TCS Daily


News You Can Abuse

By Rand Simberg - August 14, 2006 12:00 AM

The venerable Reuters news agency was caught last week publishing a faked photo. There are at present several disturbing things about the incident and what it means for the future of news.

First, it wasn't the first time that such fakery has occurred in the so-called mainstream media, and the phenomenon doesn't seem to be random, as it might be if it were a simple mistake, or breakdown in the vetting process. The fabricated images always seem to have the effect, intended or otherwise, of propagandizing against the West (in this case, the state of Israel, in the other example, President Bush).

The second thing that was disturbing is that, also like the previous cases, it took bloggers to point out what should have been an obvious tampering with the photo. Are major media editors really that incompetent (which gets back, of course, to disturbing concern Numero Uno)? This last isn't an unreasonable question, given that this is the news agency that famously said that "one man's terrorist is another man's freedom fighter."

While Reuters deserves credit for immediately announcing to their distributors that the photo was questionable, and cutting off any further contributions from the (Arab) free-lance photographer who provided it, there is, actually, a third disturbing thing about it -- what it presages for the future.

Humans have short memories, and most people don't realize that the concept of photography as a component of a news story is only a century and a half old, introduced most vividly when Matthew Brady shocked the nation with grisly battlefield photos from Antietam in 1862, using primitive but, for the time, effective techniques. Prior to that, newspapers were the media, and if they had visuals at all, they were sketches, inked into the story from carved stamps. Interestingly, the Wall Street Journal still employs modern versions of this, at least on its front page.

But photos have, rightly or wrongly, in fact become one of the means by which we now judge whether a news story is credible. Just as juries -- mistakenly, given the reliability -- accept eyewitness testimony as more important than circumstantial evidence, we believe that cameras don't lie. And in the age of analog photography, generally speaking, they don't.

But we no longer live in an age of analog photography.

The "fauxtography" in question in the Reuters case was of the digital variety. In fact, it would not have been possible to "clone" a part of the picture into itself -- which was what was done in this case, to make Israeli bombing seem more comprehensive and worse than the original lens revealed -- in the old analog film days; or, at least, it would have been much more difficult. The photo has been characterized in various new outlets as "photoshopped," (a description that the Adobe company is likely as upset about as when the Xerox or Kleenex companies hear their name used in a generic manner, as a "copy" or "facial tissue," respectively.) That doesn't mean that the fauxtographer literally used the Adobe Photoshop program to modify the image, though he may well have, because there are numerous programs available that would do the job well enough. In fact, people who use the Linux operating system usually get a Photoshop clone (called, for arcane reasons, "The GIMP") with their distribution, for free.

Which should be even more disturbing.

When every picture is no longer a negative that can be handed over to an authenticator, but is rather a pattern of bits on a memory card, manipulation becomes not only possible, but inevitable. While the cases of Rathergate and this latest anti-Israel propaganda were crude and easy to spot -- at least by people who weren't professional news editors -- it won't be so easy in the future, given the way the technology is advancing, in both ease of use and availability.

The photographer in this case was sloppy, either because (a) he didn't know what he was doing (likely), and/or (b) didn't think that his editor would be sufficiently burdened with clue to notice (sadly, quite possible, and a reasonable guess, given the fact that it took the blogosphere to reveal it) and/or (c) thought the editor would share his agenda, and not mind that much, if (again, the cluelessness bit comes in here again) no one else would notice (sadly, this scenario is all too plausible as well).

But what if the photographer was as good with photoshop as the web professional who exposed him? What if he knew how to fake the photo in such a way that it would not only be not obvious, but difficult to discern that it was a fake? As tools advance -- and the recent spate of CGI movies from Hollywood and other film centers should demonstrate this explosion of technology -- and people, including unscrupulous and ideological people, learn to use them, it will in fact be much more difficult to know whether or not a published picture accurately represents the event that it purports to show.

How, then, to know if a published photo is, in a paraphrase of the old commercial, real, or Memorex?

There are no obvious easy solutions to this problem, other than the traditional ones for validating evidence -- chains of custody. Press photographers could be required to use certified cameras that time stamp pictures in an encrypted way that doesn't permit modifying the stamp. They could go to accredited image processors who would verify the validity of the original picture from the camera (perhaps even uploading it to a certified notary storage site), and describe any image processing they performed, at risk of loss of accreditation if they pull any funny business. This would, of course, come at a cost, in both dollars for the intermediary and (more importantly for the news business) timeliness. Unfortunately, in the wake of this and other news bias scandals, any news organization that doesn't pull in the reins on its stringers and freelancers, and implement a solution like this, is going to suffer in credibility as time goes on.

And of course, it's not just an issue for the MSM. If the blogosphere wants to continue to build its own credibility, and self-publish home-grown photos (and videos) as part of its own increasing range of reporting, it will have to institute similar measures. Like many problems, this may in fact represent an enormous market opportunity.

Rand Simberg is a TCS Daily contributor. Find more of his writing here.

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178 Comments

Journalistic fraud
Let's take a closer look at the nature of the fraud. Was it a picture of an ordinary, peaceful cityscape with the smoke of war added? Or was it a picture of a bombed city, with extra smoke added?

The photographer has been rightly blacklisted from the business forever-- you just can't do things like that. But the effect his unmasking has had is to make all the extremists feel free to claim that any evidence being presented that atrocities are occurring has been doctored. All the videos, eyewitness accounts, the interviews with survivors, the hospital visits, the legitimate coverage of the wreckage this war has created-- all are somehow made suspect by this one photograph. Too easy.

