Wednesday, April 29, 2009

4/25/09: U.S. military "torture" pictures: Are they real, or are they (#$!*%)?


Here is an example of how HuffPost used photos from unidentified sources to impugn the U.S. military --- in this case, for two very different "news" accounts.

First, on February 10, 2009, HuffPost ran a story entitled Feingold Slams Obama For Extraordinary Rendition Decision. Screen and PDF captures are below, showing a nondescript individual with his hands and feet handcuffed through a cell door:

As noted in the Google search box at the upper right of the first JPG, we conducted a search for the file name of this photo, using the tag found by right clicking on the picture: "s-TORTURE-large.jpg". This picture was not found --- meaning that there's no telling where it came from, if it was taken at a U.S. detention facility... or one run by Fidel Castro, Hugo Chavez, Yemen or Saudi Arabia.

Before we go further, it is worth considering the context in which this picture was placed.

The story is about "extraordinary rendition," in which terrorist detainees are shuttled off to foreign nations where the source government knows that they'll face "harsh interrogations" to glean useful intelligence.

Although HuffPost has made it a practice of lambasting President Bush for using extraordinary rendition on terrorist detainees after 9/11, the reality is that the practice was used extensively by President Clinton, as well, long before 9/11 (yet few Americans are aware of this). How do we know this? Because the head of the CIA's bin Laden unit under Clinton admitted to it, here.

So, for all we know, the picture above is actually from one of the destination nations' prisons --- perhaps Egypt, or Syria, or...? It may not have anything to do with the U.S. military at all.

Then, on April 24, 2009, HuffPost ran another news story, sourced through the
Washington Post, entitled Military Agency Called Harsh Methods 'Torture,' 'Unreliable'.

And guess which picture they chose to use for it? You got it --- the exact same, mysterious "s-TORTURE-large.jpg":

But what was the splash front page headline photo that HuffPost chose to employ, that led to this top thread? See for yourself (click to enlarge):

Well, that picture at least looks like U.S. military personnel --- yet there isn't a handcuffed detainee, let alone one being abused, in sight. One doesn't see that picture until one clicks on the story link.

Bottom line: There is absolutely no telling where the handcuff picture came from --- yet HuffPost chose to use it, twice, in regards to two entirely different stories.

Stay tuned for more examples of this type of loose photo "standards and practices" at HuffPost, as they develop.


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