Depression Mother

Behind the camera:
Where: Just outside a temporary settlement called, Pea-Pickers Camp, on the outskirts of Nipomo, California. The camp was a temporary encampment for migrant farm workers and their families
Photo Summary: Florence Owens Thompson flanked by daughter Katherine (age 4) on the left and Ruby (age 5) on the right. The Baby on Florence’s lap is Norma aged 1
Picture Taken: Early March, 1936
This image is in the public domain because it was taken by Dorothea Lange

Dorothea Lange’s famous picture of Florence Owens Thompson was taken during the Great Depression. While the book, Grapes of Wrath, became the literary representation of America’s poor during the ’30s, Lange’s ‘Migrant Mother’ picture became the visual one. Lange took the image of Florence Thompson with her family near the small town of Nipomo as part of a photo assignment for the government covering the plight of migrant farm workers. The official in charge of documenting and photographing the American poor for the federal project saw thousands of pictures as part of duties but describes the “Migrant Mother” as the “ultimate” photo of the Depression Era. The picture itself is part of a series of 6 and shows from left to right: Katherine age 4(head turned), Florence Owens (later married as Thompson) age 34, and Ruby Owens (head turned) age 5. The Baby on Florence’s lap is Norma aged 1.

Depression photographer

Dorothea Lange, the photographer was born in Hoboken New Jersey on May 26, 1895. At the age of seven, she developed polio which ravaged her right leg giving her a life long limp. In New York, she studied photography, and in 1918 she moved to the West coast opening a successful portrait studio in San Francisco. After the Great Depression, she became famous for her portraits of the effects of the stock market crash. Her pictures got the attention of the federal Resettlement Administration (RA), later called the Farm Security Administration (FSA), who in the mid ’30s offered her a job documenting America’s poor.

Taking the Picture

It was during March 1936 that as part of her effort to photograph migrants for the government that she took the famous shot of Florence Owens Thompson. Lange was returning to her Berkley, California home after spending a month taking pictures of migrant farmers around Los Angles. She had just passed through Santa Maria and was on the outskirts of another small Californian town, Nipomo when she saw a sprawling settlement with a sign declaring its name, Pea-Pickers Camp. Thousands had descended on the camp in hopes of getting work picking Peas in the surrounding farms. Unfortunately, an early cold snap had wiped out the crop and over 2000 people were stranded at the camp. Lange actually passed the camp as she was anxious to get home but after much internal debate decided to do a quick stop before continuing home.

Dorothea Lange took a number of pictures of the family moving closer and closer each time.


A U-turn brought her back to the camp and she quickly noticed a subject. In a 1960’s interview, she would recall that “I was following instinct, not reason, I saw and approached the hungry and desperate mother, as if drawn by a magnet.” Over 10 min and using her Graflex camera, she took 6 shots, with each exposure she moved closer to the family. The final vertical picture is what would later become the famous, “Migrant Mother”. The usually well organized Lange took detailed notes, but perhaps in her haste to get home only got the very basic of information, not even getting the subject’s name. Years later she would remember that the woman, “told me her age, that she was 32. She said that they had been living on frozen vegetables from the surrounding fields, and birds that her children killed. She had just sold the tires from her car to buy food. There she sat in that lean-to tent, with her children huddled around her and seemed to know that my pictures might help her, and so she helped me. There was a sort of equality about it”. She packed up her equipment and continued on her way, “I did not approach the tents and shelters of other stranded pea-pickers,” she remembered. “I knew I had recorded the essence of my assignment.”
[midgoogle]
When she returned home, Lange developed the pictures and immediately sent them off to the San Francisco News who used two of the 6 shots but not the now famous, “Migrant Mother”. The paper ran the images in their March 10, 1936, edition under the headline: “Ragged, Hungry, Broke, Harvest Workers Live in Squalor.” The national media quickly picked up the story and used the “Migrant Mother” picture across the country. Public outcry ensured that the federal government quickly sent the “Pickers Camp” settlement 20,000 pounds of food.

Florence Thompson Emerges


Colorized version of the iconic Lange image

Colorized version of the iconic Lange image


The identity of the women in the picture wasn’t discovered until the late 70’s almost 40 years after the picture was taken. It was Florence Thompson herself who got in touch with the editors of her local newspaper, the Modesto Bee to tell her story.
Florence Owens Thompson was born on September 1, 1901, in the Indian Territory of the Cherokee Nation with the name maiden name, Florence Leona Christie. Both of her parents claimed Cherokee blood rights to the land making her a full-blooded Native American of the Cherokee Nation. She lived on a small farm on the Cherokee Territory and when she was 17 married Cleo Owens, a 23-year-old farmer. They had three children before they moved with other members of the Owen family to California where they found work in the forestry and farming industries. After Wall Street crashed in 1929, millwork dried up and the family, then with 5 children moved to Oroville in northern California where the Owen clan found work on the surrounding farms.
[bigquote quote=”we lived under that bridge” author=”Thompson”]
Florence’s husband Cleo, sadly died shortly after the move when he caught a fever one day while picking peaches. At the time of his death, she was pregnant and the Owen family offered to take some of the children, an offer Florence refused. She stayed with her husband’s family for two years working in the fields during the day and at a restaurant at night to support her family. In 1933 she found out that she was pregnant again and fled back to her parent’s home out of fear the father would take her child.
She lived with her family for a short time before they too moved out to California in hopes of better work. Over the next few years, the family along with thousands of migrant workers drove up and down California, camping along the way, in search of farm work so that she could feed her and her children. In 1935 she started a relationship with James R. Hill and soon she was pregnant again, eventually giving birth to a girl, Norma Lee in March of 1935. With Hill she had three more children, life was hard and they moved constantly throughout California always just making it, just getting enough food on the table. Thompson would later recall, “when Steinbeck wrote in The Grapes of Wrath about those people living under the bridge at Bakersfield—at one time we lived under that bridge. It was the same story. Didn’t even have a tent then, just a ratty old quilt.” Hill who was remembered by her daughter as not having much ambition, eventually moved out of the family’s life and after World War II she married hospital administrator George Thompson who Florence was finally able to find stability with and resources to support her family.

Not what she seems

Around the same time, the Modesto Bee article was published, author Bill Ganzel was writing a book, Dust Bowl Descent, about people photographed by the RA during the depression. During his research, he came upon Florence Thompson’s story, tracked her down in 1979. During his interviews, he was able to get Florence and her family’s version of what happened when Lange pulled into the camp and took their picture.
In March of 1936 Florence then still with Jim Hill had finished work picking beets and were off to the Pajoro Valley in their Hudson Sedan in hopes of finding work in the Pajoro Valley’s lettuce fields. On Highway 101, just outside Nipomo, the Hudson’s timing chain broke and they were able to get the car into the pea picker’s camp in hopes of making repairs. They were amazed at a number of people in the camp and the conditions they were living in. Florence would later recall that while making a meal for the family children from the surrounding camps came over to beg because they didn’t have any food. Disaster struck when the boys punctured the radiator with a screwdriver while trying to fix their car. They then had to remove the radiator and take it to town in order to do repairs.
While the boys were in town Dorothea Lange came into the camp and took her pictures. In Lange’s field notes, she described the family as, “Seven hungry children. Father is native Californian. Destitute in pea pickers’ camp … because of failure of the early pea crop. These people had just sold their tires to buy food.” Florence insists that Lange never asked her any questions. According to Florence she just took the pictures and told her that they would never be published and her family would later tell Bill Ganzel, “There’s no way we sold our tires, because we didn’t have any to sell … The only ones we had were on the Hudson and we drove off in them. I don’t believe Dorothea Lange was lying, I just think she had one story mixed up with another. Or she was borrowing to fill in what she didn’t have.”
When the story broke and the food was delivered to the Pea Pickers camp, the Owens-Hill family had already moved on and reached their destination, the outskirts of Watsonville, in Pajaro Valley.

