August 15, 2007

Going to the Well Once Too Often

Photographer Wissam al-Okaili has had quite an interesting summer in Iraq, and apparently made quite a few friends.

In July, he published a picture carried in media around the world, as an elderly Sadr City woman held up a object that she claimed was a bullet that came into her room and hit her bed. What was quite interesting about the claim is that the "bullet" had no rifling, and did not match up to a caliber used by any known U.S. or Russian-designed weapons system. Many at the time felt that the object was most likely a fake, but results were never conclusive.

Over at Blackfive last night, Uncle Jimbo caught al-Okaili attempting to use this narrative once too often as captured on Yahoo!'s photostream:


The woman in the photo—Uncle Jimbo notes that she looks like the same woman—makes a very similar claim, holding up bullets that she claims hit her house.

And they very well may have hit her house, if the were tossed or kicked in that direction, but it is quite obvious that bullets still in their cartridge casings have never been fired by a gun [note: the cursor arrow in the photo above was added by me to point at the casing during the screen capture, and is not in the original photo].

Based upon these photos alone, we can only say that Wissam al-Okaili may simply be a dupe of a photographer. Obviously, his editors weren't sharp enough to notice that fired bullets don't remain in their cartridges, either. Perhaps al-Okaili was merely the patsy for a manipulative and press savvy Madhi Army propaganda operative, and this AFP photographer was used as so many photographers were used in last summer's conflict between Israel and Hezbollah in Lebanon.

Other photos, taken by al-Okaili, however, begin to paint a more deliberate portrait of this photographer's body of work.


In this photo, dated just three days ago on Sunday, August 12, al-Okaili is shooting his photo from inside the passenger compartment of a shot-up vehicle. The boy in the photo is obviously aware of him. Is this a staged photo? If so, it certainly wouldn't be the first time that a news photographer was also playing a role as a stage manager. As a stand-alone photo, this is a minor foul.


This photo was shot through a shattered house window this time, in a photo dated one day before the previous one. It probably isn't the same boy (in case you were wondering), but we're dealing with some minor stage management again, which now appears symptomatic.


In a photo dated Jul 25, he returns once more to the "through the shattered glass" motif, but this time with an older Iraqi man as his focal point.

Time and again, al-Okaili returns to the same type of picture, and in the case of the female bullet magnet, the same people.

I'd say that that is troubling, and perhaps something AFP needs to discuss with him, as it makes his work appear to be more contrived than captured. While they're having this discussion, perhaps they can pull in AFP photo editors and explain how bullets and firearms function.

Update: Rocco's Guide To Fired vs. Unfired Bullets. Sadly, some folks will noeed to bookmark that.

Update: Let's go back for a moment to the lady holding the ammunition above, and focus on the catridges in her hands. What kind of ammunition is it?

I don't think that it is either 7.62x51 NATO or 7.62x39, or 7.62x54R. The bullets themselves are too small, and overall, appear to be the wrong size and shape.

That would seem to narrow this down to the smaller class of assault rifle bullets, primarily the 5.56 NATO in common use by U.S. soldiers as the standard chambering for the M4, M16, and M249. Indeed, that is probably what they want you to infer from these photos.

But here's the thing: The standard 62-grain M855 5.56 ball ammo used by our military today has a green tip, the M856 tracer has an orange tip, the M995 AP a black tip, and the Mk262 is a hollowpoint with an open tip.


The picture seems to show common commercial 55-grain civilian ball ammunition patterned after the Vietnam-era M193. With this in mind, I'd state that this ammunition wasn't even dropped by American forces, as they don't carry such ammunition.

This isn't just a a photo that just shows ignorance. It appears to show a willful deception using civilian ammunition.

08/16 Update: Per Mr. Of Spades, it seems Getty is still running the photo with an unexplained caption correction that still doesn't explain that that cartridges held are civilian rounds. At Yahoo! it appears that the picture is moving around, and according to the latest search I've run on the photographer's work, seems to have been deleted.

No explanation, and presumably, no accountability.

