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Iranian Missile Photos Were Photoshopped

From the ever truthful New York Times:

In an Iranian Image, a Missile Too Many

By Mike Nizza and Patrick Witty

In the four-missile version of the image released Wednesday by Sepah News, the media arm of Iran’s Revolutionary Guard, two major sections (encircled in red) appear to closely replicate other sections (encircled in orange).

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 fact 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, NYTimes.com and many other major news Web sites.

Agence France-Pressee 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.

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

Update: Agence France-Pressee has retracted the image as “apparently digitally altered.”

(Click images to enlarge.)

As the article suggests, the Iranians have done such things before. They have even faked videos.

But our media does not have much room to talk. Of course everyone remembers how Reuters embellished their photographs during the Israeli incursion into southern Lebanon.

But the AFP and New York Times have had problems with "missile" photos before. Both ran this photo with a misleading caption:

AFP caption: 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.

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

Of course that is not a missile in any normal sense of the word.

Maybe our media are just upset about the Iranians being too obvious about it. They could ruin it for everybody.

It’s too bad, however, that the threat is real.

This article was posted by Steve Gilbert on Thursday, July 10th, 2008. Comments are currently closed.

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