July 16, 2008


Remember this picture from yesterday?

It is still on Yahoo's photostream with the (still active) caption:

US soldiers secure the area at a newly installed check-point at the Babadag training facility in Tulcea, Iraq. A string of suicide attacks against Iraqi security forces killed at least 37 people on Tuesday, including 28 when two suicide bombers blew themselves up among a crowd of army recruits, security officials said. (AFP/Daniel Mihailescu)

Sharp-eyed CY reader BohicaTwentyTwo pointed out the obvious visual clues that the photo and caption quite simply doesn't match up.

The soldiers in the photos were wearing MILES (Multiple Integrated Laser Engagement System) training equipment, and the blank-firing adapters on the end of each weapon (more obvious on the bright red adapter on the M4 in the foreground, though the pull-ring on the MG's black-firing adapter in the turret in the background was also clearly visible).

As blank-firing MILES training gear makes it impossible to "secure" anything, it was obvious that the photo was mis-captioned. A second look at the photo also revealed that an obsolete BDU woodland camo pattern was mixed with the new ACU camo pattern used by the Army, and the HMMWV in the photo was an unarmored version also painted in woodland, whereas the HMMWV presently deployed to Iraq is the desert tan up-armored version. Even the foliage in the background seemed suspect. A quick scan of photographer Daniel Mihailescu's work also placed him in Romania less than five days earlier. How did he get to an obscure corner of Iraq so quickly?

I was quick to blame the AFP for this error (considering their history of photo captioning errors, it was a reasonable assumption), but as slublog first noted in the comments at Hot Air, the caption above was not the caption that ran with the original photo.

This was (click here for larger).

The caption sent out by AFP (as was the screen cap sent by AFP above as evidence) read:

ROMANIA, BABADAG : US soldiers secure the area at a new installed check-point at Babadag training facility in the county of Tulcea, during a joint task force-east rotation 2008 training exercise, on July 14, 2008. Over 900 US military personnel participates at the training exercise meant to train US and Romanian soldiers in simulated combat situations as well as improving the mixt [sic]team working capabilities on the war fields like Iraq and Afganistan. AFP PHOTO / DANIEL MIHAILESCU

The photo in question had nothing to do with the events in Iraq. As noted above, the Babadag training facility in the county of Tulcea is in the country of Romania.

This photo:

  1. Was recaptioned by Yahoo;
  2. Was recaptioned to associate it with events that occurred roughly 1,500 miles away, and a day later;
  3. Did not be long in Yahoo's "Iraq" photostream at all.

We knew before that the originators and publishers/end users can fake photos and/or captions to create fauxtography.

Thanks to Yahoo's caption manipulation, we now know we have to worry about the middlemen as well.

Posted by Confederate Yankee at July 16, 2008 09:00 AM

That's nuts! And kinda makes me angry. I mean how is the general public supposed to know it is being misled?

Posted by: Kat at July 16, 2008 11:06 AM

The new media motto, 'anything to make a lie appear true'.

Posted by: Scrapiron at July 16, 2008 11:23 AM

What was their motive? Just laziness by the Yahoo employees, who needed an Iraq photo and thought they'd make it up? That's my guess.

Posted by: Bradley J. Fikes at July 16, 2008 02:53 PM

The left will do anything to smear our troops

Posted by: Capitalist Infidel at July 16, 2008 03:23 PM

I wonder what action AFP will take against Yahoo for altering their content? I cannot imagine they are too happy about that - that's their turf!

Posted by: Mikey NTH at July 16, 2008 05:14 PM

I've asked Yahoo why they faked the caption on a picture which so clearly shows a training exercise in Romania, not a battleground in Iraq.

I don't expect an answer.

Posted by: Troika37 at July 17, 2008 09:35 AM