Posted by Confederate Yankee at August 15, 2007 09:16 AM

AFP editors must be dumb as a bag of hammers...or simply working for the other side.

Posted by: Purple Avenger at August 15, 2007 09:34 AM

I sure would like to see the reverse angle. I'll bet those are square backed cartridges.

Posted by: Pablo at August 15, 2007 09:52 AM

if she really wanted, she could go up to her roof and she'll probably find quite a few fired rounds that have fallen back to ground after every time these retards run out in the street and fire their AKs in the air.

Posted by: negentropy at August 15, 2007 10:35 AM

Wow - Those women over there sure have manly looking hands.

Posted by: sickboy at August 15, 2007 11:31 AM

Picture gone.

Go figure.

Posted by: MTT at August 15, 2007 11:33 AM

If you want to show something like a hole in a wall to demonstrate that it has been damaged, you could just show the hole in the wall. I'm not a photojournalist, but I'd bet that such a photo would have little chance of getting picked up and run by a wire service because it's not interesting. Similarly, if the topic of a story is a bullet, you could take a photo of a bullet against a plain background, but it wouldn't be very dynamic. Think about the photos of the gouge in the shuttle's heat shield panels. Even knowing the consequences of a screwed-up heat shield, the photo lacks magnetism.

Putting people into a shot makes it--what's the word? Sexier? Saleable?

Has the photographer been accused of making the holes himself? If I missed that, I apologize for misunderstanding the hoorah.

It would seem that this guy is most guilty of having a fairly limited bag of tricks aimed at making his photos more viewable.

Posted by: nunaim at August 15, 2007 11:41 AM

Read the caption on the first photo.

The bullets she's holding, that supposedly hit her house, haven't been fired from a gun.

Claiming they're the bullets that hit her house, well, any way you cut it, that's a lie.

Posted by: scott thomas at August 15, 2007 11:47 AM

Did you see this one:

How about this one from today:

Stage managed is right.

Posted by: John VS at August 15, 2007 11:49 AM
Claiming they're the bullets that hit her house, well, any way you cut it, that's a lie.

A lie by the woman, daleyrocks, but not by the author of the caption, who wrote, "which she says hit her house" [emphasis mine]. If that's what she said, that's what she said, isn't it?

If the writer were falling for it, wouldn't he or she write, "which hit her house"?

Posted by: nunaim at August 15, 2007 01:11 PM
If the writer were falling for it, wouldn't he or she write, "which hit her house"?

If the writer weren't falling for it, or wanting to fall for it, why run the picture at all?

It's a woman holding 2 unspent rounds. Why about 2 bananas next time? It's a picture of nothing and the caption is either intentionally misleading or the work of an idiot.

Posted by: Pablo at August 15, 2007 01:15 PM

If the writer were falling for it, wouldn't he or she write, "which hit her house"?

If they weren't falling for it, well...then you don't file the story if you think its bogus...unless of course you're working for the other side.

Posted by: Purple Avenger at August 15, 2007 01:32 PM

How can you tell it's a woman?

Posted by: Melba Toast at August 15, 2007 01:37 PM

Why would it surprise anyone that al Qaeda has photographers? Nor should it be surprising that the liberals will take the al Qaeda photographers word for what happened.

Posted by: Capitalist Infidel at August 15, 2007 01:38 PM

I do not mean this to be a justification of or support for AP or the photographer, but I do have a comment on the last update describing the rounds as M193 or similar. It is highly unlikely, but possible that the rounds actually are from US forces (though definitely not fired by them). The US military is experimenting with a number of non-standard rounds, such as the 6.8 SPC. As I said, it's possible, though extraordinarily unlikely; the odds favor your conclusion that they are civilian bought and not US rounds.

Posted by: L. Perla at August 15, 2007 01:59 PM

nunaim makes me think that some on the Progrssive Left really DO think "fake but accurate" is a perfectly justifiable way to do (journalism) business....

Posted by: Mark Poling at August 15, 2007 02:51 PM

I own an AR-15HB and in the last ten years I have put at least 15,000 rounds of Federal Brand .223 55gr ammo through it.

