April 24, 2007

Not As It Appears

Redstate is currently running a post by "streiff" called AP is Popular with the Troops that claims to show an American soldier on patrol in Iraq "flipping off" the Associated Press photographer, Maya Alleruzzo.


Blackfive provides a link to the original caption that IDs the soldier as:

Staff Sgt Patrick Lockett 25, of Huntsville Alabama of Alpha Troop, 3rd Squadron, 1st Cavalry Regiment, 3rd Infantry Division patrols in Al Kargoulia, 25 miles (40 kilometers) east of Baghdad, Iraq, Fri., April 20, 2007. The 3rd Brigade of the 3rd Infantry Division is back in Iraq for the third time since rolling into Baghdad in 2003. (AP Photo/Maya Alleruzzo)

On first blush, it appears to be exactly what RedState and Blackfive describe. But sometimes, even pictures can tell less than the whole story.

I got an email from Michael Yon this morning that including the following:


You are the man for this. Maya Alleruzzo, currently a photographer for AP, is getting flack. I know Maya and she is very pro troop…

I would email to Redstate directly but their email address is on my laptop (somewhere else). I think it's just a mistake because the people at Redstate have their hearts in the right place. Maya is out here in the worst parts of Iraq and she's a treasure -- though I know her association with AP puts her into harm's way.

I'm trying to run down Staff Sgt Lockett, who would be the ultimate authority on what was occurring in this picture. If I get a response, I'll be sure to post it. In the meantime, I trust Yon, who seems to know Alleruzzo, and the work of Alleruzzo herself. In addition to taking photos for the Associated Press, Alleruzzo occasionally writes.

Does this author of this article strike you as the kind of person our soldiers would flip off? How about this one, detailing the courage of a paralyzed Iraqi officer?

I don't think so. This sounds like the kind of photographer/journalist that soldiers would love to have around.

Of course, a closer look at the image may tell the story on its own.

I've cropped and enlarged the photo, and done some extremely high-tech phalanges modeling. Count the fingers, folks.


Unless Staff Sgt. Lockett is related to the Six-Fingered Man from The Princess Bride, the photo itself seems to provide the debunking. The bones extending from the wrist (crude gray lines) through the pinky finger define the outside shape of Lockett's glove and the hand it contains, and from there it is a simple matter to merely count the remaining knuckle impressions (shown with white dots) on the glove itself to account for the ring, middle, and index fingers.

It is the index finger you see alongside the M4 receiver, with the other three fingers (middle finger included) curled around the pistol grip of the carbine.

It seems a blogosphere retraction is in order.

Update: I'm very disappointed with Redstate at the moment. I sent them an email alerting them to the apparent fact that their claims were false, and to date, they've refused to issue a correction.

Apparently, they're either not monitoring their email, or are possessed by their own brand of "truthiness."

Posted by Confederate Yankee at April 24, 2007 08:36 AM

It looks like he has what ever finger he desires on the safety. Some put an index, others the middle. Big deal.

Posted by: David Caskey at April 24, 2007 08:48 AM

much ado about nothing....

Posted by: jon at April 24, 2007 08:51 AM

The safety's actually on the other side, and is flipped with the thumb.

One of the safety rules is to keep your finger straight and off the trigger, as seen in the pic. When you're rolling with a condition 1 weapon, that's how your finger always is.

Good catch CY, and nice high-tech phalange modeling. Did you do that in a CSI lab? :)

Posted by: paully at April 24, 2007 08:58 AM

And you felt you needed to call the other blogs on it why? I suspect you think you are doing the right thing however it didn't advance anything and alot of us enjoyed the thought of the soldier flipping off the AP as they and Al Reuters have photoshopped so much and been so critical of our military men and women, so thanks for taking away the illusion.

Posted by: Rightmom at April 24, 2007 09:07 AM

I think it was a two-fold purpose:

a) To protect and recognize journalists who are on our side
b) To show the left that a widely read rightwing blog isn't afraid to call bullshit and will strive to maintain integrity, even if something happens to agree with what lots of us would really like to see

Posted by: paully at April 24, 2007 09:33 AM
And you felt you needed to call the other blogs on it why? I suspect you think you are doing the right thing however it didn't advance anything and alot of us enjoyed the thought of the soldier flipping off the AP as they and Al Reuters have photoshopped so much and been so critical of our military men and women, so thanks for taking away the illusion.

I can't actually beleive you feel this way.

I am doing the right thing by reporting the facts, no matter where those facts lead us.