Mama’s been shot, Mama’s been shot
Thompson’s kids

It was here while selling newspapers to make extra money that the family saw the front cover with their mother’s picture. Due to a typing error, a large ink spot appeared in the middle of Florence’s forehead and first the children thought that their mother had been shot. The boys remember running back to where their mother was camped screaming, “‘Mama’s been shot, Mama’s been shot,’ … We both ran back to camp, and, of course, she was OK. We showed her the picture, and she just looked at it. She didn’t say nothin’.” In 1979 Bill Ganzel recreated the “Migrant Mother” taking a picture of Florence Thompson and her three daughters, Norma Rydlewski, Katherine McIntosh and Ruby Sprague the same three who were present in the 1936 picture.

Florence always hated the picture and whenever she saw it would get angry because she thought Lange was getting rich off her image. However, because Lange was taking the picture for the federal government she never directly received any money. The picture did provide Lange celebrity and respect from her colleagues. Lange’s childhood polio would come to haunt her in her later years and she suffered from bleeding ulcers and post-polio syndrome. On October 11, 1965, she died at the age of seventy without ever knowing who the subject was in her famous picture.

Life moves on

Florence’s extended family grew through the ages and she passed on her legacy of hard work and loyalty to her 10 children, 39 grandchildren, 74 great-grandchildren. She always hated the picture but in 1983 it would come in useful. In early 1983 then 81 Thompson was diagnosed with cancer. Treatment of the disease triggered a stroke and she soon required round the clock care. By the summer of 1983, her bill was reaching $1400 a week. The family couldn’t afford it and turned to the public. Jack Foley of the San Jose Mercury News picked up the story and it got national attention. Soon envelopes started pouring in from all over the country eventually raising more than $35,000. Florence’s children were overwhelmed by the response and reflected that “None of us ever really understood how deeply Mama’s photo affected people … I guess we had only looked at it from our perspective. For Mama and us, the photo had always been a bit of a curse. After all those letters came in, I think it gave us a sense of pride.” The response of the nation seemed to improve Florence’s health but she never recovered from the stroke. On September 16, 1983, Florence Thompson died at her son’s home. A nurse who was helping out with her care recalls, “Right before Florence died … she opened her eyes and looked right at me. It was the most conscious she had been in a long time. I went to get the family. They were holding her, kissing her cheek, stroking her hair. Telling her how much they loved her. And then she took her last breath. It was a beautiful, very peaceful moment. It felt very complete.”

Other Famous Portraits

Related Posts:

Smiling Sada Abe

Behind the camera: Published in the Mainichi Newspaper
Where: Leaving the Takanawa Police stn in Tokyo
Photo Summary: Sada Abe with policemen after her arrest
Picture Taken: May 20, 1936
This image is in the public domain because of its age

In 1930s Japan a Japanese woman became infatuated with and strangled her lover to death. After his death, she cut off his penis and carried it around with her while being chased by the police. When news of the crime broke that a “sexually and criminally dangerous woman was on the loose,” the nation was gripped with what was called “Abe Sada panic.” On the run for a few days, she was caught and spent six years in prison. She later became a sensation in Japanese culture for many decades. At the time of her arrest police were struck with her calm demeanor.

Sada Abe’s life

Born in 1905 Sada Abe was the youngest child of four. An independent girl at a young age she was sexually assaulted and perhaps due to this assault became difficult for her ageing parents to control. Abe was always fascinated with the Geisha lifestyle and so her father sold her to a Geisha House although there is some debate on whether she wanted to go or not. Abe found living the life of a Geisha extremely frustrating and quickly fell out with the house and turned to prostitution. She spent years working in the brothels until becoming the mistress of Kichizo Ishida.

Kichizo Ishida

The two became incredibly infatuated with each other spending days in hotels with marathon sex sessions that didn’t stop even when maids cleaned the rooms. When Ishida would return to his wife Abe became incredibly jealous and flirted with the idea of murdering him. Buying a knife she even threatened him during the next visit to the hotel but Ishida thought she was just role-playing and didn’t take her seriously. While making love she tried to strangle him with a cord but he actually enjoyed the restriction of his breath and told her to continue which threw her off. Later in the night, he passed out and Abe wrapped the cord again around his throat and strangled his sleeping body to death. Using the knife she removed his genitals with a knife, using the blood from the wound she wrote “Sada and Kitchi together” on the sheets, and carved her name on his arm with a knife. Later when the police asked about why she took Ishida’s genitalia, Abe replied, “Because I couldn’t take his head or body with me. I wanted to take the part of him that brought back to me the most vivid memories.”
[midgoogle]

“Abe Sada panic” and arrest

Another photo with more somber police


When the body was discovered the police released a media alert that sparked a public panic over a crazed woman running around Japan chopping of genitalia. Police were swamped with sightings from around the country. After the murder, she drifted around Tokyo eventually ending up in a hotel in southern Tokyo. After a massage and beers at the Inn, she fell asleep.
Police who were visiting all hotels, trying to find her, became suspicious of the alias she used to sign in. After apologetically entering her hotel room Abe Sada supposedly told the police, “Don’t be so formal, You’re looking for Sada Abe, right? Well that’s me. I am Sada Abe.” The police didn’t actually believe her but were finally convinced when she displayed Ishida’s genitalia. While interrogating Abe officers were struck by Abe’s demeanour. When they asked why she had killed Ishida. “Immediately she became excited and her eyes sparkled in a strange way [and she said] ‘I loved him so much, I wanted him all to myself. But since we were not husband and wife, as long as he lived he could be embraced by other women. I knew that if I killed him no other woman could ever touch him again, so I killed him…..’ William Johnston who wrote the book, Geisha, Harlot, Strangler, Star: A Woman, Sex, and Morality in Modern Japan suggests that what made Abe so fascinating to the Japanese public was that “she had killed not out of jealousy but out of love.”

Later life

Abe was sentenced to six years in prison which she served and was released. She tried to live her life in obscurity but the nature of her crime brought her back into the limelight. She wrote a book about her life and there were many other unofficial bios published.
The Abe craze started a little cottage industry in Japan. The hotels they stayed at saw a huge jump in business as young couples wanted to stay in the same room. Shinagawaka, the Inn where she was arrested, kept the room in the same condition as when the police caught her. In addition to the books published there are even some movies about her life, including a number of A/V films or Porn Movies.

Other Famous picturess

Related Posts:

Reagan Assassination Attempt

Behind the camera: Assembled media members and ABC cameraman Hank Brown
Where: In front of Washington (D.C.) Hilton Hotel located at 1919 Connecticut Ave. NW, near the intersection of Connecticut and Florida Avenues, a few blocks north of Dupont Circle
Photo Summary: The aftermath of John Hinckley’s assassination attempt
Picture Taken: March 30, 1981, 69 days into the United States Presidency of Ronald Reagan

Jerry get off, I think you’ve broken one of my ribs
-Regan to his secret service agent

Reagan’s shooter was a mentally ill John Hinckley Jr who had an obsession with actress Jodie Foster after seeing the film, Taxi Driver. He stalked her for a number of years before he decided that he needed to do something grand to get her attention. Hinckley decided to try and kill the president imitating Travis Bickle the lead character (played by Robert De Niro) of the movie Taxi Driver who also tried to kill a famous politician. On March 30, 1981, Hinkley ambushed the President who was leaving the Washington Hilton Hotel after delivering a luncheon address to AFL-CIO representatives. The attempt on Reagan’s life was caught on camera and is often used as one of the most famous pieces of footage of that era.

