By Brad Friedman on 2/19/2005, 4:04pm PT  

The story of CNN's bogus North Korean nuke plant photos seems to have legs of its own, as links to our original exclusive report (and its followups here and then here) continue to sweep around the net with surprising popularity.

And in print, The University of Texas' Daily Texan picks up on the story of the Iran/N. Korea/Iraq satellite photos (all of the same nuclear facility as it turns out, presumably in Iran) which ran on CNN's website, and then were found also to have been running at least a year earlier on the U.S. government funded Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty website at least a year prior to having shown up on CNN. On RFE/RL they were variously used to illustrate nuke or WMD sites in Iran, North Korea and Iraq!

The unbylined Daily Texan opinion piece points out the troubling "easily duped" state of the U.S. media by describing it as "whacky-tragic". They follow up our reporting with a similar statement from a different RFE/RL employee than the one we spoke to. Though, notably, like us, it seems they were similarly unable to get any statement from CNN on the matter.

Advancing the story a touch, their piece closes with...

It's an easy mistake to make, specifically after the passage of the "Ronald W. Reagan National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2005." Section 914 of the act makes satellite photography the government takes or buys immune from Freedom of Information Act requests.

There is no question both Iran and North Korea have nuclear programs - Iran admits to researching nuclear technology for non-weapon energy production. North Korea says it has nuclear bombs. But the media has not had good luck with satellite photography; before the invasion of Iraq, then Secretary of State Colin Powell used satellite photography to make the case before the U.N. that Iraq had WMD laboratories. That turned out to be false. What, in retrospect, were probably fire trucks became "decontamination vehicles," and flatbed trucks became "mobile weapons labs."

Considering this administration's willingness to misrepresent the facts to the tragiwacky media and ambitions to use propaganda, until satellite photography is fully opened to the public, it should enjoy the same skepticism one would reserve for a report in Chinese news agency Xinhua or communist-run Pravda.

We appreciate that they've given "blogger Brad Friedman" credit for first reporting the story. And our thanks to BRAD BLOG reader "Ziggyczar" for bringing the piece to our attention!

We have continued over the last week to get comment from CNN, and will continue to do so. We will, of course, report here when and if we are able to get one.

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