UPDATE August 4: S., the original source of this letter, has sent in the following retraction:
To Robert Spencer, Charles Johnson, and their readers,
A few days ago I wrote an open letter to the press agencies that supplied the Qana photos. Astute readers on both Jihad Watch and Litle Green Footballs quickly pointed out holes in technical details of my letter.
They were right. I was wrong. I apologize to Robert, Charles and their readers for having unintentionally misled you all.
The only reason I waited a day to issue this statement is that I spent yesterday thoroughly researching the issue in technical papers, and with an internationally recognized expert in the field. The bottom line is that the information I thought couldn’t be altered, can; and that once altered, it can’t be retrieved. Worse yet, certain news organizations, when processing digital photos, damage or erase this information in their process of their normal workflow.
One of the best qualities of Jihad Watch and Little Green Footballs is that the standard of truth was maintained, despite the wish that that truth were different.
Jihad Watch reader S., who works in the photography business, has composed this letter about the Qana photos. For background on the controversy, see here.
To Whom It May Concern,
Many powerful photographs were taken following the recent tragedy at Qana. Legitimate questions have arisen regarding the actual times certain photos were taken.
News agencies have begun responding to some of the questions raised. Here is AP’s response: http://www.forbes.com/home/feeds/ap/2006/08/01/ap2920008.html
The AP had three different photographers there who weren’t always aware of what the others were doing, and filed their images to editors separately, said Santiago Lyon, director of photography.
There are also several reasons not to draw conclusions from time stamps, Lyon said. Following a news event like this, the AP does not distribute pictures sequentially; photos are moved based on news value and how quickly they are available for an editor to transmit.
The Associated Press, Reuters and Agence France-Presse all distributed photos of which questions have been asked relative to the time shot. What Lyon of AP does not address, is that the exact time of digital capture is recorded along with the image. This EXIF information cannot be altered, and would give accurate timings as to the sequence of all photos released.
We urge AFP, AP, and Reuters to make available to this website a small JPEG file, with all EXIF data attached, of each of the photos analyzed on the various websites that have raised this issue. A list will be provided if they are not already known. Sensitive IPTC data may be removed, if any responding agency wishes. The EXIF is the only important data.
The actual capture times, between photos of all agencies, would then be made a public record — chips falling where they may.
It is the responsibility of a free press to ferret out information that those in power wish to withhold. It is the responsibility of an informed citizenry to openly request information from press sources when there is the appearance that they are withholding information critical to their mission of maintaining the public trust.
We await response from AP, AFP and Reuters that could lay to rest this one important issue.