Identical Photo Used in Stories on both Iran and N. Korea was also used with IRAQ Stories!
All have been 'disappeared' from U.S. Funded Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty website! Still no Explanation for CNN's Use of Same Iranian Facility on Their N. Korea Story!
By Brad Friedman on 2/16/2005, 2:18pm PT  

After yesterday's BRAD BLOG exposť on the use of a satellite photo of a (presumably) Iranian nuclear facility which was misrepresented as a nuclear facility in North Korea by the U.S. Government funded "news" site Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty in an April 2004 story, the site has now removed that photograph from the article without giving explanation on their webpage for the removal.

To make matters worse, we pointed out yesterday that the photo of the (follow closely now) supposed Iranian nuclear facility that was used with the article on North Korea was actually filenamed "Iraq-nuclear.jpg"!

It has now been discovered that the same photograph was indeed also used on RFE/RL stories about WMDs in Iraq!

A search of RFE/RL's website reveals that there were at least 9 different instances of that same "Iraq-nuclear.jpg" photo being used along with stories about nuclear or WMD programs in all three different countries. The first known instance of its use at RFE/RL was on February 5, 2004 in an article headlined --- ironically enough --- "CIA Head Defends WMD Intelligence on Iraq"!

In another instance (see screenshot at bottom of this story, captured prior to scrubbing of photo), a story from RFE/RL published on April 20, 2004 titled "Iraq/U.S.: New Book Contradicts CIA Director's Intelligence" the photo was --- again, ironically enough --- used above the caption: "Convincing enough?"

As of this afternoon it seems that all of the RFE/RL stories on either Iraq or North Korea, which had once used that same file photo to represent nukes or WMD in all three respective countries, have now had the photo either removed entirely or replaced by another. Only the stories on Iran continue to use the photo, and even one of those was changed to a photo of the International Atomic Energy Association's Muhammad el-Baradei (again, for reasons not explained on the site).

After asking for comment on the originally discovered use of the photo with their North Korea story from March 2004, Martins Zvaner from RFE/RL's communications office emailed the following explanation to The BRAD BLOG...

Thank you for contacting us, and pointing out the disconnect between an article posted to the RFE/RL website by Mark Baker (1 March 2004, "North Korea: Six-Way Talks Seen As Neither Success Nor Failure", and the photo that accompanied the article. We regret the fact that the photo was 1) misidentified as of an Iraqi facility when in fact it is of an Iranian facility and 2) that it was used to illustrate a news article that dealt exclusively with the six-way North Korean nuclear negotiations. That photo has now been removed from the article on our website.

Zvaners supplied no answer to our inquiry into the original source for those photos. That issue is of the utmost curiosity here given that it was originally CNN's use of a photo of the same purported Iranian facility represented as a North Korean facility in their story last Saturday on six-way talks with North Korean President Kim Jung Il.

CNN, unlike RFE/RL is not funded by the U.S. government and, in theory, should be checking facts before reporting to America and the world and displaying photos possibly supplied by Administration officials who may have a particular agenda to grind.

Our discovery of the photo on additional stories at RFE/RL, including Iraq stories, occurred during the interim as we were waiting for the above email reply from RFE/RL. We have since followed-up asking for further explanation of the photograph's use on the Iraq stories and why no explanation was given for the various removals of the photo from the many different web pages. We will update with that reply when and if it is received. (NOTE: We have now received a reply to our follow-up email to Zvaners. Please see the bottom of this article for that updated info.)

As BRAD BLOG's story from yesterday pointed out, RFE/RL is funded by the U.S. Government and its corporate board of directors is composed of nine Presidential appointees. It broadcasts news from an American point of view across Europe. Therefore, the use of American propoganda is not wholly surprising for them.

CNN's use, however, of the same Iranian facility in a story about North Korea still requires some explaining since --- in theory --- CNN is not a government-funded propoganda arm of the United States government!

It was the discovery of CNN's use of that same alleged Iranian nuclear facility used to represent a facility in North Korea that begin this odyssey on Monday with this BRAD BLOG exclusive showing the use of the same facility in stories over the past week describing the image respectively as a nuke plant first in Iran and then again as one in North Korea.

We have attempted since Monday to receive an explanation from CNN who has since replaced the photo on their North Korea story following our story. Numerous messages to various CNN divisions have gone unanswered, while a staffer in their Press Relations office yesterday morning promised us a comment "soon". We are still waiting to hear back from them and will report what --- if anything --- they have to say for themselves.

The stories at RFE/RL which all used the same Iranian nuclear facility photo are listed here (we have most of the original stories cached showing the photo which has, in most cases, now been scrubbed from these pages):

  • CIA Head Defends WMD Intelligence On Iraq
    Published: Feb 5, 2004
    Caption used below photo: None.
    Original photo status: Now replaced with generic map of Iraq.
  • World: A Lively Nuclear Black Market Raises Fears Of Terrorists Getting The Bomb (Part 1)
    Published: Feb 26, 2004
    Caption used below photo: "Suspected nuclear facility in Iran".
    Original photo status: Still included with story.
  • World: Stopping Proliferation Requires Tough New Laws (Part 2)
    Published: Feb 26, 2004
    Caption used below photo: None.
    Original photo status: Replaced by photo of Muhammad el-Baradei
  • North Korea: Six-Way Talks Seen As Neither Success Nor Failure
    Published: Mar 1, 2004
    Caption used below photo: None.
    Original photo status: Removed.
  • Powell Says U.S. Intelligence On Iraq Mobile Labs Flawed
    Published: Apr 3, 2004
    Caption used below photo: Unknown. Gone before we could capture it.
    Original photo status: Removed.
  • Iraq/U.S.: New Book Contradicts CIA Director's Intelligence
    Published: Apr 20, 2004
    Caption used below photo: "Convincing enough?"
    Original photo status: Removed.
    (screenshot of pre-scrubbed story below)
  • Iran: EU 'Big Three' Meet With Tehran Over Nuclear Program
    Published: Nov 5, 2004
    Caption used below photo: "A suspected nuclear facility in Iran"
    Original photo status: Still included with story.
  • Analysis: How Close Is Iran To The Bomb?
    Published: Dec 15, 2004
    Caption used below photo: "Is this site producing a nuclear weapon? (file photo)"
    Original photo status: Still included with story.
  • U.S./Iran: Former Weapons Inspector Says U.S. Must Avoid Mistakes Of Iraq
    Published: Feb 8, 2005
    Caption used below photo: "Suspected WMD site in Iran"
    Original photo status: Still included with story.
  • UPDATE: Martins Zvaners from the communications office at RFE/RL has replied to our follow-up questions with this answer:

    The photo in question was misidentified when our web editors first secured it in early 2004; months later (i.e. after the article you refer to below was posted) when they learned it was of an Iranian facility, they refrained from using it with any articles other than those linked to Iran. Unfortunately, that file (with "Iraq" in its file name, which is what you see when you mouse over the photo) has only just been replaced by one titled "iran-nuclear-satellite.jpg". We have gone through our website to make sure that this photo, with a properly descriptive name, accompanies only those articles where it is appropriate. Again, we regret any confusion that may have resulted from this mistake.

    To my knowledge, our web editors got the photo file from a wire agency photo service, run by either AFP or the Czech news agency CTK.

    So he's blamin' it on the Czechs, huh?! ;-)

    Either way, we appreciate the quick response from Mr. Zvaners. Especially, while we're at three days and counting and still waiting for a reply...any reply...even a made up reply...from CNN.