By: E&P Staff
(See correction at end) As reported elsewhere on this late this afternoon, Iraq’s Interior Ministry acknowledged Thursday that an Iraqi police officer whose existence had been denied by the Iraqis and the U.S. military — and mocked by conservative bloggers in the U.S. — is in fact an active member of the force, and said he now faces arrest for speaking to the media.
Ministry spokesman Brig. Abdul-Karim Khalaf, who had previously denied there was any such police employee as Capt. Jamil Hussein, said in an interview that Hussein is an officer assigned to the Khadra police station, as had been reported by The Associated Press — and as AP has reiterated over the past month in lengthy statements and in interviews with E&P (most recently on Wednesday).
The response from the U.S. military has been nil so far, but what about the conservative bloggers?
As recently as yesterday, Michelle Malkin, the best-known blog critic of Hussein’s existence, stated flatly “the fact that there is no police captain named ‘Jamil Hussein’ working now or ever in either Yarmouk or al Khadra, according to on-the-ground sources in Baghdad.” Late this afternoon, she posted part of the AP dispatch about the turn of events, with the comment, “Checking it out. Moving forward….”
She later sent a note to the blog of another Hussein doubter, Allahpundit, stating, “Just to clarify, I?m not apologizing for anything.”
Previously, in writing about his subject, Malkin had declared: “MSM credibility. R.I.P.”
Allahpundit, blogging at Hot Air, admitted, “She and we were wrong about Jamil Hussein. Whether we?re wrong about the rest of it, too, we?ll see. Apologies, though, to the HA readers for having led you on a bit of a wild goose chase, however well founded and well intended our suspicions were.”
But Patterico at Patterico’s Pontifications replied, “I see Allah is apologizing tonight for taking his readers on a wild goose chase. But I don?t think he?s done anything to apologize for.”
Dan Riehl, another blogging Hussein doubter, responded today, “Fascinating. But let me be the first to say to the Left, before they lose themselves in glee, I don’t see that bloggers have anything to apologize for, nor do I see this story being at an end.” He and others now promise to check out Hussein’s record as a source — now that they have to admit that he actually exists.
Curt at Flopping Aces, credited by Malkin with being first to break the story of the AP’s source likely non-existence, asked, referring to a line in the AP story about Hussein’s phone no longer working: “His phone was turned off? Interesting…..why would his phone be turned off all of a sudden? Would this mean he will once again NOT be produced for questioning?”
Also on the right, Ed Morrissey of Captain’s Quarters admitted, “This certainly tends to discredit the blogospheric attacks on AP if true, as well as the U.S. and Iraqi protestations.” But he raised “the question about the Iraqi intent to arrest Hussein. Why would they want to arrest him if he told the truth to the AP?”
Over at The Jawa Report: “Of course, the alternative to believing he might not exist is to be thoroughly convinced that he does exist despite the conflicting evidence. Anyone who thoroughly convinced themselves of Jamil Hussein’s existence despite the controversy is a credulous fool.”
A prime Jamil Hussein doubter, Jules Crittenden of the Boston Herald, had written on his blog on Tuesday, “If Jamil Hussein’s apparent failure to exist is ever acknowledged, it will be buried. The AP’s clients, by and large, don’t care. Nor do the ‘ethics’ gatekeepers in the business.”
Tonight he writes, “The existence of cops with several variations of the name Jamil Hussein of varying ranks in several police stations around Baghdad was reported by bloggers several weeks ago. None quite matched. I’d suggest the jury is still out on this guy.”
Confederate Yankee allowed, “As far as the AP’s story goes, it does raise some very interesting questions, and I think I’ll have a very entertaining weekend trying to make sense of it all.”
While a more neutral observer and journalist, Eason Jordan, at his new IraqSlogger site, just two days ago had declared that AP was now in a major “scandal.” He had earlier offered to fly Malkin and the Flopping Aces’ Dan to Baghdad, on his own dime, to search for Hussein.
Now at his site he says that all parties made mistakes in the matter, including AP for not resolving the issue sooner, and even points a finger at the imperiled police captain himself: “Since Jamil Hussein was willing to be quoted by the AP dozens of times, he should have come forward sooner to end the dispute about his existence.”
Brian Whitaker, Middle East editor at The Guardian of London since 2000, concludes his summary of the latest twist today this way: “Because of the number of reporters quoting Jamil Hussein, the bloggers were in effect alleging a generalised conspiracy by AP’s Baghdad staff to deceive the news-reading public – an idea so unlikely as to be almost incredible.
“Interestingly, something similar happened with the hoax allegations relating to the Lebanese ambulances. As the bloggers pursued their claims, the only way they could support their claims was by implicating more and more Red Cross workers in a conspiracy to deceive – a conspiracy that, in the end, existed only in their imaginations.
“Back in Iraq, the good news today is that Capt Jamil Hussein really does exist, and the interior ministry’s spokesman has finally and officially confirmed it. The bad news is that they have issued a warrant for his arrest for ‘having contacts with the media.’
“Congratulations, bloggers. He won’t be talking to AP again now.”
But Tom Zeller, Jr., who runs The New York Times’ blog called The Lede focused not on the positive I.D. of the police captain but on the “unanswered questions” about his reliability as a source, endorsing the conservative bloggers’ view that this “more substantive issue remains unresolved.”
Correction, Jan. 10: In the original version of this story, after accurately quoting Jules Crittenden for two paragraphs, we then quoted him saying something that actually came from a visitor to his blog, he informs us. We regret the error. That quote (deleted above) follows.
“Where the proof? All I’ve seen is just another round of assertions. How about a page out of an AP reporter’s notebook with a Jamil Hussein contact and info for a particular story on a particular day? Reporters are meticulous about their notebooks and retain them for years.”