Video Breakdown




The footage starts with Aides to the President and then the President himself walking down to the Executive Limo parked outside the hotel. It seems like any other day and in the background, you can hear reporters about to ask questions. As the limo comes into the frame you can see a bald James Brady the President’s Press Secretary walk towards the cameraman. Just as Reagan reaches the Limo you hear loud pops, screams and then a commotion as Secret Service and Police wrestle Hinkley to the ground.
As the first shots ring out you can see secret service agent Tim McCarthy wearing a light blue suit go into an almost football stance as he tries to block the bullets from Hinkley’s gun. He succeeded in taking one of the bullets in his abdomen. Surgeons at George Washington University Hospital successfully removed the round from his stomach, and he fully recovered. He received the NCAA Award of Valor in 1982 in recognition of his bravery.
As the street clears you can see wounded lying on the street. James Brady, who took the first bullet, is the closest lying face down and not moving. Shot in the forehead he would suffer brain damage and became permanently disabled. Farthest away from the camera is secret service agent Tim McCarthy and right next to the wounded Brady is District of Columbia police officer Thomas Delehanty who was shot in the back by the third of John Hinckley, Jr.’s six bullets. He would later recover from his wounds.
As the camera pans down to Brady you can see Hinkley’s gun a Rohm RG-14 .22 cal. revolver on the ground and later you hear police asking for a tissue to take the gun into evidence. Agents are screaming for a police car to take Hinkley away. Eventually, the car comes but the rear door of the squad car jams so then they have to take him to another police car further down the street. As they hustle Hinkley into the patrol car the ambulance pulls up to treat the wounded.

Mr. President, today we are all Republicans
-Head surgeon and liberal Democrat Joseph Giordano

Reagan Remembers


My speech at the Hilton Hotel was not riotously received – I think most of the audience were Democrats – but at least they gave me polite applause. After the speech, I left the hotel through a side entrance and passed a line of press photographers and TV cameras.
I was almost to the car when I heard what sounded like two or three firecrackers over to my left – just a small fluttering sound, pop, pop, pop. I turned and said, “What the hell’s that?” Just then, Jerry Parr, the head of our Secret Service unit, grabbed me by the waist and literally hurled me into the back of the limousine. I landed on my face atop the armrest across the back seat and Jerry jumped on top of me. When he landed, I felt a pain in my upper back that was unbelievable. It was the most excruciating pain I had ever felt. “Jerry,” I said, “get off, I think you’ve broken one of my ribs.”
“The White House,” Jerry told the driver, then scrambled off me and got on the jump seat and the car took off. I tried to sit up on the edge of the seat and was almost paralyzed by pain. As I was straightening up, I had to cough hard and saw that the palm of my hand was brimming with extremely red frothy blood. “You not only broke a rib, I think the rib punctured my lung,” I said.
Jerry looked at the bubbles in the frothy blood and told the driver to head for George Washington University Hospital instead of the White House. By then my handkerchief was sopped with blood and he handed me his. Suddenly, I realized I could barely breathe. No matter how hard I tried, I couldn’t get enough air. I was frightened and started to panic a little. I just was not able to inhale enough air. We pulled up in front of the hospital emergency entrance and I was first out of the limo and into the emergency room. A nurse was coming to meet me and I told her I was having trouble breathing. Then all of a sudden my knees turned rubbery. The next thing I knew I was lying face up on a gurney and my brand-new pinstriped suit was being cut off me, never to be worn again.
The pain near my ribs was still excruciating, but what worried me most was that I still could not get enough air, even after the doctors placed a breathing tube in my throat. Every time I tried to inhale, I seemed to get less air. I remember looking up from the gurney, trying to focus my eyes on the square ceiling tiles, and praying. Then I guess I passed out for a few minutes. I was lying on the gurney only half-conscious when I realized that someone was holding my hand. It was a soft, feminine hand. I felt it come up and touch mine and then hold on tight to it. It gave me a wonderful feeling. Even now I find it difficult to explain how reassuring, how wonderful, it felt. It must have been the hand of a nurse kneeling very close to the gurney, but I couldn’t see her. I started asking, “Who’s holding my hand? Who’s holding my hand?” When I didn’t hear any response, I said, “Does Nancy know about us?” — Reagan autobiography

Regan again lost conscious and when he again woke up he saw his wife, First Lady Nancy Reagan. Still keeping his wits he jokingly explained, “Honey, I forgot to duck” (borrowing Jack Dempsey’s line to his wife the night he was beaten by Gene Tunney for the heavyweight championship).
Shortly before surgery to remove the bullet, which barely missed his heart, Reagan remarked to the surgical team, “Please tell me you’re all Republicans.” The head surgeon, liberal Democrat Joseph Giordano, replied, “Mr. President, today we are all Republicans.”
Reagan had been scheduled to visit Philadelphia on the day of the shooting. He told a nurse, “All in all, I’d rather be in Philadelphia,” a reference to the W.C. Fields’s tagline (which was itself a reference to an old vaudeville joke among comedians: “I would rather be dead than play Philadelphia”).

Other Famous pictures

Related Posts:

Iraqi Mobile Production Facilities

Behind the camera: A computer graphic based on sketches created from the description of mobile bio labs from Iraqi informant, Curveball
Where: Federal Government
Photo Summary: Iraq’s supposed mobile weapons of mass destruction vehicles
Picture Taken: First shown February 5, 2003
This image is in the public domain because it was taken by a federal employee

After the 911 attacks, the hawks in the Bush Whitehouse pushed for the invasion and overthrow of the Saddam regime. In order to build international support to mount an invasion of Iraq the Secretary of State in the Bush administration, General Colin Luther Powell, gave a presentation on the status of Iraq’s Weapons of Mass Destruction (WMDs). The speech given at a plenary session of the United Nations Security Council on February 5, 2003, was presented with Images of Iraq’s supposed WMD program including this image of Iraqi Mobile Production Facilities for biological weapons. The image was used by media around the world making it a household image.

The Intelligence

The reports of mobile biological weapons facilities emerged from supposed defectors of the Iraqi Weapons of Mass Destruction program. The Whitehouse cited four sources that claimed the mobile units existed.
The first reports came from an Iraqi defector, given the codename “curveball”, who came to Germany claiming asylum because he was accused by the Iraqi government of stealing money. In Nov 1999 Curveball changed his story claiming, to German intelligence agents, that he designed laboratory equipment to convert trucks into biological weapons laboratories. This intelligence was passed to the US who at that time were looking for evidence of mobile facilities.

Even though British intelligence and other Iraqi defectors found much of Curveball’s testimony to be false, divisions of the CIA saw his accounts of the facilities supporting descriptions of mobile labs they found on the internet and even though foreign intelligence agencies and even other divisions of the CIA particularly the European division maintained that Curveball’s testimony was false, the account of the mobile weapon labs was still used in Powell’s speech.

