An interesting character made an appearance in a Saturday evening Associated Press report by Cristian Salazar on Imam Feisal Abdul Rauf:
It's not a one-time accident. The same paragraph carried at Google's version of the story has the same extra character:
The question mark is actually well-placed, as the following paragraphs from Salazar's report demonstrate (bolds are mine throughout this post):
... With Rauf largely absent from the debate, opponents have scoured past statements and critics portray the imam as tone-deaf to the sensitivities of families who lost relatives on Sept. 11. They argue he should forthrightly condemn Arab political movements such as Hamas that the U.S. government has designated as terrorist organizations.
Asked in June by WABC-AM whether he believed the State Department was correct in designating Hamas as a terrorist organization, Rauf gave a winding response: "I am not a politician. ... The issue of terrorism is a very complex question. ... I do not want to be placed ... in a position of ... where I am the target of one side or another."
... After the Sept. 11 attacks, Rauf was called on repeatedly by news organizations to help explain to Americans why the U.S. was so hated by some factions in the Muslim world.
Some of his comments then have now been seized on by critics as evidence of anti-American views.
"We tend to forget, in the West, that the United States has more Muslim blood on its hands than al Qaida has on its hands of innocent non-Muslims," he said in a 2005 lecture in Australia. "You may remember that the U.S.-led sanction against Iraq led to the death of over half a million Iraqi children. This has been documented by the United Nations."
Salazar and the other AP contributors to the report (Religion Writer Rachel Zoll, AP writer David B. Caruso, and AP Investigative Researcher Randy Herschaft) "somehow" missed this item from just three weeks after the 9/11 terrorist attacks, in a 60 Minutes interview:
BRADLEY: Are — are — are you in any way suggesting that we in the United States deserved what happened?
Imam ABDUL RAUF: I wouldn’t say that the United States deserved what happened, but the United States policies were an accessory to the crime that happened.
BRADLEY: OK. You say that we’re an accessory?
Imam ABDUL RAUF: Yes.
Imam ABDUL RAUF: Because we have been an accessory to a lot of — of innocent lives dying in the world. In fact, it — in the most direct sense, Osama bin Laden is made in the USA.
As to the stray question mark, I'd like to think that an AP gremlin-- or perhaps one of the report's three other contributors -- is asking Salazar, "Who do you think you're fooling?"
Cross-posted at BizzyBlog.com.
Update, 8:00 p.m: After leaving the story alone for about 22 hours (since 9:27 last night), the wire service has updated the story at its main site as of 7:21 p.m. The only change made was to remove the stray question mark. The stray question mark is still present in the story as carried at Google.