Journalism has high standards for accuracy, and is self correcting once an abuse is discovered. By all means let's look for lies wherever we can detect them. But let's look on both, or all, sides of the issue and not just the side we would like to disbelieve.

Some Side Notes
On the weblog side, we may see more cross-checking of the sort demonstrated with reviews of the Qana photographs, possibly through compare/contrast sets on batch photo sites like flickr. It would be interesting to see a wiki devoted to photo reviews.

On the wire service side, I'm not sure that editors compare submissions from multiple photographers but it would be a good idea for the wire services to advertise these measures.

Staging may be more difficult to detect but I expect consumer-side demand for at least one wide angle shot of a disaster area to be included in every photo series.

Last, a ton of image analysis software has been created over the last ten years in the areas of medicine and face recognition. I suspect that some blogger somewhere will uncover software that can detect copy/ paste events and simple photoshop distortions across batches of photographs.

That's the Risk you Take
"But the effect his unmasking has had is to make all the extremists feel free to claim that any evidence being presented that atrocities are occurring has been doctored. "

That is why you are not supposed to cry "wolf" in the first place. If Hezb'Allah has now been pigeonholed so that nobody takes them seriously anymore, it is justly deserved. This was just one of scores of faked or staged photos coming out of this conflict. To excuse it and ignore the endemic propaganda MO of this terrorist group is to encourage it and to negate any sense of objectivity. Personally, I will tend to believe the words of those who have not resorted to such tactics and I have no qualms whatsoever that I am justified in doing so.

Journalistic fraud
I agree in part with the comments of Roy Bean that one should look at the overall editing of the picture and place it in context. For example, the cropping or lab adjustments of news photos has been common since the advent of photography. The rub is when those pictures are edited to depict a false illusion or to outright fabricate reality.


To me what is more disturbing are the voluminous number of photos being published in the mainstream media that have been shown to be clearly staged. The media is more than happy to take these photos at face value without questioning their veracity so long as it fits their agenda.

This manipulation by the media has been going on for decades but is only now being challenged by the blogsphere with it's tens of thousands of photo and document experts of which no newspaper or wire service can compete.


If the media were smart they would embrace the blogs and use their talents to verify and fact check. Had CBS done that Rathergate and Reutergate would never had occured.


But, of course, this assumes that the media wants to know the truth. And we all know what that answer is.

How will you see it if you don't believe it is happening?
>"All the videos, eyewitness accounts, the interviews with survivors, the hospital visits, the legitimate coverage of the wreckage this war has created-- all are somehow made suspect by this one photograph."

They are not made suspect from one photograph Roy, but of several. The videos are made suspect because many of them are staged. The casualty counts that are cut in half or mysteriously fall from 40 to 1. The so-called legitimate coverage of the wreckage has been dictated by Hezbollah "press secretaries" that point at things that you must photograph including things that CNN's Cooper Anderson were "obvious propaganda" but which were filmed anyway.

So try not to make it sound like this one photo is what "extremists", those who disagree with you, are using to question the validity of those accounts you would rather run with. Like your hospital story for example. You ran with propaganda and it made you look gullible and ignorant.

>"Journalism has high standards for accuracy, and is self correcting once an abuse is discovered. By all means let's look for lies wherever we can detect them. But let's look on both, or all, sides of the issue and not just the side we would like to disbelieve."

High standards is laughable considering the highly biased culture of the MSM. Perhaps if they were not so eager to influence politics they could check their facts. Just take a look at Keller's (NYT) lie about the timing of the release of the terrorist surveillance story by Risen. The cases of political motivation trumping facts are legion.

Your appeal to look for such deception on both sides rings true although your motivations behind this are not as noble. So please, provide some instances from the "other side". I am eager to see them.

Accuracy in media
You've made several allegations I don't think you can support.

1) "Hezb'Allah has now been pigeonholed so that nobody takes them seriously anymore."

Hezbollah came into the conflict politically marginalized within Lebanon. They now have all factions of Lebanese politics firmly behind them, with the exception of the Druse community. Most commentary believes they have gained, not lost, in the encounter.

2) "This was just one of scores of faked or staged photos coming out of this conflict."

We've seen one. Now show us a second one-- out of those "scores of faked or staged photos".

3. "To excuse it and ignore the endemic propaganda MO of this terrorist group is to encourage it and to negate any sense of objectivity."

Gee, do you mean Hezbollah is reading the forum at TCS to find encouraging comments? I had no idea.

I have not and do not excuse any faked, distorted or disinformational photos, stories or anything else that finds its way onto the web or other media. I don't care who put it out or what cause it supports, I'm against all lies.

The preeminent lie, of course, is that Israel is not devastating Lebanon as a conscious tactic to achieve their aims. The target is not merely Hezbollah rocket launches, it is the people of Lebanon, who are being deliberately terrorized in a campaign of mass destruction.

BTW Israel does report civilian deaths inside Israel accurately. They have to.

roy and his strawmen
Nobody has ever said that every piece of evidence that supports the jihadists was fraudulent.

That certain high profile incidents proved to be frauds sticks in your craw, doesn't it.

innaccuracy in roy
1) "They now have all factions of Lebanese politics firmly behind them, with the exception of the Druse community."

This is based on one faulty poll any your wishfull thinking.

2) "We've seen one. Now show us a second one-- "

The whole Qana incident. Green Helmet man. The blown up bridge photos, with the mysteriously moving car.
The pictures of building with captions indicating that it keeps getting blown up, weeks apart.
Dead man sitting up. Bodies with rigormortis, though they've only been dead a short time.
The list goes on and on. The fact that you choose to not see them does not mean they aren't there.