In February of 2002, the Iraqi National Congress (INC) provides Mohammad Harith who claims that on behalf of the Iraqi government he had purchased seven Renault refrigerated trucks so that they could be converted into mobile biological weapons laboratories. By May 2002 a “fabricator notice” is issued to the intelligence community concerning Harith’s testimony after the Defense Intelligence Agency (DIA) determined that the intelligence he provided was false and he been “coached by [the] Iraqi National Congress.” Even though the “fabricator notice” was sent out Mohammad Harith’s and Curveball’s discredited accounts of mobile labs were used in Powell’s speech.
The third source that was quoted by Powell as credible testified in June 2001 that Iraq had mobile weapons labs. However, this source later recanted in October of 2003 directly contradicting his earlier testimony. The fourth source cited by Powell remains classified.
US Intelligence was never able to photograph a mobile lab but through the eye witness accounts they pieced together determined that Iraq had, “perhaps 18 trucks that we know of.”

Actual Text of the February 5, 2003 UN presentation

One of the most worrisome things that emerges from the thick intelligence file we have on Iraq’s biological weapons is the existence of mobile production facilities used to make biological agents.
Let me take you inside that intelligence file and share with you what we know from eyewitness accounts. We have first-hand descriptions of biological weapons factories on wheels and on rails.

Some of the other slides used to show the Iraqi mobile production facilities used to make biological agents.
The trucks and train cars are easily moved and are designed to evade detection by inspectors. In a matter of months, they can produce a quantity of biological poison equal to the entire amount that Iraq claimed to have produced in the years prior to the Gulf War.
Although Iraq’s mobile production program began in the mid-1990s, UN inspectors at the time only had vague hints of such programs. Confirmation came later, in the year 2000. The source was an eyewitness, an Iraqi chemical engineer who supervised one of these facilities. He actually was present during biological agent production runs. He was also at the site when an accident occurred in 1998. 12 technicians died from exposure to biological agents.
He reported that when UNSCOM was in country and inspecting, the biological weapons agent production always began on Thursdays at midnight, because Iraq thought UNSCOM would not inspect on the Muslim holy day, Thursday night through Friday.
He added that this was important because the units could not be broken down in the middle of a production run, which had to be completed by Friday evening before the inspectors might arrive again.
This defector is currently hiding in another country with the certain knowledge that Saddam Hussein will kill him if he finds him. His eyewitness account of these mobile production facilities has been corroborated by other sources.
A second source. An Iraqi civil engineer in a position to know the details of the program confirmed the existence of transportable facilities moving on trailers.
A third source, also in a position to know, reported in summer, 2002, that Iraq had manufactured mobile production systems mounted on road-trailer units and on rail cars.
Finally, a fourth source. An Iraqi major who defected confirmed that Iraq has mobile biological research laboratories in addition to the production facilities I mentioned earlier.
We have diagrammed what our sources reported about these mobile facilities. Here you see both truck and rail-car mounted mobile factories. The description our sources gave us of the technical features required by such facilities is highly detailed and extremely accurate.
As these drawings, based on their description show, we know what the fermenters look like. We know what the tanks, pumps, compressors and other parts look like. We know how they fit together, we know how they work, and we know a great deal about the platforms on which they are mounted.
As shown in this diagram, these factories can be concealed easily — either by moving ordinary looking trucks and rail-cars along Iraq’s thousands of miles of highway or track or by parking them in a garage or a warehouse or somewhere in Iraq’s extensive system of underground tunnels and bunkers.
We know that Iraq has at least seven of these mobile, biological agent factories. The truck-mounted ones have at least two or three trucks each. That means that the mobile production facilities are very few — perhaps 18 trucks that we know of. There may be more. But perhaps 18 that we know of. Just imagine trying to find 18 trucks among the thousands and thousands of trucks that travel the roads of Iraq every single day.
It took the inspectors four years to find out that Iraq was making biological agents. How long do you think it will take the inspectors to find even one of these 18 trucks without Iraq coming forward as they are supposed to with the information about these kinds of capabilities.
Ladies and gentlemen, these are sophisticated facilities. For example, they can produce anthrax and botulism toxin. In fact, they can produce enough dry, biological agent in a single month to kill thousands upon thousands of people. A dry agent of this type is the most lethal form for human beings.

Aftermath

One of the trucks the US initially claimed was a mobile bio weapons lab facility

Shortly after the war, US forces did find some trucks that appeared to be mobile bio-weapons facilities. A press release was quickly sent out backing this point
up and numerous Whitehouse officials, including Bush, claimed these were the mobile bio labs that Colin Powell was talking about in his UN speech:

We found the weapons of mass destruction. We found biological laboratories. You remember when Colin Powell stood up in front of the world, and he said, Iraq has got laboratories, mobile labs to build biological weapons. They’re illegal. They’re against the United Nations resolutions, and we’ve so far discovered two.– President Bush

It soon emerged that the two trailers discovered were in fact not mobile weapons labs and an official report was released that gave the reasons why the discovered trucks could not be the bio lab trailers:

  • There was a critical absence of instrumentation for process monitoring and control of the process.
  • The positioning of the inlets and outlets on the reactor would make even the most basic functions (such as filling completely, emptying completely, and purging completely the vessel) either impractical or impossible to perform.
  • The lack of the ports required to introduce reagents would exacerbate this problem. These aspects of the design alone would render fermentation almost impossible to control.
  • The low-pressure air storage system capacity would be inadequate to provide the volume of compressed air required to operate the fermentation process over a complete aerobic production cycle. In addition, it would not be practical to charge and use the existing compressed gas storage with nitrogen or carbon dioxide for anaerobic fermentation. Similarly, the collection system for effluent gas would be wholly inadequate to deal with the volume of effluent gas produced during a complete production cycle.
  • Harvesting any product would be difficult and dangerous.
  • Back View


    The trucks were in fact what the Iraqi’s claimed them to be for, the production of hydrogen to fill balloons to determine target adjustments for long-range artillery targets. The original technology had been in fact sold to Saddam by a British company, Marconi Command & Control which sold the Iraqi army the Artillery Meteorological System, in 1987.

    After the Speech

    Even the day before the speech Powell and his longtime deputy Larry Wilkerson had doubts on the mobile bio labs. Larry Wilkerson remembers that “Powell and I were both suspicious because there were no pictures of the mobile labs [but the CIA] said: ‘This is it, Mr. Secretary. You can’t doubt this one,'” Powell was later asked to resign and did, announcing his resignation as Secretary of State on Monday, November 15, 2004. In 2005 he told Barbara Walters that he feels, “terrible” about giving the speech and when asked if it tarnished his reputation, Powell said, “Of course it will. It’s a blot. I’m the one who presented it on behalf of the United States to the world, and [it] will always be a part of my record. It was painful. It’s painful now.” On Sept 13, 2004, he told the Senate Governmental Affairs Committee that the intelligence that made up the speech he gave to the UN in 2003 was flawed and that it was, “unlikely that we will find any stockpiles” of WMDs in Iraq.

    Other Famous Images

    Related Posts:

    Donald Rumsfeld Shakes Hands With Saddam Hussein

    Behind the camera: Iraqi State TV
    Where: Baghdad, Iraq
    Photo Summary: Donald Rumsfeld shaking hands with Saddam Hussein surrounded by aides from both parties.
    Picture Taken: Dec 20, 1983
    This image is in the public domain because it was taken by a federal employee

    America has had a love-hate relationship with Iraq. After the Iranian revolution, Iraq became America’s best friend in the Persian Gulf. That all changed after Saddam’s invasion of Kuwait in 1991. When this video was first released, in 1983, it quietly slid into oblivion. As government “Hawks” used Weapons of Mass destruction (WMDs) as reasons to overthrow his government the footage saw a resurgence in popularity. Critics like to use the video to illustrate how Donald Rumsfeld was shaking hands with Saddam in 1983, even though government intelligence knew he was using WMDs against Iran and his own people. The argument being: why is America taking the moral stance now when as shown by this video the American government had no problems with him using WMDs and selling him the means to make more.

