Why Was This Photo of a Meeting Between Tillerson and Afghan President Doctored?

Posted: Oct 24, 2017 10:30 AM

The Afghan version of a photo of Secretary of State Rex Tillerson meeting with Afghan President Ashraf Ghani in Bagram Monday was doctored. 

Both the United States and Afghanistan released photos from the meeting but the Afghan version had some notable differences from the U.S.’s copy.

While both photos showed the two men sitting in a windowless room, the image released by Afghanistan has removed the military-style digital clock and fire alarm above the two men—both of which are pictured in the U.S. copy. And in the Afghan photo, the room appears much brighter.  

The image analyst The New York Times spoke with said it is obvious the Afghan version was doctored because the person responsible for the editing forgot to erase the power cord that led to the clock and fire alarm. 

So, why was it altered?

After Tillerson’s meeting with Ghani on Monday, the American Embassy and Ghani’s office released a statement claiming that the two men had met in Kabul. But the Times noted that the meeting actually occurred at Bagram, the U.S. military base more than thirty miles from Afghanistan’s capital.

Removing the military-style clock and large fire alarm might have been an attempt by Afghanistan’s government to conceal the meeting’s location.  By claiming that Tillerson and Ghani were in Kabul and not a fortified military base, the Afghan government can project strength and advance a positive narrative about the country's security. (Fox News)

Neither government has released an explanation about the doctored image or why the U.S. embassy signed off on a statement that said the meeting took place in Kabul.