3) "Gee, do you mean Hezbollah is reading the forum at TCS to find encouraging comments?"

Are you actually stupid enough to believe that TCS is the only place usefull idiots such as yourself post?
This is just another of you pathetic strawmen.

No roy, it is you that claims that a) Israel is devasting Lebanon, and that b) such devastation is an intentional tactic.
Both are easily proven lies, but you don't care. The truth doesn't help your agenda, so the truth must be discarded and those who try to point out the truth must be attacked.

And again, the full scope of the Reuter's Fraud...
The full scope of the Reuter's fraud, from Zombie Time.

This is an excellent "photo essay" of what happened, and the main site has photos of the protests in the Bearlkey/San Feancisco area. Enlightening.

http://www.zombietime.com/reuters_photo_fraud/

It's important to understand that there is not just a single fraudulent Reuters photograph, nor even only one kind of fraudulent photograph. There are in fact dozens of photographs whose authenticity has been questioned, and they fall into four distinct categories.

The four types of photographic fraud perpetrated by Reuters photographers and editors are:

1. Digitally manipulating images after the photographs have been taken.

2. Photographing scenes staged by Hezbollah and presenting the images as if they were of authentic spontaneous news events.

3. Photographers themselves staging scenes or moving objects, and presenting photos of the set-ups as if they were naturally occurring.

4. Giving false or misleading captions to otherwise real photos that were taken at a different time or place.

Can we please stop rounding up the usual MSM suspects
The stock in trade of media is credibility. If they are burned by faked documents, they have essentially lost part of their equity. The visions hatched by right-wing ideologues of politicized editors hatching plots to further partisan agendas is pure paranoia.

Yes, mistakes are made, and yes reporters or photographers sometimes blow it. But the consequences for doing this are much heavier in media than in most other professions, just because it affects the bottom line and the top brass. I just wish Donald Rumsfeld's boss were as intolerant of misrepresentation and screwups as Reuters is.

Never.
no lemmy, never. Why don't you admit your own bias? It looks bad for the left wing and terorists, so you forgive it. It looks good for Bush, and you can't stand that.

You want to smear Bush in every way possible, even through forgeries. It appears that you and th eleft can't stand truth.

Here's a suggestion
You say what you believe, I say what I believe.

I don't need you to tell me what I think. When you do, you get it wrong.

>You want to smear Bush in every way possible, even through forgeries.

What I strongly believe is reporting the truth about what Bush is doing will discredit him more than any made-up smear. It's a very target-rich environment. Let the facts be known, and let the people judge.

>Why don't you admit your own bias?

Why don't you admit yours??

It'll be hard to do.
Photoshop can show all of the layers on a picture, but usually only if it is on the originating computer. Make a copy, e-mail it, the layers become so embedded you can lose the history.

Lately, the "editors" have been so quick to release a story and photographs just so they can get the "scoop". It looks like "get the scoop, facts be dammed." If it weren't for the bloggers, and this site, the story would remain buried by the MSM.

And speaking of accuracy...
So we have you holding that any media mistake - however frankly acknowledged and however many people are fired because of it - is a mark of bias.

But when the administration makes statements that are not only later proven false but which investigation indicates were known to be dubious at the time they were made, you give them a free pass. The "16 words" about Iraqi uranium are one example, the allegations about aluminum tubing are another, the mobile weapons labs are a third, and the list goes on forever.

This wasn't "reporting," this was deliberate misinformation. But you have no problem with it. Instead, you jump up and down about how Jayson Blair proves that the New York Times is a lying, poisonous propaganda organ out to get George Bush. It's getting really old, and I don't say this because I "hate" George Bush, but because I love this country and think it's suffering under his leadership.

I don't distort my bias.
Your lefties are being drug through the dirt, and all you can say is "Can we please stop..."

No. Until you stop supporting the terrorists and their anti-American BIAS, Never. So far, the MSM can't seem to report the truth to discredit Bush. You can't stand that.

If you stop rounding up Rumsfeld
>"The stock in trade of media is credibility. If they are burned by faked documents, they have essentially lost part of their equity. The visions hatched by right-wing ideologues of politicized editors hatching plots to further partisan agendas is pure paranoia."

The mountains of evidence of MSM incompetence and/or complicity with the Hezbollah propaganda machine can't seem to cut through your willfully ignorant denial.

The bias is there to be seen by all and it is hard to deny that it exists. One does not need to be paranoid to see it but one needs to be a complete idiot to deny its existence. The MSM is burning through what credibility they still possess at an alarming rate. Luckily they still have liberals, like yourself, and leftists in the audience who are looking for news sources that are willfully altering the facts to conform to their world view. Enjoy.

>"Yes, mistakes are made, and yes reporters or photographers sometimes blow it."

I guess willfully altering and staging photos is now an innocent "Oops!" in your eyes?

>"But the consequences for doing this are much heavier in media than in most other professions, just because it affects the bottom line and the top brass."

NOW the consequences are much heavier because NOW people are catching the lies and staged/altered photos and stories. The MSM is still of a mind that they are above their audience and that they will not be questioned. Such hubris is now getting the penalties that it deserves: ruined careers, lost revenue, and tarnished reputations.

>"I just wish Donald Rumsfeld's boss were as intolerant of misrepresentation and screwups as Reuters is."

Yet another tired distraction. If you can't debate the topic, create a different one huh? So very lame of you. I am sure Bush keeps Rumsfeld because he does not misrepresent his work nor does he screw up.