    America Backs Iraq



    When the Iraq-Iran War broke out in September 1980 it was American policy to let the two nations fight it out. America had turned anti-Iran since the Iranian revolution and its hostage crisis. America had no love for Saddam in Iraq either, at the time he was part of the Soviet sphere of influence and backed terrorist attacks against the US’s close ally, Israel.
    This all changed when Iran started to make significant gains in the war. President Ronald Reagan saw disaster if Iran’s revolutionary government overran Iraq and so Reagan created the National Security Decision Directive 114 on Nov. 26, 1983. This directive changed US policy from neutral observer to active supplier of military supplies, battlefield intelligence, and most controversially, the dual-use technology that allowed Saddam to create WMDs. Howard Teicher, who served on Reagan’s National Security Council described in sworn statements how, “CIA Director Casey personally spearheaded the effort to ensure that Iraq had sufficient military weapons, ammunition, and vehicles to avoid losing the Iran-Iraq war,”

    Special Envoy Rumsfeld

    During his period as Reagan’s Special Envoy to the Middle East (November 1983 – May 1984), Rumsfeld was the main conduit for crucial American military intelligence, hardware and strategic advice to Saddam Hussein, while Iraq was fighting Iran in the Iran-Iraq war. His first visit was when this footage was taken, from December 19 – December 20, 1983. He and Saddam Hussein had a 90-minute discussion that covered Syria’s occupation of Lebanon, preventing Syrian and Iranian expansion, preventing arms sales to Iran by foreign countries, and increasing Iraqi oil production via a possible new oil pipeline across Jordan (Syria had shut down a Syrian-Iraqi pipeline).
    Later Rumsfeld would try and claim that in his “head to head” meeting with Saddam he brought up Saddam’s use of Chemical weapons on the battlefield. However, it was later revealed that Rumsfeld didn’t discuss the issue with Saddam but instead brought it up at a later meeting with Tariq Aziz (Iraqi Deputy Prime Minister and Foreign Minister) in passing as part of a list of issues that “inhibited” US assistance.

    Republican Presidential nomination

    In 1988 when Rumsfeld made a short-lived run for President the campaign was quoted as saying that one of his great achievements while in office was to “reopen U.S. relations with Iraq.” Even though by 1988 Iraq had been actively using chemical weapons against Iran and even his own people for years.
    Golden Spurs

    Rumsfeld didn’t come empty-handed on his trips to Iraq bringing a wide range of gifts from the Reagan administration including pistols, medieval spiked hammers even a pair of golden cowboy spurs. These were all displayed in at Saddam’s Victory Museum in Baghdad, which held all the gifts bestowed on Saddam by world leaders.

    Other famous images

    Related Posts:

    Bush – Mission Accomplished

    President Bush after landing on the USS Abraham Lincoln. He made the landing with a pilot, a secret service agent and a reserve pilot.
    Behind the camera: Press Pool
    Where: Flight deck of the USS Abraham Lincoln which was 30 miles from the coast of California
    Photo Summary: George W. Bush giving his famous speech announcing the end of ‘major combat operations’ in the 2003 War on Iraq.
    Picture Taken: May 1, 2003

    In the Battle of Iraq, the United States and our allies have prevailed
    -President Bush in his speech under the banner

    On May 1, 2003 George W. Bush landed on the aircraft carrier USS Abraham Lincoln a Lockheed S-3 Viking (Navy One had been painted on the side), where he gave a speech announcing the end of major combat operations in the War on Iraq. Clearly visible in the background was a banner stating “Mission Accomplished.” Bush critics pointed to the seemingly premature declaration the war over as evidence of the arrogance and lack of planning in the Iraq War. The mission was in fact just beginning as major combat operations hadn’t ended American military casualties. After the speech casualties grew and eventually exceeded those killed before the speech. The controversy surrounding the speech and the banner in the background made video clips and pictures of the speech famous.




    Where Did The Banner Come From?

    As criticism mounted the White House who had in the Lincoln speech and other press releases implied that the war was over, backpedalled stating that they didn’t mean to imply that the Iraq War was over and that the Navy had, in fact, put the banner up for a totally different reason. As Navy Commander and Pentagon spokesman Conrad Chun put it, the banner referred specifically to the aircraft carrier’s 10-month deployment (which was the longest deployment of a carrier since the Vietnam War) and not the war itself “It truly did signify a mission accomplished for the crew.”
    The White House claimed that the banner was requested by the crew of the ship. Afterwards, the administration and naval sources stated that the banner was the Navy’s idea, White House staff members made the banner, and it was hung by U.S. Navy personnel. White House spokesman Scott McClellan told CNN “We took care of the production of it. We have people to do those things. But the Navy actually put it up.” The White House when further pressed by TIME magazine was forced to admit that they made the banner and hung it up but still clung to the line that it had been done at the request of the crew members.

    Premature

    The event was criticized by many as premature — especially later as the guerrilla war began to take its toll. Subsequently, the White House released a statement saying that the sign and Bush’s visit referred to the initial invasion of Iraq. Bush’s speech noted:
    “We have difficult work to do in Iraq. We are bringing order to parts of that country that remain dangerous.” However, the speech also said that “In the Battle of Iraq, the United States and our allies have prevailed.”

    President Bush after landing on the USS Abraham Lincoln. He made the landing with a pilot, a secret service agent and a reserve pilot.


    For critics of the war, the photo-op became a symbol of the administration’s unrealistic goals and perceptions of the conflict. Anti-war activists questioned the integrity and realism of George W. Bush’s “Major combat” statement. The banner came to symbolize the irony of the President giving a victory speech only a few weeks after the beginning of a relatively long war. Many in the administration came to regret the slogan. Some even going so far as to edit the White House website’s official video of the speech that Bush made on the aircraft carrier, cropping the video to conceal the “Mission Accomplished” banner.

    The Jet Landing

    Before the speech, Bush made a historic jet landing on the carrier, the first by a sitting president. While the president was a former pilot in the National Guard he did not land the plane, leaving the dangerous carrier landing to Navy Cmdr. John Lussier. At the time it was criticized by opponents as an overly theatrical and expensive stunt. For instance, they pointed to the fact that the carrier was well within the range of Bush’s helicopter, and that a jet landing was not needed. Originally the White House had stated that the carrier was too far off the California coast for a helicopter landing and a jet would be needed to reach it. It was later revealed that on the day of the speech, the Lincoln was only 30 miles from shore but the administration still decided to go ahead with the jet landing. White House spokesman Ari Fleischer admitted that the president “could have helicoptered, but the plan was already in place. Plus, he wanted to see a landing the way aviators see a landing.” The Lincoln waited offshore while the President slept before it returned to its home base in Everett, Washington on May 6, 2003.

    Other Famous pictures

    Related Posts:

    Challenger Explosion

    Behind the camera: NASA Tracking Camera
    Where: Kennedy Space Center, Florida
    Photo Summary: Space Shuttle Challenger breaking up soon after takeoff
    Picture Taken: Jan 28, 1986
    This image is in the public domain because it was taken by a federal employee

    The Challenger crew on that Jan 28, 1986 morning was a PC dream team. Two white women (Sharon Christa McAuliffe and Judy Resnik), an Asian American (Ellison S. Onizuka), an African American (Ron McNair), and three white men (Greg Jarvis, Michael J. Smith, and Dick Scobee). McAuliffe was the first citizen astronaut, a teacher, who won a place on board Challenger by beating out a group of 11,000 other entrants. During the mission, she was going to broadcast live a lesson to millions of school children across the country. When the seven boarded that morning they had to step carefully as they entered the shuttle, as the boarding platform was covered in ice from an unusual Florida deep freeze. It was this same cold weather that would ultimately doom their launch.

