Blogger and columnist Michelle Malkin has been providing new information about Bilal Hussein, an Iraqi AP photographer who is being held by the U.S. government on charges of colluding with terrorists. The AP pretended the story didn't exist for five months, but when it finally admitted the truth, it also fired back a rebuttal to one of her recent columns. Said Malkin in her Sep. 20 column:
On April 12, I learned from military sources that an Associated Press photographer in Iraq, Fallujah native Bilal Hussein, had been captured in Ramadi in an apartment with insurgents and a cache of weapons. This was news. I asked the AP for confirmation. Corporate spokesman Jack Stokes informed me that company officials were "looking into reports that Mr. Hussein was detained by the U.S. military in Iraq but have no furthhttp://newsbusters.org/node/add/bloger details at this time." After reporting the alleged detention on my blog ( michellemalkin.com/archives/005941.htm), I followed up several more times with AP over the past five months for status updates on Hussein. No reply.
After trying to cover up the story for five months, the AP was finally forced to acknowledge that one of their own was being detained.
Let me repeat that: An Associated (with terrorists) Press journalist gets caught with an alleged al Qaeda leader and tests positive for bomb-making materials. That. Is. News. How does a news organization explain away its decision to sit on it for five months? Like this: "The AP has worked quietly until now, believing that would be the best approach."
The best approach to journalism? No. The best approach to suppressing a damning connection to terrorists.
After her column came out, the AP fired back with guns blazing, asking all newspapers who run her column to print this editorial:
For Publication in those newspapers who used the Malkin column in print or online:
September 20, 2006
Letter to the Editor:
Michelle Malkin’s incendiary Sept. 20, 2006 column about Associated Press is filled with innuendo, distortion and factual error. This is not surprising because AP has found numerous inaccuracies and misrepresentations in Malkin’s online blog references to AP photographer Bilal Hussein, who has been detained in Iraq for more than five months by the U.S. military without being charged. Malkin would deny Bilal due process and the rule of law by trying him in her column and assuming his guilt by mere association.
Among other things, Malkin asserts in her column that Bilal took photographs “before, during, and after the Iraqi desert execution of…Salvatore Santoro.” This is absolutely false. The man identified as Santoro was already dead by the time anyone working for The Associated Press was brought to see him. The AP story, filed on December 16, 2004, explains that masked insurgents stopped Hussein and other AP journalists at a roadblock and took them to the site where the blindfolded body lay, already stiff with rigor mortis. For the full story and photo captions that AP transmitted, see http://www.ap.org/response/response_091906a.html.
To see all the facts about the detention of AP photographer Bilal Hussein and thousands of others detained by the U.S. military in Iraq, see AP’s extensive news coverage at http://www.ap.org/pages/about/whatsnew/whatsnew.html.
There you can learn why AP has been asking the U.S. military to either charge or release Bilal, an Iraqi citizen whom they detained while he was working in Ramadi. While claiming his ties to insurgents are inappropriate, the military has not provided clear evidence or brought charges in a court of law.
Journalists interview and photograph murderers, child molesters, kidnappers, and, yes, even terrorists, when they cover news that the public has a right to know, such as the reality of the insurgency in Iraq. To cover the conflicts in our world, journalists must have contact with the people who engage on various sides of the conflict. While AP understands that its journalists may be detained briefly during a military sweep on occasion, indefinite detention without charges is not acceptable.
As AP reported on September 17, Bilal is one of about 14,000 people held by the U.S. military as “security detainees” in a global network of overseas prisons. They have not been charged with crimes, and most have not heard why they have been held. Government officials in Iraq say the U.S. has no right to detain its citizens in this way.
AP is insisting that the U.S. military follow accepted due process under the law and the Geneva Conventions – that is, give Bilal Hussein the chance to see any evidence and answer formal charges; if the evidence is not there, release him.
Ellen Hale, V.P., Corporate Communications
The Associated Press
Michelle Malkin responded to this write-up on her blog:
If my column and online blog references are so "filled with innuendo, distortion and factual error," why does the AP come up with a whopping one specific example? Let's dispense with this lone example concerning Hussein's Santoro photos--which AP undoubtedly hopes will distract readers from the fundamental issue of the news organization's news suppression.
I encourage you all to read the AP account that the statement links to--which implies that Santoro was killed because he crashed through an insurgent checkpoint and ran over a terrorist. Video from that day, shot by another so-called journalist who accompanied Bilal Hussein on the desert field trip to visit Santoro’s killers, however, shows the terrorists bragging about killing Santoro because of his support and ties to America. Rusty Shackleford raises additional doubt about the single anonymous source--wonder who?--upon whom AP relies for the facts.
More telling than what the AP chooses to respond to is what it
remained stunningly silent on in its statement about my column and blog
posts supposedly filled with "numerous inaccuracies and
What does the AP have to say about its five-month blackout on the
news of Hussein's detention, first reported on this blog and covered
extensively in what it derisively calls the "so-called blogosphere?"
The "right to know" does not extend to journalists' reporting on their own scandals.
You can count on AP, the "essential global network," to support your
"right to know" and cover the news--except when the news organization
deems it more important to cover it up. Right, AP?