comment by Jerry Gordon

capt8179b8255bc842428fd32aca088bcafeiran_missiles_vah103.jpgA tip of the hat to Dr. Richard R. for sending us this story

Once again, the world's media get suckered by Middle East PhotoShop 'taqiyya'. On Wednesday, Agence France Presse (AGF) released a stunning photo showing a multiple missile launch that they received from the Iranian Sepah news agency. Within hours it was splattered on the front pages of most international and US dailies, as well as on the Internet. The world was jarred by this Iranian technical hat trick. Problem is they set out to fool us, the unwary infidel. As this New York Times 'The Lede" blog post graphically shows, the images were as the AGF withdrawal notice indicated 'apparently digitally altered".

lbn20_a.jpgBack during the Second Lebanon War in July-August 2006, Reuters was caught with its editorial pants down, when a local Lebanese stringer photographer altered photos of alleged Israeli bombings in South Beirut. Upon further investigation, the images were altered via PhotoShop. The result was that Reuters had to issue a 'kill notice" to withdraw the picture from circulation. The damage had been done then as it was in the current case, because the graphic imagery was already embedded in the readers mind. It was Hizbullah then. Now it is Iran's turn to fool the world's press. More taqiyya from Tehran to grab headlines and to scare the bejeezus out of the policy wonks in Washington and the EU. Meanwhile, the Israelis rolled out their latest sophisticated drone spy plane, today with this comment:

Israel showed off its latest spy plane Thursday in what defense officials said was a display of strength in response to Iranian war games and missile tests.

"It has the most sophisticated early warning and intelligence devices to date and is capable of reaching all destinations required by the air force," said Assaf Dargan, a spokesman for Israel Aerospace Industries.

by Mike Nizza, and Patrick WittyThe Lede Blog-New York Times, July 10, 2008


Updated, 1:23 p.m., Agence France-Presse has retracted the image as "apparently digitally altered."

As news spread across the world of Iran's provocative missile tests, so did an image of four missiles heading skyward in unison. Unfortunately, it appeared to contain one too many missiles, a point that had not emerged before the photo appeared on the front pages of The Los Angeles Times, The Financial Times, The Chicago Tribune and several other newspapers as well as on BBC News, MSNBC, Yahoo! News, and many other major news Web sites.


The Los Angeles Times, The Palm Beach Post and Chicago Tribune, among others, used the image on the front pages on Thursday.


Our homepage at 3:56 p.m. on Wednesday.

Agence France-Presse said that it obtained the image from the Web site of Sepah News, the media arm of the Iranian Revolutionary Guards, on Wednesday. But there was no sign of it there later in the day. Today, The Associated Press distributed what appeared to be a nearly identical photo from the same source, but without the fourth missile.

As the above illustration shows, the second missile from the right appears to be the sum of two other missiles in the image. The contours of the billowing smoke match perfectly near the ground, as well in the immediate wake of the missile. Only a small black dot in the reddish area of exhaust seems to differ from the missile to its left, though there are also some slight variations in the color of the smoke and the sky.

Does Iran's state media use Photoshop? The charge has been leveled before. So far, though, it can't be said with any certainty whether there is any official Iranian involvement in this instance. Sepah apparently published the three-missile version of the image today without further explanation.

For its part, Agence France-Presse retracted its four-missile version this morning, saying that the image was "apparently digitally altered" by Iranian state media. The fourth missile "has apparently been added in digital retouch to cover a grounded missile that may have failed during the test," the agency said. Later, it published an article quoting several experts.

Throughout the day, several news sites have taken steps to disown the photograph that they ran on Wednesday, including and

In a sentiment no doubt expressed by news organizations everywhere on Wednesday, an MSNBC editor admitted that the four-missile picture was initially welcomed with open arms. "As the media editor working the home page yesterday, I was frustrated with the quality of a fuzzy video image we published of the Iranian missile launch," Rich Shulman, associate multimedia editor, said. "So I was thrilled when the top image crossed the news wires."


Top, the image that Agence France-Presse obtained from Sepah News on Wednesday. Below, another image that The Associated Press received from the same source on Thursday.


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