You can pursue this lame tactic if you wish but it just shows that you are a partisan hack and not really interested in the fact that your news and information is being altered and misrepresented to you. Perhaps that is how you come to such moronic assumptions about Rumsfeld: you go with what the MSM tells you about him.

If you were smart you would question even those news sources that agree with your preconceived notions. Or just keep on pursuing Rumsfeld and accept everything CNN, Rueters, the NYT, and the AP tells you. Really, what do they have to gain by lying to you?

No Subject


>The mountains of evidence of MSM incompetence and/or complicity with the Hezbollah propaganda machine can't seem to cut through your willfully ignorant denial.

Why not be specific? Here's a story from yesterday's New York Times, examining the issue. You tell us how this indicates bias>

"Wars in the modern media age often come complete with their own journalistic difficulties.

Although doctored and stage-managed photographs out of Lebanon garnered their share of headlines last week, they are just a part of a larger, underlying issue: the role of images in fairly portraying the conflict incited nearly five weeks ago by Hezbollah’s raid into Israel and its kidnapping of two soldiers.

Particularly vexing for many American news organizations is the struggle to determine how and in what proportion images of civilian dead and injured should be displayed in their coverage, when one side’s casualties greatly surpass the other.

The journalistic calculus is made tougher by the involvement of the Arab-Israeli conflict, a topic that bedevils news editors like no other, and an organization, Hezbollah, that is considered a terrorist group by the United States government. But the decision-making becomes even more fraught because of the power of photographs and TV images, which are evocative — and provocative — in ways the written and spoken word are not.

“Still photos and TV images are what sway people,” said Jane Arraf, the Edward R. Murrow press fellow at the Council on Foreign Relations, whose eight-year tenure at CNN included a stint as Baghdad bureau chief. “At the end of the day, people retain very simple images in their minds when they’re not really engaged or focused on an issue.”

http://www.nytimes.com/2006/08/14/business/media/14balance.html?_r=1&ref=business&oref=slogin

> I am sure Bush keeps Rumsfeld because he does not misrepresent his work nor does he screw up.

Excuse me, but the invasion of Iraq is about as deeply screwed up an operation as we have in American military history, and Rumsfeld's role in it has been minutely documented, most recently in a new book, "Fiasco." "Washington Post Pentagon correspondent Ricks (Making the Corps) contends that, under Rumsfeld, Wolfowitz and Feith, the Pentagon concocted 'the worst war plan in American history,' with insufficient troops and no thought for the invasion's aftermath. Thus, an under-manned, unprepared U.S. military stood by as chaos and insurgency took root, then responded with heavy-handed tactics that brutalized and alienated Iraqis. Based on extensive interviews with American soldiers and officers as well as first-hand reportage, Ricks's detailed, unsparing account of the occupation paints a woeful panorama of reckless firepower, mass arrests, humiliating home invasions, hostage-taking and abuse of detainees. It holds individual commanders to account, from top generals Tommy Franks and Ricardo Sanchez on down."

To write the book, Ricks did hundreds of interviews. But it's all just a political hit job, of course -- anyone who looks at Iraq can see what a great success that's been.

Yes, let's speak of accuracy...
>"So we have you holding that any media mistake - however frankly acknowledged and however many people are fired because of it - is a mark of bias."

Yes, I would call the intentional alteration of photos, and staging such photos, bias. They can sacrifice as many scapegoats as they wish and yet they still seem to produce more propaganda. Go figure.

>"But when the administration makes statements that are not only later proven false but which investigation indicates were known to be dubious at the time they were made, you give them a free pass."

Give more examples. I don't give a free pass on lies as you should well know, but I do demand proof. I have proof of media bias and the slanting of their stories.

>"The "16 words" about Iraqi uranium are one example, the allegations about aluminum tubing are another, the mobile weapons labs are a third, and the list goes on forever."

The 16 words are proven true and Wilson has been proven a liar and a political hack. Not to mention the massive amount of documents that prove the seeking of dual-use technology and the continued research into WMDs. Not to mention that some of those documents prove that Saddam had mobile labs and that some crossed over into Syria. I have provided links to the actual documents before. To say these are lies is to be a liar yourself.

>"This wasn't "reporting," this was deliberate misinformation. But you have no problem with it. Instead, you jump up and down about how Jayson Blair proves that the New York Times is a lying, poisonous propaganda organ out to get George Bush. It's getting really old, and I don't say this because I "hate" George Bush, but because I love this country and think it's suffering under his leadership."

And now you lie about your intentions. This is all about your hatred for GWB. You hate the fact that the MSMs anti-Bush, anti-Israel, and anti-American bias has been showcased for all to see.

Your argument boils down to this: you THINK Bush is harming America, which you claim to love, so we should ignore all evidence of biased, false, and misleading reporting. Tell me, if the media has to create and distort news in order to prove this doesn't make you second guess that thesis?

I am sure that it does not.

Supporting terrorists? How??
I mean, who is in favor of terror? Hillary Clinton? The New York Times? This is ridiculous.

>Your lefties are being drug through the dirt, and all you can say is "Can we please stop...

I have no problem with specific actions being held up to close examination. But broadbrush noise about MSM bias conspiracy to make the US look bad are ridiculous.

here's a story from yesterday's New York Times about problems invovled in the coverage of the war in Lebanon. You explain what they have wrong.

Wars in the modern media age often come complete with their own journalistic difficulties.

Although doctored and stage-managed photographs out of Lebanon garnered their share of headlines last week, they are just a part of a larger, underlying issue: the role of images in fairly portraying the conflict incited nearly five weeks ago by Hezbollah’s raid into Israel and its kidnapping of two soldiers.