Looks just like that.

For what it's worth.

Posted by: James Felix at August 15, 2007 03:11 PM

This isn't just a a photo that just shows ignorance. It appears to show a willful deception using civilian ammunition.

I can't believe you can't write that stuff with a straight face.

Posted by: Xanthippas at August 15, 2007 03:50 PM

It's a picture of nothing and the caption is either intentionally misleading or the work of an idiot.

Or someone who doesn't have the hours in a day it takes to sit around and familiarize themselves with military-grade ammunition because they have...well, more useful things to do then "debunk" a photo as biased.

Posted by: Xanthippas at August 15, 2007 03:55 PM

Doesn't take hours to know the difference between fired and unfired ammunition.

Posted by: CMon at August 15, 2007 04:09 PM

Or someone who doesn't have the hours in a day it takes to sit around and familiarize themselves with military-grade ammunition because they have...well, more useful things to do then "debunk" a photo as biased.

You're kidding, right?

It doesn't take "hours" to learn that unfired bullets don't look like fired ones. Actually, it takes a spectacular brand of idiocy to spend more than a few minutes around firearms, ONCE, and not figure out that bullets, once fired, aren't still attached to the brass cartridge, since the brass part is still there when you're done.

The photog has been in war zones for a while - or so he says. It would be a good way to make some safe money: take an occasional CD full of "free" photos from the bad guys and sell them off to the nearest dimwitted wire service editor.

The only real discussion is what sort of cartridge it is, not whether or not the ones in the photo were unfired.

Posted by: cirby at August 15, 2007 04:12 PM


Quis custodiet ipsos custodes?

Posted by: Rex Luscus at August 15, 2007 04:13 PM


I can't believe that you won't not disbelieve what can't be not written.

In other words, you're an ignorant person.



Posted by: Les Nessman at August 15, 2007 04:15 PM

Civilian 62 grn ammo (civvy version of the 62 grn M855 greentip round, but with a full lead core, no steel tip as found in the M855) would also look the same as the rounds in the picture.

I've got 1,000 rounds of 62 gr .223 ammo sitting in my garage, made by Georgia Arms and Adcom, that looks exactly like that.

Posted by: Heartless Libertarian at August 15, 2007 04:15 PM

To jump on L.Perla's comments it is in theory possible that there could be 55 grain M193 floating around Iraq. I've got "brand new" Lake City milsurp M193 from before it dried up with pretty recent headstamps.

However, in all my years of shooting surplus M193 I've never seen US milsurp ammo that clean. Lake City doesn't care of it's brass is shiney. That's gotta be commercially made.

That stuff in her hand looks like brand new never even loaded in a magazine commercial .223.

Posted by: Spade at August 15, 2007 04:16 PM

The US military is experimenting with a number of non-standard rounds, such as the 6.8 SPC

Experimenting != fielding

That is clearly not a 6.8, it is simply too big.

Posted by: Purple Avenger at August 15, 2007 04:22 PM

Mean to say too small for a 6.8

Posted by: Purple Avenger at August 15, 2007 04:23 PM

Commenters on a sports photographers' board are mocking the picture: "Maybe the bullets were thrown at her house."

Posted by: Dexter Westbrook at August 15, 2007 04:23 PM

So, civilian .223, eh? Well that can only mean one thing - Those dastardly civilian contractors from Blackstone Group threw their ammo at that poor woman's house!

The fiends!

Posted by: Gun Trash at August 15, 2007 04:29 PM

No annealing marks around the neck. That is commercial and not military ammo. Annealing marks are a requirmement of the mil spec to prove the process was done. Even Brit stuff has annealing marks on their 5.56mm ammo. Removing annealing is an extra step that costs money.

Technically that isn't M193 as the mil spec for M193 has annealing marks in it.

The only ones left using the M193 ammo in theater are a few Rear Echelon high drag and low speed zoomies, anyone knocking doors in Sadr City would not be using it.

It would be a hoot if that was IMI ammo she was holding. They make a lot of commercial ammo in that caliber.

