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September 10, 2006
Did The AP Have A Spy For Saddam?

The American Thinker posts a translation of a captured Iraqi Intelligence Service document that intimates a mole for the IIS worked at the Associated Press. Document ISGQ-2005-00026108, translated by the tireless Joseph Shahda, does make an intriguing reference to a source within the AP:

Republic of Iraq

The Presidency of the Republic

The Intelligence Service

Date: 25/7/2000

Number: 6146


To: 5th / 4th / 13th Directorates

We were informed from one of our sources (the degree of trust in him is good) who works in the American Associated Press Agency [emphasis added] that the agency broadcasted to through computer to its branches worldwide the following ...

The AP has earned plenty of mistrust for its slanted reporting over the years, but I don't think this adds significantly to that record. First, the memo doesn't describe the nature of its source. It could have been a reporter, but could just as easily could have been a copy desk employee or some clerical worker within the office with access to inbound information from their reporters. Second, reporters from all news sources had made a number of contacts with the Saddam regime, and if anyone thinks that information only flows in one direction in those relationships, they are pretty naive.

The date of the memo also calls into question the usefulness of the source. The memo was written on July 24, 2000. However, the UN commissioned UNMOVIC in 1999, eight months earlier. Hans Blix got the assignment as UNMOVIC chief in March 2000, four months prior to the memo. The group began its training for new inspectors on July 11th, almost two weeks prior to the memo. While the AP may or may not have reported the information in this memo publicly, Reuters did on July 14 -- ten days before the memo was written.

I saw this last night and thought it looked too thin for comment. Several of my fellow bloggers seem to think otherwise, but I think they misremember the public nature of UNMOVIC's creation and deployment. Nothing in this IIS memo has any information that anyone with access to the wire services would not have known for days prior to its creation. Their trusted source may have been no more than an Internet news site.

UPDATE: Mark Tapscott has a response to this post that CQ readers should note well. If Saddam did have any kind of source at the AP, it certainly would reflect badly on the news agency, and the memo does indicate that the IIS believed they did. It's just not clear that the source had any access to damaging information.

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Posted by Ed Morrissey at September 10, 2006 2:24 PM

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» Tough Questions for the Associated Press from Considerettes
What did they know and when did they know it? Mark Tapscott would like to know. Saddam Hussein had a very trusted source inside AP, according to the translation of another of the thousands of documents captured by U.S. forces that are only slowing bei... [Read More]

Tracked on September 10, 2006 5:04 PM

» What is going on at AP? from Tapscott's Copy Desk
My buddy Ed Morrissey at Captain's Quarters, for example, points to the timeline of UNMOVIC: [Read More]

Tracked on September 10, 2006 5:16 PM

» What is going on at AP? from Tapscott's Copy Desk
My buddy Ed Morrissey at Captain's Quarters, for example, points to the timeline of UNMOVIC: [Read More]

Tracked on September 10, 2006 5:41 PM

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