Particularly vexing for many American news organizations is the struggle to determine how and in what proportion images of civilian dead and injured should be displayed in their coverage, when one side’s casualties greatly surpass the other.

The journalistic calculus is made tougher by the involvement of the Arab-Israeli conflict, a topic that bedevils news editors like no other, and an organization, Hezbollah, that is considered a terrorist group by the United States government. But the decision-making becomes even more fraught because of the power of photographs and TV images, which are evocative — and provocative — in ways the written and spoken word are not.

http://www.nytimes.com/2006/08/14/business/media/14balance.html?_r=1&ref=business&oref=slogin

>So far, the MSM can't seem to report the truth to discredit Bush. You can't stand that.

The truth has come out quite clearly, as Bush's credibility ratings show. I think it's you who can't stand that.

Sure, let's talk about it
who are you accusing.

>Yes, I would call the intentional alteration of photos, and staging such photos, bias.

Except the papers didn't alter or pose the photos. Photographers now out of a job permanently did.

>he 16 words are proven true and Wilson has been proven a liar and a political hack.

the 16 words have not been proven true. They were retracted from Bush's speech. The British government has made face-saving noises, but there is still no evidence Iraq tried to buy uranium in Niger. The only tangible evidence was a grossly forged document. And yes, a Republican caucus report said Wilson was wrong. That is not the same is saying Wilson has been "proved a liar."

> Not to mention that some of those documents prove that Saddam had mobile labs and that some crossed over into Syri

First of all, the documents are dubious. Second, whatever labs they might have referred to were not the ones that we found and said were mobile BW labs. Third, we have two complete reports, Kay & Duelfer about WMDs that say the whole thing was bogus.

Fourth and most important: if it was the New York Times that was this wrong, you wouldn't be hunting the floorboard cracks for a particle of truth in the lie. You'd be shouting for their heads.

>ou THINK Bush is harming America, which you claim to love, so we should ignore all evidence of biased, false, and misleading reporting.

I absolutely do not think that. The two issues are completely separate. Yes, I think Bush is harming America, but no I do not think we should ever ignore evidence of biased, false or misleading reporting from any source. And there's no contradiction in those two beliefs.

>Tell me, if the media has to create and distort news in order to prove this doesn't make you second guess that thesis?

You're arguing in a circle: you're assuming what you have to establish.

Here's what Wolfowitz' top mlitary advisor, a general, says about Rumsfeld
but, sure, the media mistakes are the big problem...


"Responsibility for Iraq fiasco, wrongdoing lies with Rumsfeld
By John Batiste

There is a direct link between the alleged atrocities in Al-Hadithah and Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld. His poor decisions and bad judgment in 2003 and 2004 are the root causes for the prolonged challenge we now face. Al-Hadithah is but a symptom of a much bigger problem.

The secretary of defense got the war in Iraq terribly wrong, and he did not set the conditions for success. He rejected the existence of the insurgency, which was an absolute certainty, and sent America to war with insufficient resources to accomplish the mission. Remember that he alone is responsible for what happens or fails to happen in the Department of Defense.

The news of Abu Musab al-Zarqawi's demise is certainly good news, but we must remember that Zarqawi was but a cog in a very complex insurgency that the secretary of defense's plan allowed to take root, grow and expand to what it is today. This is all about competency and accountability. This is all about what is good for our country.

I am a two-time combat veteran in Iraq with many years of experience in peace-enforcement operations in Bosnia and Kosovo. My only motivation in speaking out is our great country, our incredible military and their terrific families. I left the military after 31 years of service despite a promising career and promotion in order to speak out, to turn the lights on in a very dark room. I am honor bound to continue to do so. I have been a lifelong Republican.

America went to war in Iraq with the secretary of defense's plan. He ignored the U.S. Central Command's deliberate planning and strategy, dismissed honest dissent and browbeat subordinates to build his plan, which did not address the hard work to crush the insurgency, secure a post-Saddam Iraq, build the peace and set Iraq up for self-reliance. He refused to acknowledge and even ignored the potential for the insurgency.

Bottom line, his plan allowed the insurgency to take root and grow to where it is today. Our great military lost a critical window of opportunity to secure Iraq because of inadequate troop levels and the decision to stand down the Iraqi security forces.

In the early days of the campaign, we needed at least 380,000 coalition forces in addition to the Iraqi security forces to impose security and prevent the insurgency. We were undermanned by a factor of at least three and could not secure the country during a very crucial period.

We were certainly successful in the short term, but the minute we completed the mission and redeployed forces back to where they came from, insurgents reoccupied the vacuum and the cycle repeated itself. In addition, forces returning to familiar territory found themselves fighting to reoccupy ground that had once been secure. I am reminded of the myth of Sisyphus.

This is no way to fight a counterinsurgency. The secretary of defense's plan did not set our military up for success. He squandered an opportunity early on to nip the insurgency in the bud. Al-Hadithah should not be a surprise to any of us. Our Army and Marine Corps remain under-resourced and overcommitted.

The secretary of defense's decision to stand down the Iraqi military resulted in uncontrollable chaos and the dismantling of the extensive Iraqi security force infrastructure that we are still working to rebuild today. This decision gave the insurgency an unlimited supply of manpower, weapons and ammunition.

The work to rebuild the Iraqi army and police became that much harder, and we have yet to recover. We are now into our fourth year with continued chaos, Al-Hadithah, Abu Ghurayb, 2,477 dead and 17,869 wounded Americans, and up to $9 billion spent every month. We continue to bleed our national treasure in blood and dollars. It did not need to be this way. What should have been a deliberate victory is now a protracted challenge.

