Information Warfare: Pictures That Don't Tell the Story

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August 12, 2006: As the scandal around Photoshopped and staged war-in- Lebanon photos used by various mainstream media outlets continues, it is becoming more obvious that what happens in newsrooms is having an effect on the war. Hizbollah, unable to defeat Israel via conventional means, resorted to the use of the Western media - which usually has very few restraints - to increase diplomatic and political pressure on Israel.
However, while Hizbollah's increasing ability to get staged photographs transmitted by the AP and Reuters, may be able to influence world opinion, such tactics will not be so effective at forcing a premature halt to the Israeli bombing campaign. For example, several blogs are highlighting a video posted on YouTube.com (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4vPAkc5CLgc), which shows a purported Lebanese aid worker directing camera shots, saying, "Keep on filming" and "Better images must be shot" - and then removing a victim from an ambulance for a second take. The aid worker is seen ensuring that the camera catches the dead boy's face. Not only does this show that the pictures published in late July were staged, they also apparently were in violation of Islamic laws concerning treatment of dead bodies (see http://muttaqun.com/funerals.html).
Other photographs have been provided with misleading captions. In one such case, a dead girl was being carried away from somewhere - allegedly the victim of an Israeli air raid. A correction was later issued - revealing that she was not a casualty of war, but had instead died because of an accident on a playground. The corrected caption never got the treatment that the original photo did.
Despite the video and other signs that photos have been faked or staged, the AP still stands by them. This despite cases where, in multiple instances, the same people or items have appeared in photos taken in multiple areas. The AP's obstinacy is only the latest case of the media giving the terrorist efforts to spin the war a boost. Part of this may be due to coercion of reporters (CNN in fact, admitted that they slanted coverage from Iraq while Saddam Hussein was in power to avoid losing access to that country).
Israel may have been fought to a draw in this round of fighting. But the real big losers are the mainstream media outlets that have been caught using the staged and doctored photographs. An eventual loser may be all Arabs, as people will begin to note the proven lies in this round of the conflict, and remember the other media lies put out by the Palestinians recently, and passed on by the mainstream media. Such staged events are nothing new. They were also uncovered in the 1990s during the Bosnia fighting. But Arabs take these deceptions to another level, and don't seem fazed at all when they are caught at it. - Harold C. Hutchison (haroldc.hutchison@gmail.com)

 


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