Michelle Malkin, upset that she got completely humiliated by Dr. Aristophanes and Dr. Gavin, issues a challenge:
Tellingly, the pathetic, attempted debunker fails to link to either my post at mm.com or my full report at the NYPost, which give the full details and nuance (plus more photos) of what we found versus what the AP reported (and didn’t report). There is now an all-too-predictable attempt to distort our reports. Read. Them. In. Their. Entirety. For. Yourselves.
Gavin adds: Criminy, it’s that certain tone of voice which has by now become so familiar. I want to pop in here for a moment to respond to a charge levied by Bryan over at Hot Air:
I see that our friends at Sadly, No! canâ€™t distinguish between a mosque having a hole in an onion-shaped thing on top and that mosque being destroyed, as the AP reported on Nov 24. That failure to distinguish between such widely varying descriptions should guide you if you read anything else published there.
mosque being destroyed hole in an onion-shaped thing.
I believe this settles the point.
WELL, the Iraqi Ministry of Interior says disputed Associated Press source Jamil Hussein does exist. But at least one story he told the AP just doesn’t check out: The Sunni mosques that as Hussein claimed and AP reported as “destroyed,” “torched” and “burned and [blown] up” are all still standing. So the credibility of every AP story relying on Jamil Hussein remains dubious.
So Michelle’s main claim here is that these mosques were not “burned” or “torched” or “blown up” (incidentally, I couldn’t find any version of the AP report where it specifically said the mosques were “destroyed.” If anyone can find one, please leave a linky to it in the comments). Just keep that in mind when you read this later in her piece:
One of the mosques identified by the AP, the Nidaa Alah mosque, had been abandoned and vacant at the time it was hit with small-arms fire, say Iraqi and U.S. Army officials. Two of its inside rooms were burned out by a lobbed firebomb, according to an Army report.
Three other mosques in the area – the al Muhaymin, al Mushahiba and Ahbab Mustafa mosques – sustained small-arms fire damage to their exteriors; the Mustafa mosque also had two rooms burned out by a firebomb.
So other than the small-arms fire damage and the rooms burned out by firebombs, I guess the mosques were in just dandy shape!
And now let’s go to the original AP report about the rampaging militias:
Earlier that day, rampaging militiamen burned and blew up four mosques and torched several homes in the capital’s mostly Shia neighborhood of Hurriyah, police said. Iraqi.
You could quibble, I suppose, that the writer should have said the mosques were “burned or blown up” since it’s not clear (at least the way Michelle tells it) that all four mosques were firebombed. But since Michelle only visited two of the mosques herself (and one of them had a huge frickin’ hole blown out the top of it!), we don’t really know for sure.
Now let’s step back for a minute and look at the Big Picture here. Pretend, if you will, that you’re the insurer for one of these mosques. And let’s say the mosque owner calls you and says, “Hey, Ms. Malkin, I’d like to file a damage claim for one of our mosques.”
And you say, “OK, how bad is the damage.”
And he says, “Oh, it’s not bad at all. I think you guys will be able to cover it just fine.”
And you say, “OK, so it sounds minor. It’s not like it’s been blown up or anything, right?”
And he says, “Well, except for the firebombs that got lobbed in and burned out two rooms, no.”
And you say, “Oh.”
And he says, “Oh, and there’s a large-ass gaping hole in the top of the dome.”
And you say, “Uh…”
And he says, “But really, it’s not that bad!”
And so on. And so forth.
Now, let’s go onto some of the other little jewels in Michelle’s New York Post piece:
When the AP ran its head- line-grabbing and horrifying account of alleged atrocities in Baghdad last Thanksgiving, its main source was an Iraqi police captain, one Jamil Hussein.
Bloggers led by Curt of Flopping Aces (floppingaces.net) raised questions about the veracity and existence of Hussein and the information he supplied to the AP. U.S. military officials and the Iraqi government initially disputed that Hussein was employed as a legitimate police officer.
Uh, he didn’t just “dispute” it, Michelle. He flat-out claimed that the guy wasn’t for real. And as you yourself wrote, “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.” And when it turned out that Jamil really did exist, you just chalked it up as a minor “oopsie” and went on to post your usual manufactured outrage about Barney Frank saying mean things about the poor defensewess pweisident.
