BOG GARFIELD: This week the U.S. Army 3rd Infantry Division found itself in the awkward position of explaining why two news releases about two separate terrorist attacks included the same defiant quotation from an unidentified Iraqi, supposedly responding to the incidents. A release one week ago quotes the anonymous source as follows, "The terrorists are attacking the infrastructure, the ISF and all of Iraq. They are enemies of humanity, without religion or any sort of ethics. They have attacked my community today, and I will now take the fight to the terrorists." A July 13th release about a car bombing used that exact quotation, substituting only the word "children" for "ISF" or Iraqi security forces. We wanted to get the story behind this astonishing "coincidence," so joining me on the line from Baghdad is Unidentified Iraqi. Mr. Iraqi, welcome to On the Media.
MR. "UNIDENTIFIED IRAQI": Thank you, sir.
BOG GARFIELD: I want to begin by asking you how all this happened, being quoted as uttering the identical words about two separate terrorist attacks.
MR. "UNIDENTIFIED IRAQI": The terrorists are attacking the infrastructure, the fill-in-the-blank and all of Iraq.
BOG GARFIELD: Understood. My question though is how you came to be speaking to the U.S. military in the first place. Are you, yourself, in the Iraqi government or the security forces?
MR. "UNIDENTIFIED IRAQI": Sir, they are enemies of humanity, without religion or any sort of ethics.
BOG GARFIELD: Mr. Unidentified Iraqi, did you actually say the things that appeared in these press releases?
MR. "UNIDENTIFIED IRAQI": I will now take this fight to the terrorists!
BOG GARFIELD: Okay. Forgive me for observing two things. One, your quotations were awfully convenient for an army battling not just insurgence but also media portrayals of bitter and demoralized ordinary Iraqis. And two, that really sounds like a fake Iraqi accent. Can you offer one original thought that would make me believe you actually exist?
MR. "UNIDENTIFIED IRAQI": They--hate our freedom.
BOG GARFIELD: That's--not going to do it.
MR. "UNIDENTIFIED IRAQI": [NO IRAQI ACCENT] I think I've already given you my best material.
BOG GARFIELD: Mr. Unidentified Iraqi, thank you very much.
MR. "UNIDENTIFIED IRAQI": [BACK TO IRAQI ACCENT] My pleasure, Sir!
BOG GARFIELD: "Unidentified Iraqi" spoke to us on the phone from: fill-in-the-blank. Back in real life, the military did issue a statement regarding those "coincidental" quotes. Lieutenant Colonel Clifford Kent, spokesman for the U.S. Army's 3rd Infantry Division, said the use of the quote was an "administrative error." (MUSIC UP AND UNDER)
BROOKE GLADSTONE: Coming up, all numbers are not created equal, and why the press gets foggy when the temperature rises.
BOG GARFIELD: This is On the Media from NPR. (MUSIC)