The AP’s Pulitzer-Prize Winning Iraqi Insurgent

Assuming the allegations in the New York Times article are true, what is more disturbing- that the AP would be so careless with their background checking that they would employ Mr. Hussein, or that the work of an Iraqi insurgent does not immediately stand out among AP’s other reports?

The problems that arise from employing local reporters in Arab countries are not unique to Iraq. Does the name Talal Abu-Rahma ring any bells? (hat tip- S.A.)

The American military is sending an Iraqi photographer for The Associated Press it accuses of aiding the insurgency into Iraq’s criminal justice system, according to the American authorities and The A.P.The photographer, Bilal Hussein, was part of an 11-member team that won a Pulitzer Prize for breaking news photography in 2005. He has been detained without charge since April 2006.

A spokesman for the American military in Iraq, Maj. Brad Leighton, said Mr. Hussein was held after soldiers found explosive devices, insurgency propaganda and surveillance photographs of an installation for American-led forces during a routine patrol when they entered his apartment in 2006.

His lawyer, Paul Gardephe, said that the allegations were unfounded and that the American authorities had not disclosed any specific charges to be brought against Mr. Hussein. Mr. Gardephe said that in e-mail messages and other correspondence, military officials had alluded to further allegations, including that Mr. Hussein had made offers to provide false identity papers to an Iraqi sniper seeking to elude American custody, and that he had taken photographs so synchronous with bomb attacks that it seemed that he had prior knowledge of the attacks.

The Pentagon press secretary, Geoff Morrell, was quoted by The A.P. on Monday as saying that the military had “convincing and irrefutable evidence that Bilal Hussein is a threat to stability and security in Iraq as a link to insurgent activity.” He called Mr. Hussein “a terrorist operative who infiltrated The A.P.”

Mr. Gardephe said that the news agency had investigated Mr. Hussein’s work, which included interviews with Mr. Hussein, 36, and an examination of the 400 photographs he produced for The A.P., and that it had found no evidence supporting the military’s allegations.

Kathleen Carroll, executive editor of The A.P., said in an interview: “We believe that Bilal Hussein has been singled out because of his work as a journalist. While we are glad that there is finally some development that may lead to the end of his imprisonment without charges, we are concerned still about the lack of specificity against him. We have long said that Bilal Hussein was nothing more than a reputable A.P. journalist doing his job, and our position about that has not changed.”

Mr. Hussein owned a small electrical shop in Falluja, where he lived, when he was recommended to The A.P. and started working as a local fixer and guide before becoming a photojournalist. He covered the American invasion of Falluja in 2004 before being reassigned to Ramadi. The A.P. employs 200 people in Iraq, including reporters, photographers and television reporters, and the majority are Iraqis.

Mr. Hussein’s work focused on the effects of the war on Iraqi civilians, said Mr. Gardephe.

He was arrested in April 2006, when soldiers sought entry to his apartment in Ramadi during what they described as a routine search after an explosion on a nearby street. Military officials said they had found photographs of insurgents, which might be construed as propaganda, inside the apartment, Mr. Gardephe said.

Mr. Gardephe said that many part-time journalists working for foreign news agencies were arrested at that time in Anbar Province, but that while the others were released after four to five months Mr. Hussein had remained in detention. He has been kept at Camp Crocker near the Baghdad airport.

“They will not tell me what allegations they are planning to allege,” Mr. Gardephe said. “Nor do I know what evidence they have.”

The American authorities said they intended to file the charges this month. Mr. Hussein’s case would be heard before an investigative judge who would determine what evidence to consider and what witnesses to call, and whether the case should then pass to trial before three judges.

The only other journalist to be transferred to the Iraqi central criminal court, Mr. Gardephe said, was a CBS cameraman, Abdul Ameer Younis Hussein, who was arrested by the American military in March 2005 and held for a year. He was transferred to the Iraqi court in March 2006 and was acquitted that month, Mr. Gardephe said

6 Responses to The AP’s Pulitzer-Prize Winning Iraqi Insurgent

  1. [...] æä¾æå³çµå­å·¥&cce… wrote an interesting post today!.Here’s a quick excerpt Assuming the allegations in the New York Times article are true, what is more disturbing- that the AP would be so careless with their background checking that they would employ Mr. Hussein, or that the work of an Iraqi insurgent does not immediately stand out among AP’s other reports? The problems that arise from employing local reporters in Arab countries are not unique to Iraq. Does the name Talal Abu-Rahma ring any bells? (hat tip- S.A.) The American military is sending an Iraqi photograph [...]

  2. Harry says:

    So are you suggestiong that the new mottor for the MSM should be “We are all Quislings now”?

    It cracked me up, Richard.

  3. Phil says:

    Bilal Hussein:Pulitzer :: Yassir Arafat:Nobel

    I can just imagine this showing up on my kid’s SATs.

  4. Ed says:

    From the introduction to your blog, “theaugeanstables.com” I quote “… but more broadly with the many ways in which our media’s errors and our media’s extraordinary resistance to admitting their errors…”.

    You do understand that (why) this will never change, don’t you? The news media is a for profit, institution. In the media world “the first to break the story” wins at least in their minds. You see and hear it many times daily… “We (CNN, FOX, NBC, CBS, ABC etc, etc) were the first to break the _________ (fill in the blank) story!” Winning equals more money… to heck with accuracy! First wins, not accuracy!

    To admit inaccuracy is to loose money… and that is not the name of their game! The name of their game is winning… even at the cost of accuracy. Here’s the news media’s simple formula: FIRST = WINNING = MORE MONEY… SECOND = LOOSING = LESS MONEY. Taking the time to determine accuracy sacrifices FIRST PLACE. Admitting inaccuracy is suicidal, it’s tantimount to last place which equals no money!

    Hence, the News Media will never admit that they were wrong. That is why we need people like you to tell the truth to the few of us who believe the truth and want to hear it!

    Thank you very much for your work!
    Ed

  5. fp says:

    ed,

    that’s one of the themes i mentioned a few times around here. another aspect of corporate profit working against the american public interest.

    this system belabors under the illusion that you can have a corporate-based society in which the public interest can be served–like the media keeping accurate and holding the politicians (whom they bribe) to the fire. Dream, baby, dream.

    If you also take into consideration how corporations do security business with China and Saudia (US) and with Iran (UK), undermining their own nations, it is clear that they are a major factor bringing the west down the drain. Corporate media is a particularly obvious component.

    fp
    http://fallofknowledgeandreason.blogspot.com/

  6. [...] Professor Richard Landes asks a perceptive question: Assuming the allegations in the New York Times article are true, what [...]

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