BTE, the Brits do not paint the tips on their ammo as they never made the M-193 type ammo. They went straigh to the Belgan SS109 spec which our green tipped M-855 is derived from.

Still, shiney, no annealing, it is commercial.

Posted by: Mike Puckett at August 15, 2007 04:32 PM

In defense of the AFP: it's possible that these bullets were in fact fired, and lodged in a thick block of ballistic gelatin that happened to be coating this woman's house, then taken by the woman and hand-reloaded so that they merely appeared never to have been fired.

This seems to me to be the most likely chain of events.

Posted by: Jonathan at August 15, 2007 04:40 PM

if she really wanted, she could go up to her roof and she'll probably find quite a few fired rounds that have fallen back to ground after every time these retards run out in the street and fire their AKs in the air.

Well, that's literally "hitting the house" isn't it? And another interesting thought about the previous "hitting the bed" shot. I've read that it is very common for Iraqis to sleep on their roofs during the heat of the summer. So if the bed was on the roof, then those "what goes up comes down" bullets could easily end up on a bed...

Posted by: cathyf at August 15, 2007 04:45 PM

One point that should be considered: We have no idea what the woman actually said. All we know is what the photographer said that she said. If he's willing to manufacture a posed picture like this, what makes you think that he's reporting the caption accurately? For all we know, she's saying, "Why do you want me to hold these silly cartridges?"

Posted by: Brown Line at August 15, 2007 04:51 PM

The profile of the bullet looks like M855. It is all polished up, and the case has no annealing marks as stated above, also no green tip. Since its polished, it could have been tarnished, picked up from anywhere and gussied up for the photo(shop).

Eagle 1 (Ohio)

Posted by: Eagle 1 at August 15, 2007 04:58 PM

What else do you expect from AFP? They're Arab-lovin' Zionist-hatin' Frenchies...

Posted by: Dr. Kenneth Noisewater at August 15, 2007 05:00 PM

Les Nessman (Award-winning journalist), you're missing Xantippas' point, namely that *IT'S OKAY TO REPEAT THE LIES OF OTHERS AS IF THEY WERE THE TRUTH SO LONG AS IT ADVANCES YOUR POINT OF VIEW* (well if your point of view is Left, of course). Likewise, it is okay to make up lies from your opponent and continue to loudly insist your opponents lied despite any evidence to the contrary SO LONG AS YOU'RE ON THE LEFT.

It's simple, really, Lying in support of the Greater Truth (which is whatever the Left 'feels' like it ought to be), just remember, Comrade, that (per Comrade Stalin) the Greater Truth may change next week and you must change with it.

Posted by: JorgXMcKie at August 15, 2007 05:05 PM

Oh. My. God.

You won't believe what I found: photographs of questionable veracity on Michael Yon's site.

I mean, at first I thought that they were just photos, but then I noticed that everybody was looking at the camera, and, apparently, that fact throws everything in question. Here, here and here. The people in the photos are looking right at the photographer; there's no freakin' way that these are candid shots. NO WAY!!! Look especially at the third photo. To borrow an analysis posted elsewhere at this site as regards Yon, "The boy in the photo is obviously aware of him. Is this a staged photo?"

I mean, if people know that the photographer is there when a picture is being taken, it is by definition a Left-wing put-up job, right?

Posted by: nunaim at August 15, 2007 05:47 PM

Shorter Xanthippas: "It's a really hard job, so it's okay if they're lame and can't do it".


Posted by: Billy Beck at August 15, 2007 05:52 PM

Andrew Sullivan at Atlantic Online reproduced the picture of the boy taken August 12 by Al-Okali (top photo in this post) without a link or credit to Confederate Yankee and without putting it in the context of photos that may have been staged. Maybe he just liked the photo of a pretty young vulnerable boy. Maybe he thinks the framing is artistic.

