The United States does not want its’ citizens to know the truth about what is happening in Iraq or in Afghanistan.

War is often confusing, frustrating, hair-trigger-tense, and excessively deadly. Or in other words, war is very ugly. Many people are killed through honest mistakes made by well-trained men with a lot of firepower. There are friendly fire deaths, mistaken targets, and all sorts of things that just happen when you send in Billions of Dollars worth of armaments and people trained in how to use them.

Do not mistake this for an indictment of the fighting men and women of the U.S. Armed Forces, they are doing the best they can in most cases except for the occasional criminal in uniform. In a job where your goal is to kill as many of the enemy as possible and the enemy is often carefully disguised and cunning you will end up killing many innocents. It is not the fault of the men and women in uniform who want to do the best they can and go home to their families when their tour of duty is up.

Dick Cheney visited Afghanistan and a bomb went off while he was there. In the commotion surrounding the event several people were killed and some people videoed the event. Their camera was confiscated and the information was deleted before the cameras were returned.

In 2003 when Iraq was starting their TV station, but the U.S. Administrators in Iraq wanted some political oversight of the content of the station.

Now in 2006 after a track record of being a reliable source for the Associated Press, the existence of one Jamil Hussein has been officially confirmed. He was an Iraqi Police source and his existence was denied by official Iraqi and U.S. Military sources. Blogress Michelle Malkin flatly denied that he was real.

For some reason, this story brought the issue to the forefront. Specifically the portion of the story about a mosque being attacked and burned. Six men were brought outside blindfolded, handcuffed, then doused with kerosene and burned alive. Michelle Malkin attacked the veracity of the story as did Flopping Aces. The U.S. Military asked the AP for a retraction or correction to the story.

This caused the AP to further clarify and certify the story, which they did. Perhaps the most explosive part of the story is that members of the Mahdi Army (believed to have infiltrated the Iraqi police) were responsible for the attack, in a part of Baghdad. This does not look good for control of Iraq if things like this are still happening in Baghdad. As background information, the Mahdi Army is loyal to Muqtada al-Sadr and they are Shiites. They attacked a Sunni Mosque. The religious factions are not getting along.

In the more detailed and re-confirmed story confirmed by their police captain source and three other people among others who were afraid to talk, fifty men in black began marching in the streets at about 2pm that day. A few vehicles with armed men pulled up and they attacked and set the Mosque on fire.

Then, the witnesses said, the attackers brought out six men, blindfolded and handcuffed, and lined them up on the street at the gate of the mosque. The witnesses said the six were doused with kerosene from a 1.3-gallon canister and set on fire at intervals, one after the other, with a torch made of rags. The fifth and sixth men in the line were set afire at the same time.

The witnesses said the burning victims rolled on the ground in agony until apparently dead, then the gunmen fired a single bullet into each of their heads.

The witnesses said residents, in the meantime, had taken up arms and began a gunbattle with the suspected militiamen that raged in the neighborhood until 4 p.m. They said eight to 10 gunmen were killed and left in the streets. Iraqi law allows each household to own an AK-47 assault rife for protection.

Not a pretty picture at all.

It turns out that the Associated Press was right about the story and about the existence of their source. When authorities finally verified the existence of the source, a warrant was issued for his arrest for speaking with the press. Ministry spokesman Brig. Abdul-Karim Khalaf was responsible for disseminating this information.

The Editor and Publisher story is worth quoting at length for illustrating the nature of the cover up and efforts to challenge the AP story.

Khalaf offered no explanation Thursday for why the ministry had initially denied Hussein’s existence, other than to state that its first search of records failed to turn up his full name. He also declined to say how long the ministry had known of its error and why it had made no attempt in the past six weeks to correct the public record.

Hussein was not the original source of the disputed report of the attack; the account was first told on Al-Arabiya satellite television by a Sunni elder, Imad al-Hashimi, who retracted it after members of the Defense Ministry paid him a visit. Several neighborhood residents subsequently gave the AP independent accounts of the Shiite militia attack on a mosque in which six people were set on fire and killed.

