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About That Phony NYT “Missile” Photo Caption

It seems that a photo that appeared in the New York Times accompanying an article about the US air attack in Pakistan against top Al Qaeda leaders has attracted some attention.

NYT caption: Pakistani men with the remains of a missile fired at a house in the Bajur tribal zone near the Afghan border.

The Times got the photo from the AFP. As did others, including Yahoo.

From the Yahoo news site one can see how in their haste to buttress the horror of this attack, the NYT ran with the AFP's first caption for the photo, which should have been for a number of reasons, obviously inaccurate:

Pakistani tribesmen stand by missiles that were fired at their house, a day after US air strike in Bajur tribal zone near the Afghan border. Pakistani officials have said that Al-Qaeda deputy leader Ayman al-Zawahiri was probably not killed in a US air strike, as anger mounted over the deaths of 18 villagers in the attack.(AFP/Thir Khan)

AFP – Jan 14 7:14 AM

Three hours later the AFP corrected the caption to:

Pakistani tribesmen stand by a unexploded ordinance at their house which was damaged in an alleged US air strike the day before in the Bajur tribal zone near the Afghan border. Pakistani officials said that Al-Qaeda deputy leader Ayman al-Zawahiri was likely not killed in a US air strike, as Islamabad protested to Washington the deaths of 18 villagers in the attack.(AFP/Thir Khan)

AFP – Jan 14 10:01 AM

Actually, the AFP meant ordnanceand not ordinance. But that just shows the kind of unmilitary people they have writing their captions.

The Times has now pulled the photo from the article.

But it would seem both the AFP and The Times were so eager to find damning evidence of this terrible crime against humanity, they didn't take the time to notice that this was an artillery shell, as opposed to an air to surface missile, the kind of which were used by the US in the attack.

For it is clearly an artillery shell, rather than any kind of missile. It has no fins, as missiles do. Nor is it a bomb, since one can even make out the scoring in the copper band, which show it has passed through a rifled barrel of a gun.

In fact, given its blue color, it is probably a Russian shell. (US shells are green.) Which, together with the distinctive Afghani headgear in the photos, gives rise to the speculation that the photo is actually from Afghanistan and not Pakistan at all. (The other photos from the event show men in the regulation small white Pakistani caps.)

It is interesting to note that the rest of the photos from the Pakistani village at AFP are from another photographer, and not Thir Khan. Did the AFP send two photographers there? And if so, why did Khan only take one photo?

All in all it is yet another example of how our one party media allows its agenda driven prejudices to distort their reportage of even the most basic facts.

Update!

The Times has been shamed into making a correction:

Top Qaeda Aide Is Called Target in U.S. Air Raid

Correction: A picture caption on Saturday with an article about a U.S. airstrike on a village in Pakistan misidentified an unexploded ordinance. It was not the remains of a missile fired at a house.

They also spelled "ordnance" wrong. Oh, well…

This article was posted by Steve Gilbert on Monday, January 16th, 2006. Comments are currently closed.

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