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Doctored photographs, Israeli airstrikes

The pictures that fool the world

By Judi McLeod

Thursday, August 3, 2006

Heated denials from news agencies accused of staging images with doctored photographs of dead children in the aftermath of an Israeli airstrike in Lebanon, cannot rest on staged images from the war arena never having happened before.

'The world was shocked to find out that a PR firm, Hill and Knowlton had manufactured the `incubator babies' incident in Kuwait, which precipitated the Gulf War; Iraqi soldiers ripping Kuwait babies out of incubators in a genocidal fashion.' (Marjaleena Repo, national organizer, Citizens Concerned About Free Trade,, Aug. 30, 2004).

As Repo pointed out even Amnesty International was taken in by the falsehood, which was later exposed, but only after the military damage was done.

And the incubator babies propaganda was not the last time that staged images were used to hoodwink John & Josephine Q. Public.

'Yet the shock of being duped (by Hill and Knowlton) soon wore off and gullibility returned (to the American public). In no time another American PR firm, Ruder-Finn Global Communications, working for the Croatian and Bosnian separatists, publicly bragged that it had been able to turn world opinion against the Serbs,' Repo recalled.

This propaganda routine, years later, became known as The Picture That Fooled The World, when German journalist Thomas Deichman wrote about it. The infamous story of Serb concentration camps took its origination from a photo of a gaunt man surrounded by others, staring at the viewer from behind barbed wire–an image to chill one to the bones.

In reality, the staged concentration camp picture was photographed by British journalists, who were purportedly photographing the inhabitants of the concentration camp from inside barbed wire–which in reality was protecting agricultural products and machinery from theft in a refugee and transit camp–the men stood outside of it and at no time was there a barbed-wire fence surrounding the camp.

The cunning of Ruder-Finn Global Public Affairs in Yugoslavia knew no bounds. Ruder-Finn director James Harff was interviewed by French journalist Jaques Merlino.

'The essential tools in our work are a card file, a computer and a fax. The card file contains a few hundred names of journalists, politicians, academics and representatives of humanitarian organizations. The computer goes through the card files according to correlated subjects, coming up with very effective targets,' Harff told Merlino.

'The computer is tied to a fax. In this way we can disseminate information in a few minutes to those we think will react (positively). Our job is to ensure that the arguments for our side will be the first to be expressed.

'Our work is not to verify information. We are not equipped for that. Our work is to accelerate the circulation of information favorable to us, to aim them at carefully chosen targets. We did not claim that there were death camps in Bosnia, we just made it known that Newsday claimed it.'

Journalists to whom the truth matters sometimes have a hard time keeping their jobs. With no explanation, news director Jean Pierre El Kagbasch removed Merlino from his job as deputy editor-in-chief at France's Antenne 2 Network. At the same time, unidentified humanitarian organizations demonstrated in front of Antenne 2, shouting, 'Merlino, the people are after your hide.'

Executives of unscrupled PR firms, who admit they keep the names of journalists on their files, have let it be known that they'd work for Satan, if he's paying.

Hezbollah and Hamas are not short of money.

A British Web site, the EU Referendum blog, posits the argument that chicanery may have been involved in photos depicting rescue workers carrying dead children.

The site, which suggests these events were staged for effect, is echoed by talk show host Rush Limbaugh.

'These photographers are obviously willing to participate in propaganda,' Limbaugh said, 'They know exactly what's being done, all these photos bringing the bodies out of the rubble, posing them for the cameras, it's all staged. Every bit of it is staged and the still photographers know it.'

Rush Limbaugh could be right.

Canada Free Press founding editor Most recent by Judi McLeod is an award-winning journalist with 30 years experience in the print media. Her work has appeared on, Drudge Report,, Glenn Beck. Judi can be reached at:

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