This AP photographer was not being flipped off. If you read the two links to articles she has written, she seems to have a deep respect for both American troops and our coalition allies, and the sacrifices they have made. We don't have enough honest journalists out there, and I'll do my damndest to defend the good ones against obviously wrong attacks.

Publishing this post "advances" the truth, the very thing we hammer the media the most to provide. Instead, you advocate nothing less than the flip side of trutherism. Your basic message is "Screw the facts. This is what I want to believe." This is warped, wrong, and dishonorable.

I will not apologize for attempting to publish the truth and correct inaccurate information, no matter who issues it.

Posted by: Confederate Yankee at April 24, 2007 09:46 AM

Nice job CY. I bet we would never see a post like this at DU, FDL or KOS.

Posted by: Specter at April 24, 2007 10:05 AM

Posts like this are what make me respect this blog, even though we're on opposite sides of the political aisle.

And Pally is right. My weapons instructor would have smaked me upside the head if I ever placed my finger on the trigger unless I was ready to fire.

Hoo-uh, Bob, for keeping things straight.

On a side note, if I was on my third tour, I would be tempted to give someone the finger, but the photographer would be way down on the list.

Posted by: David Terrenoire at April 24, 2007 10:53 AM

I think he is flipping the bird but he is doing it to keep his photo out of the press and thus himself and family more secure, a common tactic. He probably doesn't know or care who the photog is or works for. Just a thought

Posted by: Ray Robison at April 24, 2007 01:45 PM

alot of us enjoyed the thought of the soldier flipping off the AP as they and Al Reuters have photoshopped so much and been so critical of our military men and women, so thanks for taking away the illusion.

Please tell me that Rightmom is a parody. I know people deceive themselves in order to remain happy, but very few will actually admit it. From there it's a short trip to the padded room...

Posted by: scarshapedstar at April 24, 2007 03:24 PM was fun while it lasted. Until I saw the photo enlarged I figured that he was doing what all of us thought he was doing! Michael Yon's email put everything into it's proper perspective regarding Maya Alleruzzo.

Posted by: lib_NOT at April 24, 2007 04:05 PM

Good catch CY. Keep up the truth instead of the "truth".

Posted by: Justin at April 24, 2007 04:10 PM

Rightmom couldn't be more WRONG.

Keeping the media honest is a noble cause, and one that bloggers on both sides of the political spectrum, embraced with zeal, and as such it is imperative that we keep our own backyard clean.

Not sure if this came from Mike or Bob - but it is spot on:

“If we’re going to hammer the media for corrections and retractions when they blow a story, we should do the same with ourselves,”

Bob - you did the right thing, and I hope Matt and Redstate step up like you did.

Rightmom --- shame on you!

Posted by: Huntress at April 24, 2007 04:16 PM

I know it's been a bunch of years but the M16s I carried had the safety/selector switch on the left side of the receiver (as does the civilian version I own)...or have the years fogged my memory? He would appear to be right handed and the 101 patch from a previous tour is on his right shoulder so the picture hasn't been "flipped" (is that even possible with digital cameras and printing these days?).

Side note - what are those red "tubes" on his right chest. Look like shotgun shells to me but ...?

Posted by: Piper 17 at April 24, 2007 06:52 PM

Rightmom, if CY is right, I completely agree with you. My son is in Charlie troop of that Squadron, and I sent him the picture and article from "Blackfive".

I read CY every day and agree with most of his thoughts. But, I am like you, what is the purpose or victory in finger f**king my dreams. It is a harmless gesture that for all intents and purposes brings a cheer to those with blood in this game.

Defiance is only one ingredient that makes up the spirit of the American fighting man. I believe that this soldier is letting everyone at home know that all is well and under control. I sleep better knowing that troopers like him are there.

I don't buy what CY is selling.

Posted by: DickB at April 25, 2007 01:45 AM

I've sent this link to They are great at tracking down this sort of thing, and seem to play right down the line, politically.

Posted by: Ian at April 25, 2007 01:17 PM

Kudos for your correction, and shame on Redstate! Having read those articles by the AP reporter/photog in question, I cannot imagine that rightmom could have such a cavalier attitude about getting the record straight! Good for you, CY.

Advice to rightmom, go read those articles, then tell CY you're sorry.

Posted by: DagneyT at April 25, 2007 04:26 PM

Well I tried with both hands and when the bird
comes up you still have part of the index
showing...When you use the index they all fold
to the inside from middle to little and can't
be seen...

Posted by: Tincan Sailor at April 25, 2007 05:36 PM

Good job. Thanks for posting the truth.

Posted by: sj at April 25, 2007 10:32 PM