AP Defends Its Reporting on ‘Mutilated’ Soldiers

By: Carl Sullivan

On Wednesday morning, the Associated Press defended its reporting Sunday on the deaths of two U.S. soldiers in Iraq which initially stated that the victims had had their throats slit. A number of newspapers and their Web sites carried the initial AP report Sunday and Monday, emphasizing the reported brutality in the case.

U.S. military officials later said there was no evidence that the soldiers’ bodies had been mutilated, and a Coalition spokesman blamed the AP Tuesday for spreading the disputed report (See Military Blames AP for Disputed Iraq Mutilation Story.)

The AP issued this statement to E&P Online early Wednesday morning:

“AP, along with other media, reported initially on Sunday morning, citing unidentified witnesses, that two soldiers had had their throats slit.

“AP quickly went to the scene and interviewed witnesses, who gave their names, and who said the soldiers had been shot and pummeled but had not had their throats slit.

“AP then file an updated report by Sunday afternoon saying that the initial reports had been wrong. The relevant passage from that version [filed at 5:44 p.m. ET] follows:

It was unknown whether the soldiers were alive or dead when pulled from the wreckage. Initial reports said the soldiers’ throats were cut. But another witness, teenager Bahaa Jassim, said the wounds appeared to have come from bullets.

“One of the soldiers was shot under the chin and the bullet came out of his head. I saw the hole in his helmet. The other was shot in the throat,’ Jassim said.

“The military refused to provide details about what happened, despite opportunities during a regular news briefing,” the AP added.

It appears that some newspapers never picked up the AP update filed late in the day Sunday.

Other media outlets, including Reuters, filed their own reports which also cited witnesses saying the soldiers’ throats had been slit.

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