Is "Captain Jamil Hussein" the "Professor George Harleigh" of Iraq? Classical Values introduces one fictional source to another in a news landscape that includes phony bombed ambulances, Photoshopped smoke and Green Helmet men who not only live in the news, but never die.
I don't know how many readers remember him, but George Harleigh was a famous Political Science professor who had worked in both the Nixon and Reagan administrations, and who was always heard to sound off against Bush at a "news" site called "Capitol Hill Blue."
At the time, it didn't make sense to me that any news site could do this consistently and get away with it. But the guy who ran the site was once a regular reporter. How, I wondered, could a formerly "good" reporter could "go bad"? I assumed that he had once learned how to to proper reporting, but that somehow he had become corrupt or lazy.
In light of the Jamil Hussein allegations (which came on the heels of things like the phony ambulance attack, photoshopped smoke, the Green Helmet man, and more), I was beginning to think that George Harleigh might not have resulted from the imagination of a reporter who became corrupted, but that using fictitious sources is just the way things are done.
One of my favorite movies was Who Killed Roger Rabbit? I liked it so much the fact that none of the characters existed (with the exception of a few human props like Bob Hoskins) bothered me at all. But nothing matches reality if you want fantasy. We have 650,000 dead people in Iraq, as estimated by the Lancet, many of whom died in Baghdad airstrikes without any airstrikes in evidence. We have two countries attacking other countries that have become completely invisible. Magicians in The Prestige would be totally outclassed. We have documents composed in Microsoft Word that go back to the 1970s. It is better than Back to the Future. And all of it is real. Like Jamil Hussein who has been seen, or so we are told, by AP reporters. But maybe Hussein really is one of the live-action human props in this toonscape. Just right for a new movie combining elements of Eragon and Jurassic Park. "In a world of fiction, something has survived." Something. But it doesn't have to be true.