Posted by: AnotherYankee at August 15, 2007 06:00 PM

The cartridges in the photo do not have annealed necks; IIRC, the brass cartridge cases on mil spec ammo usually have annealed necks (the narrowed area of the cartridge case which holds the projectile) which turn the neck a grayish-blue, a production step which reduces the possibility of the brass splitting at the case neck during firing. Cartridge cases on non-military ammunition are rarely annealed, although some manufacturers (such as PMC in Korea) seem to anneal most of their 223 Remington (the non-mil designation for the 5.56 X 45 MM cartridge) cases because mil spec and civilian-sale ammunition come off the same assembly line.

Posted by: Homer at August 15, 2007 06:20 PM

Eagle 1 has a good point. Look closely at those cartridges and you can see a dark ring around the projectile just above the neck of the cartridge case. They appear to have been quite tarnished and then recently polished. That could easily remove any annealing discoloration or tip paint but it also indicates that they've been laying around for awhile.

Regardless, they are certainly unfired cartridges and it took a whole chain of gun-clueless idiots to put this photo on the internet with the claim that they hit her house.

BTW, this isn't the same guy who took the photos of the 155 mm artillery round in Pakistan that was supposedly fired from a Predator is it?

Posted by: Swen Swenson at August 15, 2007 06:22 PM

Didn't "Fearless Fosdick" of Andy Capp fame routinely get shot up by bullets still in their casings? Or Don Martin's cartoons in Mad Magazine also would show bullets in their casings blowing a comical hole through someone. But not in real life. What are these people smoking?

Posted by: gk at August 15, 2007 06:34 PM

nunaim, are you really that obtuse, or are you just acting dense to be annoying?

Go back and read what CY wrote about those photos; he said they were self-evidently staged in that the photgrapher conciously and repeatedly used the same (to use his phrase) "through the shattered glass motif." CY's inference is that said staging implies a wish to manipulate or decieve the audience.

Alas, nunaim is stone-dumb enough to think that mis-reading what was written, then applying supposed logic never espoused by CY to Yon's photographs (which are not evidently staged, BTW), then claiming a conclusion which could only be reached by the desperately idiotic... Is what passes as intelligent criticsm. Dolt.

Let me show you how it's done: CY, while the photo of the woman holding the bullets is obviously inaccurate (it always helps to throw a bone to your opponent, nunaim, especially if it's the truth; write that down), it doesn't necessarily follow that the other photographs are questionable. It is equally possible that al-Okaili has a sense of esthetics, albeit a limited and repetitive one. Viewed individually, I would say those shots were well-composed & taken. (see, nunaim? that's called "intelligent disagreement." write that down)

(then, you might want to propose alternatives which would support your disputant's claims; this not only reinforces your own position, but again demonstrates that you're trying to meet him/her halfway. write that down)

Now, if al-Okaili regularly produced photographs of women holding up unfired ammo, or an Afghan man with a Pakistani artillery shell which was claimed to be an American rocket, or of a man lying helpless in the rubble of a building which later turned out to be a helpful bystander who posed for the shot... then you could reasonably claim that the man was deliberately producing propoganda.

That, nunaim, is how you do it. (write that down {g})

Posted by: Casey Tompkins at August 15, 2007 06:40 PM

"Cartridge cases on non-military ammunition are rarely annealed, although some manufacturers (such as PMC in Korea) seem to anneal most of their 223 Remington (the non-mil designation for the 5.56 X 45 MM cartridge) cases because mil spec and civilian-sale ammunition come off the same assembly line."

Commercial producers anneal, they just tumble the brass to remove the discoloration afterwards.

People who do not know what they are looking at will sometimes think the annealing marks are a defect.

Posted by: Mike Puckett at August 15, 2007 06:52 PM

It's a rather old article, but here's one--or at least the relevant opening paragraphs of one--that shows that at least one US paper is similarly clueless about guns:

SOUTH SAN FRANCISCO - KIMBERLY SHRUM grips a Smith & Wesson .357 Magnum revolver and aims at a target 25 yards away.


A hot shell casing hits the floor, joining hundreds of others littering the concrete at Jackson Arms Indoor Shooting Range in South San Francisco.
Who wants to be the first to point out the glaring error in those paragraphs?

