March 18, 2006
On March 11, the New York Times printed the gripping story of Ali Shalal Qaissi, the Iraqi in the most famous photo from Abu Ghraib, depicted below:
The story begins:
Almost two years later, Ali Shalal Qaissi's wounds are still raw.
The story continues in lurid detail, a searing indictment of the sadistic cruelty of the American armed forces. And Qaissi is described, sympathetically, as a man on a mission: he forgives his American torturers, but wants to prevent similar "atrocities" from occurring in the future. The Times article is titled "Symbol of Abu Ghraib Seeks to Spare Others His Nightmare." Indeed, Qaissi has made something of a career out of being the man in the famous photo, including, rather weirdly, distributing this business card:
It was indeed a gripping story. And, needless to say, one that suited the Times' political agenda. Just one problem, though: it wasn't true. Qaissi is a hoax. This morning's Times includes the following correction:
A front-page article last Saturday profiled Ali Shalal Qaissi, identifying him as the hooded man forced to stand on a box, attached to wires, in a photograph from the Abu Ghraib prison abuse scandal of 2003 and 2004. He was shown holding such a photograph. As an article on Page A1 today makes clear, Mr. Qaissi was not that man.
As the old newsman's adage goes, some stories are just too good to check. Besides, there was someone in the photograph. So I suppose the Times could say its story was fake, but accurate.
Posted by John at 09:05 AM | Permalink