    Canadian Cold Front

    Ice formed on the Challenger

    Icicles on the day of the launch


    The odd cold front had come down from Canada putting much of Florida well below freezing. Ice-covered the shuttle while it was waiting for take-off at the Kennedy Space Center. These cold temperatures, which dropped to –5 C (20 Fahrenheit), raised concerns in the control room and after the astronauts had entered the shuttle, the launch was delayed to allow the temp to increase. Some of the concerns were about the two booster rockets, more specifically the two booster rocket’s O-rings that helped seal together the different segments that made up each rocket. Engineers had come to the conclusion that the O-rings’ design was flawed in extremely cold conditions like those reached on Jan 28. When the temperature dropped the O-rings became brittle and they would not expand to prevent ignited rocket fuel from bursting out through the seals.

    Previous launches had come dangerously close to Challenger’s fate with much higher take-off temperatures, the lowest up to that point was 12 C (53 Fahrenheit). Roger Boisjoly, an engineer at, Morton Thiokol the contractor who built the booster rockets, became so concerned that he and his co-workers tried to stop the cold weather, Challenger launch. NASA managers listened to their concerns and told the group they had 45min to prove the launch would fail, “We had 45 minutes to prepare for the most important meeting of our lives,” Boisjoly said. After the presentation NASA still refused to delay the launch, putting the O-ring issue in the acceptable flight risk category. Morton Thiokol company managers also backed down. Perhaps fearing that any delays might damage their upcoming contract renewal they made a “management decision” overriding their engineers and refused to take the issue any farther.
    Oblivious to all this, the seven astronauts patiently waited for the go-ahead. After a 2 hour wait, the green light was given. The following are excerpts from the timeline that started at 11:38 a.m. EST, Jan. 28, 1986 when the solid rocket ignition command was sent.

    Transcript



    0.000 – Solid rocket ignition command is sent.
    Astronaut Judy Resnik, intercom: “Aaall Riight!”
    1.000 – Shuttle pilot Michael Smith, intercom: “Here we go.”
    3.375 – Launch commentator Hugh Harris, NASA-SELECT television: “… Liftoff of the 25th space shuttle mission, and it has cleared the tower.”
    11.000 – Smith, intercom: “Go you mother.”
    15.000 – Resnik, intercom: “Shit hot!”
    19.000 – Smith, intercom: “Looks like we’ve got a lot of wind here today.” Shuttle commander Dick Scobee: “Yeah.”
    22.000 – Scobee, intercom: “It’s a little hard to see out my window here.”
    28.000 – Smith, intercom: “There’s 10,000 feet and Mach point five.” The shuttle is 10,000 feet high travelling at half the speed of sound.
    40.000 – Smith, intercom: “There’s Mach 1.”
    59.000 – Challenger passes through the region of maximum aerodynamic pressure, experiencing 720 pounds per square foot.
    59.262 – A continuous “well defined intense plume” of exhaust is seen on the side of the suspect booster by tracking cameras. This is clear evidence of an O-ring joint burn through.
    59.753 – First visual evidence of flame on the right-side booster. 70 mm tracking camera closeup: A flickering tongue of flame appears on the side of the right-side booster away from the shuttle and quickly becomes continuous.
    60.000 – Smith, intercom: “Feel that mother go!” Unknown, intercom: “Wooooo Hooooo!”
    64.660 – The plume from the burn through changes shape suddenly, indicating a leak has started in the shuttle’s liquid hydrogen tank to fuel the fire.
    64.705 – A bright, sustained glow is photographed on the side of the external fuel tank.
    65.000 – Scobee, intercom: “Reading four eighty six on mine.” This is a routine airspeed indicator check. Smith: “Yep, that’s what I’ve got, too.”

    66.764 – The pressure in the shuttle’s external liquid hydrogen tank begins to drop, indicating a massive leak. Smith had real-time readings of pressure in the liquid hydrogen tank, but it is doubtful he noticed anything unusual because of the rapidity of the failure. It made no difference, ultimately, because even if Challenger’s pilots had suspected an SRB problem there was nothing they could have done about it. While the shuttle separates from its external fuel tank shortly before reaching orbit, it does so with no engines firing and in a benign aerodynamic environment. As Scobee and Smith well knew, separating from the tank while the SRBs were firing would drive the shuttle into the bottom of the fuel tank.
    68.000 – Mission Control spokesman Steve Nesbitt in Houston: “Engines are throttling up. Three engines now at 104 percent.”
    Dick Covey, mission control: “Challenger, go at throttle up.”
    70.000 – Scobee calmly responds, air-to-ground: “Roger, go at throttle up.”
    73.000 (approximate) – Smith, intercom: “Uh oh…” This is the last comment captured by the crew cabin intercom recorder. Smith may have been responding to indications on main engine performance or falling pressures in the external fuel tank.
    [midgoogle]

    O-rings


    The booster Orings


    On the ground, onlookers who had braved the cold watched in horror as the O-rings failed and superheated ignited fuel from inside the booster rocket acted as a blowtorch and igniting the huge external fuel tank. A fireball exploded across the sky as metal flew everywhere and the two booster rockets free of the shuttle spiralled off into the sky. In the stands the children of pilot Mike Smith at first stared in shocked silence and then started screaming, “I want my father! I want my father! He told us it was safe!” AP reporter Howard Benedict dictated the breaking news over the phone to the New York office, “There was no immediate indication on the fate of the crew, but it appeared that nobody could have survived that fireball in the sky.”
    Yet, Howard Benedict was wrong. Years after the crash, officials acknowledged that the crew cabin of the shuttle survived the shuttle break-up, intact. There was no real explosion, no detonation of the huge amounts of fuel carried by the shuttle. As the shuttle structure was broken down from the leaking flaming booster rocket it was torn apart by incredible aerodynamic forces outside the supersonic shuttle. At 48,000 ft., the shuttle ripped apart freeing the crew section, which still under great momentum flew to a peak altitude of 65,000 ft before returning back to earth. As the crew compartment flew higher, released fuel from the External Tank (ET) and shuttle burned in seconds creating the huge fireball seen below. The force that tore apart the rest of the shuttle wasn’t great enough to destroy the crew compartment, in part because air density at that height is much lower. Recovered flight recorder data revealed that Shuttle computers still functioned after the break-up, even shutting down the engines when sensors showed there was no fuel.

    Did the crew survive the explosion?

    The G-Forces from the breakup and descent back to earth may have rendered the crew unconscious but it was revealed that on the trip down at least some of the crew where awake. Of the four emergency oxygen tanks, called Personal Egress Air Packs or PEAPs, that were recovered from the ocean, three had been turned on. One of the PEAPs was identified as Smith’s and because the switch was located on the back of his seat investigators believe either Resnik or Onizuka, who sat behind Smith, had the presence of mind after the shuttle break up, to turn it on. It wasn’t until what was left of the shuttle smashed into the ocean at 200 mph some 2 minutes and 45 seconds after the disaster that the compartment was crushed and all inside killed instantly.
    The fact that the crew wasn’t killed when the shuttle came apart wasn’t revealed until years after the crash. NASA officials still don’t like to talk about the fate of the crew after the 73-sec mark when the spacecraft broke up. Their resistance to making public such things as photos of the wreckage, autopsy reports, and other data recording sparked a number of conspiracy theories on the internet. One such viral email included a faked transcript of the final minutes and rumors that some of Challenger crew even survived the ocean crash but died at the bottom of the sea while waiting for a rescue.