Now, let’s cut to the chase. As I see it, the major point Michelle is trying to make with this whole shriekfest is this:
[T]he soldiers say this particular story doesn’t stand up. And if this one doesn’t, how many others don’t? As AP exec Carroll herself said, “AP runs hundreds of stories a day, and has run thousands of stories about things that have happened in Iraq.” Jamil Hussein supplied the AP with information for scores of stories, not just this faulty one. Rumor-based reporting serves no one’s interests but those who would see Iraq fail.
In other words: “Iraq is not as bad as is portrayed in the MSM. The story about the burned mosques is just one of the many distortions being used by the enemy to sap America’s resolve and embolden the insurgency.”
Is that the basic message you wanted to convey Michelle? Yes? OK. Good.
Let’s turn to some of the atrocities that you acknowledge do occur in Iraq on a regular basis:
Bryan Preston and I visited the area during our Iraq trip last week. Several mosques did, in fact, come under attack by Mahdi Army forces. [...]
Two of [the Nidaa Alah mosque's] inside rooms were burned out by a lobbed firebomb, according to an Army report. [...]
MURDERS do happen regularly in their area, the soldiers emphasized. And no one sugarcoated the brutality of the Shiite militia. But the soldiers say this particular story doesn’t stand up. [...]
MANY Iraqis lie to survive. Rumor is the common national dialect that unites the country’s warring sects and tribes. Sunni journalists carry multiple ID cards to disguise themselves. Shiite Iraqi Army members hide their day jobs – changing into uniform only after arriving on base.
Now, let’s say for the sake of argument that the AP completely botched its reporting of the mosque-burning incident. In fact, let’s say that these four mosques were never even shot at, firebombed or hit with RPGs. By your own admission, then, Iraq would still be a country where:
1.) “Several” mosques regularly come under attack from ethnic militias.
2.) Said militias try to burn the mosques by lobbing firebombs through the windows.
3.) Murders “happen regularly” in Baghdad, and parts of the city are being run by a “brutal” Shiite militia.
4.) Sects and tribes are “warring.”
5.) Shiite Iraqi Army members have to hide their day jobs from the general public for fear of being murdered.
Again, these are things that you acknowledge in your piece are true about Iraq. In the broader context of all these things, are four torched mosques honestly that big a deal? If the AP actually had misreported the details of this incident, would that take away from the fact that Iraq has devolved into a chaotic, violent shithole full of “warring tribes and sects?”
Oh hey, look over there! John Kerry can’t get anyone to sit with him! The troops must hate his guts!
Above: The Oklahoma City building, still standing.
UPDATE: See also.
UPDATE II: Oh, this is a beaut. Thanks to Cutler John for bringing us this blast from the past. Michelle appparently takes a less skeptical view of reporting firebombings when it supports her meta-narrative:
The Religion of
PeaceFirebombs & Fatwas
By Michelle Malkin Â· September 16, 2006 09:09 PM
Yahoo News: Anglican church in Gaza firebombed
Say, doesn’t the smoke in that picture look a little dark? Hmmmmmm…
UPDATE III: Final update before going to bed. Bryan responds:
The IA responded to the attacks in Hurriya on Nov 24, both by helping put out the fires and by attempting to round up the attackers. The AP got that wrong.
According to the same people who said Jamil Hussein didn’t exist, yes.
No mosques were destroyed in those attacks. The AP got that wrong.
The original AP article that I read said the mosques were burned and blown up. I couldn’t find a version of the article where it specifically said they were “destroyed.” If you have one, please send it to me.
Now, I admitted earlier that the AP should have said that the mosques were burned OR blown up, since it isn’t entirely clear that all of them got blown up. Since you and Michelle only visited two of the mosques (the ones that were actually firebombed, no less!), we don’t have enough information to really judge. And yes, amigo, when you lob a firebomb into a building, I consider that building for all intents and purposes blown up and burned. A local Cuban restaurant down the street from me got firebombed a couple years back, and the entire inside of the building was destroyed. From the outside, though, the building was still standing. I guess calling that restaurant blown up and burned would be another example of MSM lies and distortions intended to sap my will to eat fried plantains!
There were no six Sunnis burned. The AP got that wrong.
Again, according to people who said Jamil Hussein didn’t exist. Do some actual reporting instead of reciting government press releases, ya chump propagandist.