Khalaf told the AP that an arrest warrant had been issued for the captain for having contacts with the media in violation of the ministry’s regulations.

Hussein told the AP on Wednesday that he learned the arrest warrant would be issued when he returned to work on Thursday after the Eid al-Adha holiday. His phone was turned off Thursday and he could not be reached for further comment.

Hussein appears to have fallen afoul of a new Iraqi push, encouraged by some U.S. advisers, to more closely monitor the flow of information about the country’s violence, and strictly enforce regulations that bar all but authorized spokesmen from talking to media.

During Saddam Hussein’s rule, information in Iraq had been fiercely controlled by the Information Ministry, but after the arrival of U.S. troops in 2003 and during the transition to an elected government in 2004, many police such as Hussein felt freer to talk to journalists and give information as it occurred.

As a consequence, most news organizations working in Iraq have maintained Iraqi police contacts routinely in recent years. Some officers who speak with reporters withhold their names or attempt to disguise their names using different variants of one or two middle names or last names for reasons of security. Hussein, however, spoke for the record, using his authentic first and
last name, on numerous occasions.

His first contacts with the AP were in 2004, when the current Interior Ministry and its press apparatus was still being formed out of the chaotic remains of the Saddam-era ministry.

The information he provided about various police incidents was never called into question until he became embroiled in the attempt to discredit the AP story about the Hurriyah mosque attack.

Lt. Col. Christopher Garver, a U.S. military spokesman in Baghdad, said Thursday that the military had asked the Interior Ministry on Nov. 26 if it had a policeman by the name of Jamil Hussein. Two days later, U.S. Navy Lt. Michael B. Dean, a public affairs officer with the U.S. Navy Multi-National Corps-Iraq Joint Operations Center, sent an e-mail to AP in Baghdad saying that the military had checked with the Iraqi Interior Ministry and was told that no one by the name of Jamil Hussein worked for the ministry or was a Baghdad police officer.

Dean also demanded that the mosque attack story be retracted.

The text of the Dean letter appeared quickly on several Internet blogs, prompting heated debate about the story and criticism of the AP.

At the weekly Interior Ministry briefing on Nov. 30, Khalaf cited the AP story as an example of why the ministry had decided to form a special unit to monitor news coverage and vowed to take legal action against journalists who failed to correct stories the ministry deemed to be incorrect.

At the time Khalaf said the ministry had no one on its staff by the name of Jamil Hussein.

“Maybe he wore an MOI (Ministry of Interior) uniform and gave a different name to the reporter for money,” Khalaf said then. The AP has not paid Jamil Hussein and does not pay any news sources for information for its stories.

On Thursday, Khalaf told AP that the ministry at first had searched its files for Jamil Hussein and found no one. He said a later search turned up Capt. Jamil Gholaiem Hussein, assigned to the Khadra police station.

But the AP had already identified the captain by all three names in a story on Nov. 28– two days before the Interior Ministry publicly denied his existence on the police rolls.

Khalaf did not say whether the U.S. military had ever been told that Hussein in fact exists. Garver, the U.S. military spokesman, said Thursday that he was not aware that the military had ever been told.

Khalaf said Thursday that with the arrest of Hussein for breaking police regulations against talking to reporters, the AP would be called to identify him in a lineup as the source of its story.

Should the AP decline to assist in the identification, Khalaf said, the case against Hussein would be dropped. He also said there were no plans to pursue action against the AP should it decline.

He said police officers sign a pledge not to talk to reporters when they join the force. He did not explain why Jamil Hussein had become an issue now, given that he had been named by AP in dozens of news reports dating back to early 2006. Before that, he had been a reliable source of police information since 2004 but had not been quoted by name.

At least is appears that the AP’s source will not be punished this time for talking to the press, but it makes it rather unlikely that he will talk in the future. Mission Accomplished.

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