    Wreckage


    Challenger wreckage still washes up


    Efforts to find the wreckage in the waters off Florida were at first hampered by falling debris. Soon Navy and coast guard ships were helping in the search for shuttle remains. It took months to get all the wreckage that was recovered but efforts were complicated by the huge search area 1165 square kilometres (450 square miles), water depths of 15 to 365 meters (50 to 1,200 feet), currents of four to six knots, and the sheer number of shuttle pieces. In all 15 tons of debris was pulled from the ocean. 55% of Challenger, 5% of the cabin crew and 65% of the satellite cargo still lies on the ocean floor; occasionally some of it washes up on Florida beaches. The US government still owns the wreckage and under Title 18, United States Code, Section 641 charges anyone who is in possession of Challenger Debris. After the investigation, all recovered pieces of the space shuttle were moved to two abandoned Minuteman Missile Silos at Complex 31 at the Cape Canaveral Air Force Station.

    Whitehouse Pressure?



    Ronald Reagan was supposed to give his State of the Union address the night of the launch. After the crash, a number of rumors surfaced that the Whitehouse pressured the shuttle to launch over NASA concerns because Reagan wanted to incorporate the astronauts in his speech. The rumors were taken seriously enough to be investigated by commissions into the cause of Challenger crash but no evidence of Whitehouse pressure was found. That evening instead of the State of the Union address Reagan gave a national address on the Challenger disaster. At the end of the speech he quoted a poem that was a favorite of aviators and astronauts, “High Flight” by John Gillespie Magee, Jr.: “We will never forget them, nor the last time we saw them, this morning, as they prepared for their journey and waved good-bye and “slipped the surly bonds of earth” to “touch the face of God.” Weeks after the crash all seven bodies were recovered from the water. Remains that could be identified were returned to their respective families on April 29, 1986. Dick Scobee and Michael Smith’s families chose to bury their bodies in Arlington National Cemetery. Body parts not able to be identified were buried together at a Space Shuttle Challenger Memorial in Arlington on May 20, 1986.

    Why?

    The Challenger crash was not the result of design flaws in the booster rockets. The crash also had nothing to do with the replacement of the original asbestos-bearing putty in the booster seals. The O-ring seals performed better than the asbestos putty and they would have functioned safely IF the weather conditions that cold Jan day were warmer. NASA operated under the idea of acceptable risk, and problems that weren’t deemed urgent were put aside to be dealt with in the future. Management forgot the “principles of safely operating on the edge of extreme hazards.” After the shuttle tragedy, problems that had concerned NASA engineers in the past were brought forward. Among the 400 changes made before the next launch of the space shuttle Discovery, 32 months later, on September 29, 1988, was the addition of electric heaters installed in the O-rings to keep them at maximum performance.
    Challenger crashed because management at NASA concerned with Challenger’s many launch delays and the effect of the delays on congress’s funding chose to suppress pre-launch valid safety concerns. Post-Challenger NASA had safety personnel and representatives from the major contractors included in the mission management team, the group that gives the green light to shuttle launches and shuttle flight operations. Some tried to spin the Challenger tragedy by saying that the loss of human life was the price for expanding into space but this is only true of disasters that are unpreventable. The loss of the space shuttle Challenger and its seven crew was due to incompetent management, not unpreventable events. The disaster was unnecessary.

    Other Famous Pictures

    Related Posts:

    Oswald Backyard Shots

    Behind the camera: Oswald’s Russian wife Marina using the Imperial 620 Duo Lens Camera
    Where: Oswald’s Backyard
    Photo Summary: Lee Harvey Oswald holding two left-wing newspapers The Militant and The Worker which are dated March 11 and March 24. In addition to the two papers, Oswald is holding a rifle, and has a .38 caliber revolver strapped to his waist.
    Picture Taken: Sunday, March 31, 1963

    The world stopped on Nov 22, 1963, when President John F. Kennedy was assassinated while driving his open limo through the streets of Dallas. The murder of JFK has almost from the second Kennedy was killed been shrouded in conspiracy theories and intense public interest. One of the many figures that became infamous as a result is the supposed lone gunman, Lee Harvey Oswald.

    Lee Harvey Oswald

    While growing up with his family Lee Harvey Oswald moved constantly around America. Before the age of 18, Oswald had lived in 22 different residences and attended 12 different schools, around New Orleans and Dallas. He had trouble spelling and writing and some say he had a learning disorder like dyslexia. Perhaps because of this and his constant movements, he never finished high school.

    Going from left to right are pictures CE-113A, CE-113B and CE-113C.

    Though he had trouble with school he had a voracious appetite for books and by 15 became an ardent Marxist. His socialist beliefs didn’t stop him from joining the marines, an action seen as following in his idolized older brother’s, Robert, footsteps. He was accepted and trained as a radar operator and spent time at various military bases throughout the Pacific. In the Marines, he scored a rating of sharpshooter but in the latter rating, he qualified as a marksman, a lower classification. Experts examining his records characterized his firearms proficiency as “above average” for the Military. The same experts when comparing average civilian males his age called Oswald, “an excellent shot.” In the marines he was court marshalled twice, first as a result of accidentally shooting himself in the elbow with a small, unauthorized handgun and later for starting a fight with a sergeant he thought responsible for the penalty he received.

    Oswald goes to the USSR


    Warren Commission Image of Oswald in Minsk, USSR


    Disillusioned by his experience in the marines, he was able to get a “hardship” discharge by saying that he needed to care for his sick mother. After spending just one day with his mother he boarded a ship and travelled to the Soviet Union where he renounced his US citizenship and asked to join the Soviet motherland. The Soviet authorities at first denied his request but allowed him to stay after Oswald attempted suicide. He was sent to Minsk where he could be easily watched and worked as a metal lathe operator at the Gorizont (Horizon) Electronics Factory in Minsk, a sprawling complex that produced radio and televisions along with military and space electronic components. His friends and co-workers gave him the nickname, Alek, as Lee sounded too Chinese.
    Oswald spent almost 3 years in the Soviet Union but became disillusioned with the monotony and bureaucracy of the Soviet system and after a honeymoon period started to look into moving back to the States. At a dance in early 1961, Oswald meets Marina Alexandrovna Nikolayevna Medvedeva Prusakova, a 19-year-old student. One month later they married and Marina soon became pregnant with their first daughter, June.

    Lee Harvey Returns

    Almost a year of paperwork finally got Oswald and his family an exit visa, and on June 1, 1962, the three moved back to America setting up in Dallas. A number of failed jobs followed and without the friends and a social life that he had in Minsk, Oswald began to look back at his time in the USSR with nostalgia. He even looked into moving back to the USSR or perhaps Cuba.

    These reborn socialist feelings probably inspired Oswald’s attempted assassination of General Walker, an outspoken anti-communist, anti-civil right, former US General fired for giving men under his command right-wing propaganda. On April 10, 1963, from less than 100 feet Oswald took a shot at Walker who was sitting at his desk. The bullet hit the wooden window frame and instead of killing Walker deflected into his forearm. Oswald’s next attempt at a sniper shot would be from the Texas School Book Depository.