Posted by: C-C-G at August 15, 2007 07:17 PM

Oops! Blockquote didn't work that well for some reason (perhaps operator error)... the end of the quote is "...Jackson Arms Indoor Shooting Range in South San Francisco."

Posted by: C-C-G at August 15, 2007 07:18 PM

Even if I didn't know anything about bullets & casings - and suppose I beleived that the entire shell was fired in tact with the bullet.

Doesn't it seem odd (in light of the fairy tail they are trying to pass) that they are still shiny?

The woman claims the bullets hit her house, and yet they are in pristine condition.

Maybe the barrel of the weapon was hyperlubed so that the "bullet" would not be scratched and the womans house was made of pillows so that they would not be dented or marred in any way upon impact...

This is obviously intentional misdirection by the AFP as well as the photog. Nobody with half a brain could be that dense.

Posted by: John at August 15, 2007 07:21 PM

Yes CCG, that article is either written by an ignoramus who doesn't know how a revolver works, or it was edited by someone who cut a line about ejecting six shells, and didn't notice the resulting poor segue. But its stupidity is about two orders of magnitude less than that of the picture in question here.

Posted by: DWPittelli at August 15, 2007 08:57 PM

C-C-G: Revolvers retain the spent casings (which need to be removed as a separate step) after firing while automatics kick them out.... automatically.

So the pretty prose about the casings hitting the floor to join the others would only make sense if the lady was firing a automatic, not that "Smith & Wesson .357 Magnum revolver" as described.

Posted by: Eric E. Coe at August 15, 2007 09:11 PM

Casey, you horse's patoot, I did all that up above. I refuse to take responsibility for your being too stupid, too illiterate, or too lazy to read the whole thread.

Oh, and this:

(which are not evidently staged, BTW)

Are you freakin' kidding me? Did you even bother to look at the pictures?

And finally:

The boy in the photo is obviously aware of him. Is this a staged photo?

CY is using the fact that the boy is aware of the photographer as one criterion for dismissing the photos as questionable or even worthless.

Here's something you can write down, yobbo, if you can find your crayon:

Know what you're talking about before you open your trap.

Posted by: nunaim at August 15, 2007 09:12 PM

And two folks got it right! Revolvers don't eject brass!

Now how'd that slip past the know-it-alls in the media? [/sarc]

Posted by: C-C-G at August 15, 2007 10:00 PM


Posted by: Fandom Wayne at August 15, 2007 10:18 PM

Or, Casey, if the photographer just happened to stumble into the back seat of a ruined, shot-up car to take pictures and a small boy just happened to be walking by at just the right angle to have his head framed in the broken window at the moment the photographer was pointing his camera out of it.

That's also a possibility, ya know. Didn't think of that, did ya?

Oh. And with the exposure set up just right to capture the child's moving well-lit face on the outside of the vehicle, while still maintaining details in the 3/4 tones on the inside of the vehicle. That, too. Though you can fix that in Photoshop pretty quickly if you're more competent than the guy who did the Lebanon photos.

Exactly like Michael Yon's stuff.

Keep reachin', nunaim. There's a longer straw there somewhere.

Posted by: amos at August 15, 2007 10:18 PM

Something else bothers me about the photo of the woman holding up two bullets. The angled bullet on the right is reflecting more lights sources than the other bullet. I could be wrong, (somebody with better photoshop skills than me is free to show me that I am!) I realize it's nitpicky, but it was my second answer as a gun owner and who happens to be a photographer.

Plus, I agree they remind me of my .223 rounds for my ranch rifle, that I can buy as NATO or Chinese surplus ammo.

Posted by: keith at August 15, 2007 10:43 PM

You know its funny the people that want to take over and make everybody else have thier believes they forget that we are not stupid. If a person where to look they would see an adams apple last time I knew women didn't have one so why is a man portrying a woman? And besides those are store bought rounds. I spent to many years in the Army and I never saw rounds that bright they were all dull.

