Yesterday, we noted the strange case of the six burned-alive Sunnis, as reported by the Associated Press. Strange because neither the Iraqi government nor the U.S. Army could find any evidence that the outrage occurred, and the AP’s principal source, described as a “police captain,” was said by the Iraqi government to be no such thing.
So it looked bad for the AP. But today, the AP struck back, pushing pretty much all the chips into the middle of the table. Michelle Malkin has all the details and links, so I won’t recreate that wheel. To summarize, the AP claims to have found new eyewitnesses and is “standing by its story.” More than that: the AP has aggressively gone after the U.S. Army for doubting its report. AP International Editor John Daniszewski said in an email statement today:
The attempt to question the existence of the known police officer who spoke to the AP is frankly ludicrous and hints at a certain level of desperation to dispute or suppress the facts of the incident in question.
That’s quite an accusation to level against the U.S. military, and is obviously unfair in light of the military’s aggressive exposure of its own soldiers’ misdeeds, not to mention those of Shia militiamen. But the AP evidently thinks it knows what way the wind is blowing, with the Democrats now in power in Congress and talk of defeat and withdrawal in the air.
I have infinitely more faith in the U.S. military than in the Associated Press, but that doesn’t mean the military is always right or the AP always wrong. It seems that the AP believes it is in a strong position. I’m tempted to say that one institution or the other must emerge from this affair with its credibility damaged. But perhaps it’s just as likely that the facts will remain unresolved, lost in what sometimes seems like an epistemological fog. Or maybe it’s just a fog of bad reporting.