq.
Given that, would it really be surprising if al-Qaeda and others are feeding erroneous stories to our reporters? Of course not, and that means stories like the one about the burning bodies aren't just reporting about the war, they're part OF the war. They're the propaganda that our enemy is fighting with -- and, unfortunately, they're winning that battle! They're getting these stories right into our newspapers and, just like Vietnam -- that's taking away the greatest weapon we have: our resolve to fight...and win.