Posted by: True American at August 15, 2007 10:58 PM

Bullet lady might be holding 5.45x39 AK74 round. Thank God for propaganda or we would have nothing to talk about

Posted by: ED at August 16, 2007 12:03 AM

Those rounds are definitely not NATO 5.56, because the cartridges have a slope, like AK-47 ammo. The NATO 5.56, or 2.23 has a straight cartridge - looks like a downsized .30-06, or an even more downsized .50. The rounds shown look like Russian design to me, maybe their new 5.56 round for the rechambered AKs. I know I don't have all my terminology right (I am female, and have only learned some things from being around my boyfriend and his friends, who are hunters), but I am pretty sure I am right about what I am saying because I have seen all the rounds in question. Ciao, Gale

Posted by: Gale at August 16, 2007 12:06 AM

Rex Luscus had a brilliant reply to Xanthippas, “Quis custodiet ipsos ucstodes.” If my weak Latin is correct, that means, “Who guards the Guardians”? I capitalize the second because anyone knowing anything about Greece ought to be familiar with the thought.

This writer spent more than an hour trying to learn as much as I could: the last time I used a firearm was in 1956, during a memorable two-week stay in beautiful South Carolina. I have written a long forum posting at NewsBusters. The photo had to be debunked. Thoroughly. It’s personally pleasing that others here reached similar conclusions, even to the point of suggesting a gelatin-covered house, or, as someone else has written, it was her bed, doubtless also gelatinous.

When I was a newspaper reporter, also long ago, I heard often a rule of journalism, “When in doubt, keep it out.” I twice wrote stories I should not have. Skepticism for me was learned. The shiny quality of the cartridges ought to have warned any editor, anywhere, that the claim was phony and the photo came from a propagandist. It would help to spot the phoniness if one had fired a weapon. But one's eyes and common sense ought to have sufficed.

Also, I looked at the Michael Yon photos nunaim cites. They are NOT “of questionable veracity.” The photos were posed. Of course! They’d HAVE to be. So what? Mr. Yon’s description of those and 30 other photos: “Photographs taken in April and May 2007 while embedded with British Forces in Southern Iraq.” There’s a world of difference between the photos that nunaim referenced and the ones that Mr. al-Okaili took. They are the difference between providing photo records of event participants and photos with participants managed to tell a story. It’s difficult to tell whether nunaim is satirizing someone on the left or is innocently mistaken. I hope it’s the former.

This reminds me of a page of award-winning news photos shown in Miami Beach, which appeared in the Palm Beach Post while I wintered in Boynton Beach. The photo that dominated the page showed people in a plane’s windows looking at a flag-draped casket outside. The faces all were facing the window. They were not all the same size, and I’m not talking about the differences between heads closer to the camera or the differences between male and female heads. This looked like a PhotoShop job. It won an award? Lots of journos didn’t doubt the story the photo tried to tell. These are not journalism’s finest hours.

Posted by: Alfred J. Lemire at August 16, 2007 12:39 AM

I'm neither a gun owner nor an enthusiast and I immediately noticed they were unspent rounds. It's beyond proof that the MSM D-bags will say or do anything to advance their agenda. They simply have no shame...

Posted by: Jeff at August 16, 2007 03:02 AM

But Eric, 'semi-automatic' is the evil word journalists use to scare the clueless, so it is clearly unsuitable in an article about the empowerment of women!

Posted by: Arni at August 16, 2007 05:02 AM

It's clear to me that the two UNFIRED rounds she's holding are .223/5.56mm cartridges, as used in the M16 and M249, but they appear to be M193 55-grain ball rounds, which I don't believe are even ISSUED to Coalition forces anymore (they've all gone to the M855/SS109 semi-AP rounds instead). That dismisses THAT photo as a clear fabrication. The OTHER photo, showing the old woman holding what's presented as a silver-coloured bullet, might actually be legitimate. She seems to be holding the steel bullet CORE from a .50 calibre round, and this ammo is known for shedding its jackets when it strikes buildings, cars, etc., and then ricocheting. I've done plenty of cut-aways, and that's what the cores look like, as seen in this photo:

Posted by: SDC at August 16, 2007 05:57 AM

I just banned Xanthippas after deleting his latest ad hom.