The secretary of defense does not understand the human dimension of warfare. The mission in Iraq is all about breaking the cycle of violence, building relationships and the hard work to change attitudes and give the Iraqi people alternatives to the insurgency. This requires boots on the ground in sufficient quantity to establish security, intimidate the insurgent, protect lines of communication and the oil infrastructure, train the Iraqi security forces and control the borders. You cannot do this with precision bombs from 30,000 feet. This is tough, dangerous and very personal work. Numbers count.

Based upon all the above, the secretary of defense is not a competent wartime leader. He knows everything, except how to win. He surrounds himself with like-minded and compliant subordinates who do not grasp the importance of the principles of war, the complexities of Iraq or the human dimension of warfare.

The American people deserve accountability, and it is time for change. Victory hangs in the balance.

JOHN BATISTE, a retired major general, commanded the Army's 1st Infantry Division, both in Iraq and in Kosovo. Before that, he was the senior military assistant to then-Deputy Secretary of Defense Paul Wolfowitz. He is now president of Klein Steel Services in Rochester, N.Y. He wrote this article for Knight Ridder.

Indeed, "No subject" never stopped you from spouting off
So pick a single article and ask where the bias is huh? I can show you a great example from this very article:

>"“Still photos and TV images are what sway people,” said Jane Arraf, the Edward R. Murrow press fellow at the Council on Foreign Relations, whose eight-year tenure at CNN included a stint as Baghdad bureau chief."

Jane Arraf was in charge of the Baghdad bureau while CNN was allowing Saddam to approve and alter their news reports to show him in a favorable light as part of an deal to allow CNN to cover Iraq.

Does THAT count as the willful altering of news coverage?

Also notice this:

>"Although doctored and stage-managed photographs out of Lebanon garnered their share of headlines last week, they are just a part of a larger, underlying issue: the role of images in fairly portraying the conflict incited nearly five weeks ago by Hezbollah’s raid into Israel and its kidnapping of two soldiers."

Like you, the NYT is dodging the issue. The issue changes from staged and altered photos to the "role of images in fairly portraying the conflict". I suppose you didn't catch that since they used your favored tactic.

Once again buddy, read your article before you post it. You look like a complete tool.

So I should take the opinion of a Washington Post reporter on the success of the Iraq War? Oh hey, he did hundreds of interviews! I am quite sure it paints an accurate picture.

No thanks. I have better things to read. If you don't want to see the masterful execution of the initial war that's fine. If you don't want to understand that 25 million people were freed from a tyrant, had 3 elections with excellent voter turnout under extreme conditions, created a democratic government of their own, and who are fighting for that freedom from insurgent forces and civil strife then you don't understand much.

Just keep saying you don't suffer from Bush-hate. Like media bias it is pretty obvious to the casual observer.

So?
This man is entitled to his opinions as are any other military personnel. History has not made a judgment on the Iraq War as of yet.

>"but, sure, the media mistakes are the big problem..."

No, the media willfully altering and staging the news is the big problem. If you believe taking orders from Hezbollah on how to photograph a scene is a mistake then your language comprehension skills are more degraded than previously known.

This doesn't make a case
I mean, where are you coming from on this?


>Jane Arraf was in charge of the Baghdad bureau while CNN was allowing Saddam to approve and alter their news reports to show him in a favorable light as part of an deal to allow CNN to cover Iraq.

No, CNN was not allowing Saddam to censor or alter news reports. CNN did make a conscious decision not to do stories that they knew would get them kicked out. This was controversial, and not the dcisions everyone would make, but it did not turn them into Saddam advocates. And she is just quoted as one voice among many

>"Although doctored and stage-managed photographs out of Lebanon garnered their share of headlines last week, they are just a part of a larger picture.

In fact, they are. Do you deny this? The Times ran lots of other stories on these. Look 'em up.

>Like you, the NYT is dodging the issue.

I'm not dodging it, and neither are they. They haven't excused, condoned or covered up for faked photos, and neither do I. You are asserting, on the basis of no evidence, that runing these was part of a desire to support Hezbollah.

>So I should take the opinion of a Washington Post reporter on the success of the Iraq War? Oh hey, he did hundreds of interviews! I am quite sure it paints an accurate picture

The idea is, you don't have to "take his word." He presents what many dozne people saw and heard. You can make up your own mind. But apparently it'salready made up.

>f you don't want to understand that 25 million people were freed from a tyrant, had 3 elections with excellent voter turnout under extreme conditions, created a democratic government of their own, and who are fighting for that freedom from insurgent forces and civil strife then you don't understand much.

Funny, but most Americans now disagree with you. I'm sure you'd say it was because of vicious anti-Bush propaganda. But when was your mind ever open on this score.

>ust keep saying you don't suffer from Bush-hate. Like media bias it is pretty obvious to the casual observer.

You're not a "casual observer," you're an ardent right-wing Bush partisan.

And you're entitled to your opinion too
The thing is, he knows a lot more about this than you.

And for you to blame the media is like looking in the mirror and blaming them mirror for what you don't like inthereflection.

>If you believe taking orders from Hezbollah on how to photograph a scene is a mistake then your language comprehension skills are more degraded than previously know

Except the photographer has been fired. Rummy's still on the job

Now you are making up stories.
I have a problem with reporting that is designed to support terrorism and causes the results we've seen so far.

