Reading The Pictures is dedicated to the analysis of news photos and media images.
March 27, 2007

Pictures As Projectiles

27Weapons-600

(click for full size)

This photo accompanies a NYT story this morning analyzing how the Pentagon developed its case charging Iran with providing roadside bombs to anti-American Iraqi Shiites.

The BAG’s question is, is the NYT once again shilling for the government in its anti-Iran campaign, and using its photo coverage to back it up?

Today’s story is written by Michael Gordon, who also wrote the February 10th article for The Times (“Deadliest Bomb in Iraq Is Made by Iran, U.S. Says”) detailing the Government’s case that Iran is producing highly lethal EPD’s or Explosive Penetrator Devices. (It was Gordon, by the way, who worked side-by-side with Judith Miller in “exposing” those aluminum tubes as part of the build-up to the U.S. Iraqi invasion.)

A key piece of evidence in the latest article is that trucks have been intercepted “within a few miles of the Iranian border, carrying copper discs machined to the precise curvature required to form the penetrating projectile.”  That’s all well and good, but it doesn’t take into account the WSJ report (via TPM Muckracker, with photo), of the discovery, late last month, of a “makeshift factory” in Southern Iraq manufacturing devices with the same configuration, including the copper disks.

Which brings us back to the photo.

In February, the visual aspect of the story consisted primarily of government-issued handouts of devices components (BBC photo gallery).  Is it possible today’s shot, however, far from indicting the discs in question, more specifically illustrates the role of The Times as staging partner in this specific, almost two-month long promo campaign?

(image: Robert Nickelsberg/Getty Images, for The New York Times.  February 2006.  nytimes.com. caption: American soldiers displayed parts of weapons, known as explosively formed penetrators, after finding them last month in a Shiite village near Baghdad. The copper liners in the foreground become projectiles when the explosive devices are set off.)

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