Another false exposé by right-wing bloggers

Comment is free: Victim of the bloggers

Brian Whitaker of how “patriotic” right-wing American bloggers saw a conspiracy where there was none, alleging that an Iraqi police captain, Jamil Hussain, was someone the Associated Press had made up to give weight to their stories about sectarian violence in Iraq. They came to this conclusion when the Iraqi authorities said they had no evidence that they had a captain by that name - until today, when the interior ministry confirmed that he does exist - and has an arrest warrant for “having contacts with the media”.

This is the second incident in a very short time when bloggers have seen a hoax and a conspiracy where there was neither - the other being the attack on two ambulances in Lebanon last year, widely denounced by pro-Israeli bloggers as a hoax:

The denials by the Iraqi authorities that they employed no police captain named Jamil Hussein may have been made in good faith, but the bloggers did seem a bit naive in taking the denials as gospel. Iraq is such a crazy mixed-up place that, at the moment, the authorities can’t seriously be relied upon to have accurate records.

Another reason for caution was that Jamil Hussein had been quoted as a source by a number of AP reporters in Baghdad. There have been cases in the past of individual reporters using fictitious sources, but for several people in the same office to be quoting the same fictitious source would be almost unprecedented.

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.

And to think they accuse us of being conspiracy-mad.

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