Ed Driscoll

Snuff Films, Then And Now, Revisited

Back on April 10th, 2005, we compared this infamous photograph with a similiar image, one that’s gone down in history as one of the iconic photos of Vietnam: Eddie Adams’ horrific photo of South Vietnamese General Nguyen Ngoc Loan shooting his prisoner point blank into his temple. Decades after taking that photo, Adams, an Associated Press photographer, had serious regrets about it, leading to an mea culpa in Time magazine, in which he wrote:

The general killed the Viet Cong; I killed the general with my camera. Still photographs are the most powerful weapon in the world. People believe them, but photographs do lie, even without manipulation. They are only half-truths. What the photograph didn’t say was, ‘What would you do if you were the general at that time and place on that hot day, and you caught the so-called bad guy after he blew away one, two or three American soldiers?’

Bilal Hussein, the Associated Press photographer present for the execution on Baghdad’s Haifa Street has plenty time to think things through as well: he’s been imprisoned by the US military for five months after being captured in Iraq with two terrorists, including an alleged leader of al-Qaida in Iraq.

Adnan Hajj of Reuters could not be reached for comment.

Update: Curious and curiouser: AP is now claiming that Hussein isn’t the photographer who took the Haifa Street photo. This 2005 AP page crows about their photographers winning the Pulitzer Prize. Clicking on the link at the bottom of the page to a flash presentation titled, “PHOTO GALLERY: Breaking News Photography” highlights 20 powerful images from Iraq. All of them have the photographer’s name listed, with the exception of the photo from Haifa Street, which simply says “AP Photo/AP Stringer”. I wonder why AP doesn’t want that photographer’s name released–apparently, even now.

And in addition to its photographers (known and unknown), AP editors also appear to be having headline challenges as well.

Another Update: Power Line’s John Hinderaker explores the photos that Bilal Hussein is credited by AP as taking and notes:

Now, the Associated Press wants us to believe that the man who took these photographs showed “extraordinary courage” because they were “taken at great personal risk” to the photographer. But I don’t buy it. It appears obvious that the person who took these photos knew that the terrorists wanted the pictures taken. If the terrorists hadn’t wanted the pictures taken, they would have shot the photographer. And what was the photographer doing within a few yards of the terrorists in the first place? Are we supposed to believe that he just stumbled across them while they were in the act of committing murder or firing a mortar? Of course not. The photographer was present at the invitation of the terrorists, who wanted the pictures taken for propaganda purposes.

All of these suspicions were confirmed today when the AP announced that the United States military has been holding Bilal Hussein for the past five months for “imperative reasons of security.”

As Hinderaker adds, “In recent months, we have learned a great deal about the deep corruption that pervades the use of Middle Eastern stringers by the international news services. The Bilal Hussein story adds another piece to the puzzle.”