For instance, The cBS memos, a story designed to do nothing but bring down Bush, and had NO fact checking, they didn't learn from that. Korans down the toilet, that sparked massive demonstrations and DEATHS... They didn't learn from this, either. Haditha? A fake human rights company, made up of 1 person, whose family is in jail for terrorism and known alQuaeda ties... and Murtha calling our troops baby killers, we shall see these results. But, now with Reuters, the bloggers are watching closely, while the MSM editors are not.

As for the 16 words and the WMD's, I refer you to Tlaloc. I also refer you to the Iraqi General who admitted to flying the WMD's to Syria. And from Arab News: "It is important to recall all this to show that the case of taking action against Saddam was not exclusively based on the issue of weapons of mass destruction. Finding and getting rid of weapons of mass destruction in the Ukraine, Belarus, Kazakhstan and South Africa took between 18 and 30 months, even though all actively cooperated with the UN. Thus, it is fanciful that similar results could be achieved in Iraq in a few weeks. Not finding the WMDs in a fixed timeframe does not mean that they never existed. British and Spanish governments have been looking for weapons’ caches of Basques and Irish terrorist groups for 35 years and have found little. But everyone knows those groups have arms. On the other hand the Philippines government still finds weapons caches left by the Japanese over half a century ago." WMD's are only what the left cares about. Not about the over 500,000 bodies found in mass graves all over Iraq. The Dimocrats don't even bring up WMD's themselves anymore. I wonder what they've seen that hasn't been released to the public.

by repeating their lies
...

Ah yes, the free press. What a messy institution!!
I mean, this is ridiculous.

>reporting that is designed to support terrorism

You bring up all kinds of examples and stories, but none of them was "designed to support terrorism." You can say that terrorists used them for propaganda -- but that doesn't mean that the reporting caused the results of the propaganda.

>But, now with Reuters, the bloggers are watching closely, while the MSM editors are not.

Earth to mazztek: what media have to sell is credibility. Catching a gigantic black eye from a mistake is a giant no-no in all media operations.

You bring up a mixed bag of stories which demonstrrate that (AMAZING!!!) news operations and reporters make mistakes. Maybe you have a formula for making newsgathering mistake free. Or maybe you'd prefer a government office approving each story.

As to the 16 words and the WMDs: Let me repeat what I said to Tlaloc. If the New York Times had been as wrong about the WMD stuff as the Bush administration was, you wouldn't be desperately searching for tiny scraps of truth in the mass of mistakes, you'd be calling for the place to be closed down.

>WMD's are only what the left cares about. Not about the over 500,000 bodies found in mass graves all over Iraq.

Lots of those people were killed while Saddam was a U.S. ally, while Rumsfeld was in Baghdad shaking Saddam's hand.

>The Democrats don't even bring up WMD's themselves anymore. I wonder what they've seen that hasn't been released to the public.

It's a dead issue. They weren't there. Yes, a few leftover lost odds and ends. No program, no threat. It's the Republicans who aren't bringing this up, because they know that it's a total loser for them.

16 words
have been proven true over and over and over again.

The aluminum tubes is still under dispute. One said says that since an alternate use was available, we must assume that they were for the alternate use.

Mobile weapons labs have never been disproven.

The only list around here, is your list of disproven lies.

No, they haven't
Post documentation if you like. Everything you say is wrong. As usual.

here we go again
The British reviewed their intelligence and issued a report that backed their first report completely. That's hardly "face saving noises".

Wilson reported that senior Iraqi agents tried to open trade relations with Niger. Niger only has two exports, goats and yellowcake. (Iraq already has plenty of goats.)

Interesting how the 9/11 commission has now become a Republican caucus report.

The paper that turned out to be bogus, wasn't discovered until after Wilson made his report. So it would be hard for him to base his report on it. (As Wilson claimed)

I point you to Wilson's report to the CIA
where he admitted that Iraq tried to open up trade relations with Iraq.

Sorry, that's not an attempt to buy yellowcake
But please feel free to post specifics.

The bottom line remains the same
any misstatement by the media is an attempt to lie to undermine the Bush administration.

The Bush administraion,however, never mistates anything, no matter how wrong its statements later turn out to be.

As opposed to your lies, Mark?
What lies are being repeated by whom?

It's difficult, but it's been done.
The idea of viewing the different layers is on the wrong track. The layers only come into play during editing of a photograph.

Detecing editing of photographs can actually be done with a fair amount of accuracy.

Take a look here:

http://news.com.com/Smoking+out+photo+hoaxes+with+software/2100-1008_3-6033312.html

I see you are still stuck on the belief that anything you don't want to believe, is a lie
...

the bottom only looks the same to you
Repeating the same lies, even when a casual examination would have revealed the truth, is what the MSM routinely does. Even when it has to make it up itself.

Nobody has ever shown that Bush lied. About anything.

You keep with the mantra that anything you don't want to believe is a lie. But the only one you are convincing, is yourself.

look it up for yourself
The only things Niger sells are yellowcake and goats.

If you had read the report, the agent told Wilson that he believed the Iraqis wanted to buy yellowcake.

opinions
If one general says something that eric agrees with, that outweighs the 100 generals who say just the opposite.

Name some stories
That have been supportive of the US, the war on terror, and the US Troops that have been put on the MSM.

Why also did your "infallable" media give the protestors with signs saying "Long Live Hezbullah" a free pass? Why were all of the stories mentioned from Reuters nothing but smear pieces designed to make the US and Israel look bad?

