05/23/2005 01:34 am ET | Updated May 25, 2011

A Picture is Worth a Thousand Words... Which Is Why We Haven't Seen Many

"I don't think a photo inspires murders." So says George Bush, discounting any negative effects from the Saddam photos – and by implication, the Abu Ghraib and Guantanamo photos. The day after the president's smug little bit of wisdom, a front page story by Somini Sengupta and Salman Masood in the New York Times focused on how the images of Guantanamo have come to define the U.S. in the Muslim world:

Even more than the written accounts are the images that flash on television screens throughout the Muslim world: caged men, in orange prison jumpsuits, on their knees.

Another story, this one by Jim Rainey on the front page of the Los Angeles Times, is a chilling reminder of how few images have come out of the war in Iraq, because of the press, because of the Bush administration, or because of the hellish conditions in Iraq:

A review of six prominent U.S. newspapers and the nation's two most popular newsmagazines during a recent six-month period found almost no pictures from the war zone of Americans killed in action.

Leash.jpgOf course, contrary to the President's disingenuous dismissal, the power of images – for bad and for good – has been enormous. Who can forget the photo of Kim Phuc, the naked girl who had just been napalmed in Vietnam and what it did to public opinion about the war? Or police dogs attacking civil rights protestors? Or Abu Ghraib? Do you think more people remember the details of the articles about Abu Ghraib, or the photo of Lyndie England holding an Iraqi detainee on a dog leash?

NguyenNgocLoan.jpgIndeed, the Bush administration knows all too well the power of images. That's why Tami Silicio was fired after taking the photo of the flag-draped coffins being airlifted back to the United States. That's why Karl Rove chose to use our soldiers as a political prop when the president in a ridiculous flight-suit declared victory (way too prematurely) in front of a “Mission Accomplished"” banner.