I trust no one objects.

Posted by: Confederate Yankee at August 16, 2007 02:05 PM

My bet: The fraudtographer handed her some commercial rounds for the photo-op.

Those are too shiny (the brass) to be a military round. Cartridges used by the military are dark around the neck due to anneling; the ones used in photos for perspective also emit this discoloration. Those look more like rounds sold in a sporting goods store. Or like to ones that come from my brass polisher after spending some time in ground corncob.

Posted by: Sharpshooter at August 16, 2007 06:10 PM
I just banned Xanthippas after deleting his latest ad hom.

I trust no one objects.

No objections, your honor. Posted by: C-C-G at August 16, 2007 06:40 PM
Also, I looked at the Michael Yon photos nunaim cites. They are NOT “of questionable veracity.” The photos were posed. Of course! They’d HAVE to be. So what?

Well, duh. And the photo of the kid looking through the broken window is posed. So what? I'd bet that the photographer was not pretending to capture the moment that the glass was being broken; he was taking a picture of a frickin' hole.

(It's hard to tell what the photographer had in mind, because the link to the article--if, indeed, the article ever existed--goes to a Yahoo! error page.)

I'll note that I have already gone on record up above as agreeing with CY that it was a visual trope that looks like it's being overused, but if the problem with one of the glass photos is, and here I quote CY, "The boy in the photo is obviously aware of him," then the Yon photo, in which the boy is obviously aware of the photographer, shares that same problem.

As a rational human being, it is my belief, of course, that the subject's awareness of the photographer doesn't negate the validity of the photo. You guys are saying that. But if you're saying that the kid's looking at the photographer invalidates the first picture, then it invalidates them all, regardless of whether or not you agree with the photographer's politics.

Posted by: nunaim at August 16, 2007 09:00 PM

Well said, nunaim. However, I worked eight years as a newspaper reporter, taking sports pictures also at the start of my career. Then I took pictures for a company publication for another 21 years. As I tried to explain, the difference in the posings concerns the intent of the photos. Mr. Yon's photos showed participants in whatever activity he observed while embedded with British troops. One is to think nothing of the people posed other than that they are British troops and an Iraqi boy.

The posings for the other photos show an Iraqi boy and an old man posed to look through or at damaged property. I don't think they were intended to show anything of the depredations of Sunni or Shia or, as I suspect, really nonreligious Arabs. Here, the shattered glass is intended to symbolize the destruction wrought by the U.S. forces. The photos, all carefully posed and set up, advance that story line. I would feel better about this if I saw photos showing what the murderers have done to Iraqis (and servicemen and women). Say, a photo of mothers wailing after some suicide bomber blew himself or herself to Hell and took a passel of four-year-old boys and girls away, for their journey to Heaven.

Posted by: Alfred J. Lemire at August 16, 2007 10:45 PM

I've seen this exact photograph before.

Except she wasn't holding two unfired civilian .223 rounds.

She was holding the iron core of a .50 BMG round.

At some point, this image has been photoshopped - be it by people trying to lend credibility to this woman's claims, or trying to make her story sound absurd - I know not.

I'm honestly leaning towards the latter, because something just doesn't look right about those two rounds.

Posted by: Magic at August 16, 2007 11:59 PM

What's wrong with the way those two rounds look is that the direction of the reflected light does not match the tilt of the right-hand one, and the contrast and reflectance of the two look radically different. As though at least one of them was cut-and-pasted from elsewhere.

By my eye, the light direction on both cartridges does not match the light direction that you see on the wall behind the woman. The light on her is diffuse, while the light on the brass appears "hard."

More interesting to me is the woman herself. I don't have the photos on hand for comparison, but she reminds me very much of a woman who was depicted months ago as having lost her house to bombing. You might recall there were photos that showed the same woman weeping over her loss, in front of two entirely different wrecked buildings. This would have been back before all the faked Reuters photos were revealed.

Posted by: Blogger1947 at August 18, 2007 10:56 AM