"...but that doesn't mean that the reporting caused the results of the propaganda." And yet, the left trumpet that the haditha, GITMO and Koran stories do nothing but drum up more terrorists. The fact that they were false and a REPEATED trend of fraudulent reporting on the part of the MSM shows a support of terrorists. The MSM is choosing to believe the terrorists FIRST, and REFUSE to question the sources touroughly.

From the site I posted above:
"Theory A: The Reuters editorial staff is sympathetic to the aims of Hezbollah, and is using propagandistic images exaggerating Israeli violence to increase world pressure on Israel to stop its attacks, thereby giving Hezbollah a chance to regroup, and claim moral superiority.
Reuters, according to this theory, is taking advantage of the chaos of war, and the chaos of the international media coverage, to promulgate staged or contradictory news reports, knowing that their audience is distracted by an onslaught of too much information. Working on the assumption that no one person would ever see enough different media outlets to notice the fraud, which only becomes apparent when comparing different images which are published in a wide variety of media outlets, Reuters has slipped the false reports into the news stream."

You know, you've tried to make this about Bush. You claim, "The MSM perpetrated a fraud, but so did Bush, so leave them alone..." I'm not the only one who says you are laughable. And if the WMD's are now a dead issue, why do YOU keep bringing them up?

Sorry, that's you, not me.
I read media and people I disagree with all the time, and if they have the facts, I incorporate the facts. What I don't do is make up the facts, which separates me from Mark.

Look who's talking
>Nobody has ever shown that Bush lied. About anything.

This is the Mark who says he's never wrong about anything.

>Nobody has ever shown that Bush lied. About anything.

And what's more, Bush has almost never admitted he was wrong about anything, either. So I guess we're really lucky to have a perfectly truthful, always perfectly informed President. But, jeez, how about those media! Mark, do something!!

Excuse me, who called the media "infallable"
I've said, over and over again, that media, like all other human institutions , make mistakes. And they acknowledge the mistakes. Unlike certain elected officials.

As far a stories "supportive of troops" -- are you kidding??? Here's a story about Haditha and the reaction to it by Marines. Please tell me how this is unsopprtive of the Marines in question:

http://www.nytimes.com/aponline/world/AP-Iraq-The-Haditha-Effect.html

Here's a detailed story about a military success: arresting the creeps who kidnapped reporter Jill Carroll.

The rest of what you write is just a mishmash of allegation and assumptions. The theory about Reuters making up this stuff is sheer lunacy. I mean, why? What evidence is there for this:

>he MSM is choosing to believe the terrorists FIRST, and REFUSE to question the sources touroughly.

And this is just a flat lie:

>he MSM perpetrated a fraud, but so did Bush, so leave them alone..." I

I did not say to leave anyone alone. I said that media had to be absolutely vigilent in preventing false or misleading report. And media (except maybe celebrity journals) are -- more so, in my experience, than the administration.

>And if the WMD's are now a dead issue, why do YOU keep bringing them up?

Because they are a proven case of misrepresentation of fact by the administration - misrepresentation that hasn't led to firing of the peole responsible.

it wasn't an "agent"
It was one of many people Wilson talked to in Niger. And after talking to lots of others, he concluded that nothing had happened. No offer to buy anything was ever made. Nothing was ever sold. Nobody has shown anything to the contrary. Look it up for yourself.

What 100 generals
How about the six senior retired ones who are calling for Rumsfeld's resignation.

And this wasn't just any general, It was Wolfowitz chief military aid. He says that the Secretary was bungling the invasion. Who would know better?

Thou doest protest too much
Thou doest protest too much. - Shakespeare.

Lemuel, if you didn't slip in the swipe at the Bush Administration in a discussion about fake photos and media bias, then you wouldn't have set yourself up for the critism and proving mazztek's point.

This fake was indeed laughable and poorly done
I have spent many hours working with photoshop and several of it's brothers. You can do a lot if you take a little time and be subtle. No way I would ever have published, or tried to get published, a photo that obviously tampered with.

That is why this article is right on. The future to do good alterations was 5-10 years ago on this technology and I could have done a better alteration in the wet dark room. (Amazing what you could do in the old days with an exacto-knife, an opaquing pen and little selective burn and dodge). Digital is so much easier and cleaner, yet this bozo does a cra ppy chop job and it gets through several levels of editors and bureau heads, what does that say?

This was no honest mistake and it was made it to the street in those publications who used it because that is what they wanted. The photo hack, the photo editor, the layout designer, the graphic artists, the proof editor and the head printer all knew this was a fake. They can claim ignorance and blame Reuters all they want, they are just da mn lucky I'm not their boss as I would have fired the whole lot of them.

In the end, any publication that used this, decided to run a fake. Several people in the chain knew it was a fake and decided they liked it and wanted to go with it.

A conspiracy? Maybe not. Certainly a desire to go with this one photo in spite of it's obvious alterations.

The question is why? If it isn't an attempt to make Israel look bad (worse?) what was it? This was not neglegence, it was done on purpose and knowing full well it was a forgery. There has to be a reason for doing something like that.

My answer? Left-wing, anti-west, anti-American bias. A desire to show America and any of its allies in a bad light. There seem to be a lot of people in the media, especially the big outfits, that say "If it's good let's neutralize it, if it is neutral let's make it look bad, if it is bad, let's make it look worse." whenever it deals with America or a pro-west, pro-American ally or faction. It is my opinion that the true left (far left?) hate bush so much that they hate anything American right now. To me, that is the only answer to this kind of rediculous nonesense.

The agent was Iraqi, Wilson talked to a Niger govt official
The Niger govt official stated that the govt of Niger decided not to open relations.

It's in the report, you can look it up.

all the other retired ones who are supporting the war effort.
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