    Shots from the Book Depository

    The rifle in the picture and used to kill the President


    Oswald had got a job working at the Texas School Book Depository via an acquaintance. On Nov 22, 12:30 pm Oswald shot Kennedy from the 6th story window of the Depository. Oswald fired three shots in 8.3 seconds, fatally wounding President Kennedy and critically wounding Governor John Connally. After the assassination, Oswald hid the rifle behind some boxes and ran outside the building toward an unknown destination. Oswald was stopped by Officer JD tippet and when Tippet got out of his car Oswald shot and killed him using a pistol. He then ran into a Theater that was playing the film “War Is Hell” starring Audie Murphy. A suspicious theatre worker called the police and after a struggle police arrested Oswald.

    Dallas detectives exercising a search warrant of the Paine house on November 23, 1963, discovered a number of pictures including the one used on the February 21, 1964, Life magazine cover. Marina, Lee’s wife, had been staying with the Paine family. Donald Uhrbrock, a Life photographer, obtained the cover shot from copies he made from photographs in the police files. The cover shot was one of three similar shots later given the name, the backyard pictures. The shots have been shrouded in allegations that they were faked partly due to the retouching that occurred when LIFE used the image on their cover. (The February 21, 1964 issue with Oswald on the cover contained a number of articles including Oswald: Evolution of an Assassin, and Was Jack Ruby Insane?) Oswald himself, when shown the pictures by Dallas Police after his arrest, insisted they were fakes.

    Photos faked?

    In the Detroit Free Press and Newsweek magazines the sniper scope was erased while adjusting the contrast, a common procedure with magazines


    To investigate the assassination of the U.S. President John F. Kennedy Lyndon B. Johnson established The Warren Commission, named after its chairman, United States Supreme Court Chief Justice Earl Warren on November 29, 1963. Another commission was established in 1978, the House Select Committee on Assassinations (HSCA) to investigate the Kennedy and Martin Luther assassinations. The HSCA looked into allegations that the backyard pictures were faked. After extensive analysis using the latest technologies available the HSCA determined that the images were authentic. Some of the allegations involving the backyard pictures that were disproved by the HSCA included:
    Unnatural lines in the vicinity of Oswald’s chin

  • Inconsistent square-shaped chin
  • Unnatural and inconsistent shadows
  • Identical heads and inconsistent body proportions in the three shots
  • Identical backgrounds in the three shots
  • Disappearing sniper scope
  • In a 1978 BBC television documentary Malcolm Thompson, a British forensic photography expert determined that the backyard pictures were composites. Similarly, a photographic analyst with the Canadian Department of Defence reached the same conclusion. On seeing the evidence and thoroughness of the HSCA investigation both experts recanted their conclusion and agreed that the backyard pictures were genuine.
    The photos are continuously examined by experts in the photographic field. As recently as November 2009 Hany Farid, director of the Neukom Institute for Computational Science at Dartmouth confirmed the pictures were authentic. Farid was able to use the latest software to recreate the sun on that day. It was this software that determined that the shadows in the picture were where they were supposed to be. “You can never really prove an image is real, but the evidence that people have pointed to that the photo is fake is incorrect,” Farid said, “As an academic and a scientist, I don’t like to say it’s absolutely authentic … but it’s extremely unlikely to have been a fake.”

    Camera used


    Oswald's camera used to take the picture The front plate reads: "DUO LENS - 620 - IMPERIAL REFLEX - MADE IN U.S.A."


    Marina used the Imperial 620 Duo Lens Camera a very cheap and light model that uses 620 film (620 film is no longer manufactured). The camera is almost entirely made of plastic with both the lens and the viewfinder also made out of plastic. To take a picture using the Imperial, one looked down into the top of the camera which had a mirror inclined to 45 degrees in order to see the subject of the shot.

    Taking the pictures

    Marina told the Warren Commission that she took the pictures in the backyard of the Oswald residence on Neeley Street in Dallas around March 1963. She gave different versions of exactly when the pictures were taken and was only sure that they were taken on a Sunday. However investigators were able to figure out when the pictures were taken by noting that the two left-wing newspapers Oswald is holding, The Militant and The Worker, are dated March 11 and March 24. Contacting the newspapers they determined that the publications were mailed on March 7 and March 21, by second-class mail. The postal service testified that the newspapers would have arrived in Dallas by March 28. From all this information, the Commission established the date on which the photographs were taken to be Sunday, March 31, 1963.

    In addition to the two papers, Oswald is holding a rifle and has a .38 calibre revolver strapped to his waist. The 1978 Committee determined that the rifle in the picture was the same used to shoot Kennedy. The revolver was also determined to be the same one used to kill Officer Tippit when Oswald was trying to make his escape.
    During the Warren Commission, the pictures were labelled as exhibit CE 133-A and CE 133-B. Only one negative was found and the commission gave it the title, CE 749; it was the original negative of 133-B. The negative for photo 133-A was never found. Another photo was discovered much later and was used in the 1978 House Select Committee on Assassinations. Mrs. Geneva Dees of Paris, Tex handed over this photograph to the committee on December 30, 1976. Mrs. Dees testified that her former husband, Roscoe White, now deceased, acquired the photo while employed with the Dallas Police at the time of the assassination. The new third picture was promptly named 133-C.

    Other Famous Images

    Related Posts:

    Patty Hearst

    Behind the camera: Hibernia Bank security cameras
    Where: Sunset District branch of the Hibernia Bank in San Francisco
    Photo Summary: Patricia Campbell Hearst, known at the time as Tania, wielding a modified M1 Carbine with MP-40 stock and shortened barrel during a bank robbery.
    Picture Taken: Robbery took place at 9:40 A.M. April 15, 1974 they were in the bank for 4min.
    This image is in the public domain because it was taken by a federal employee

    The Symbionese Liberation Army (S.L.A.) shot to media fame when on February 4, 1974, when they kidnapped 19-year-old, Patricia Campbell Hearst, the heiress and granddaughter of publishing magnate William Randolph Hearst. The media coverage again peaked when pictures of her robbing a bank were released. She had gone from being the victim to what appeared to be a willing and active participant in her captor’s terrorist group.

    Symbionese Liberation Army


    Patty Hearst Propaganda Poster

    The Symbionese Liberation Army was an American terrorist group born out of a number of radical prison advocacy groups. The organization was created after the escape of Donald DeFreeze one of the founding members and leader of the SLA. While hiding out, DeFreeze and other SLA members developed the group’s imagery of the seven-headed cobra which they borrowed from naga, ancient Sri Lankan stone carvings depicting a seven-headed Cobra. Naga were placed around water sources as protectors or guardians of clean water.

    DeFreeze explained the term “Symbionese” in the SLA manifesto, Symbionese Liberation Army Declaration of Revolutionary War & the Symbionese Program: “The name ‘symbionese’ is taken from the word symbiosis and we define its meaning as a body of dissimilar bodies and organisms living in deep and loving harmony and partnership in the best interest of all within the body.”
    The SLA participated in a number of acts of terrorism before assassinating superintendent of schools Dr. Marcus Foster. As a result of the murder, two members of the SLA, Joseph Remiro, and Russell Little were arrested. In an effort to free their two comrades the SLA hatched a plan to kidnap an important figure so that they make a prisoner switch. They chose publishing heiress Patricia Hearst who they hoped would increase the news coverage of their group and its goals.

    The Capture of Patty Hearst

    19-year-old Patty Hearst was seized on February 4, 1974, from her Berkeley, California residence that she shared with her fiancé and former teacher, Steven Weed. She was taken to a house in Daly City, California where she was kept in a closet, which was 24 in. wide and 66 in. long, for 4½ weeks. While held in the closet Hearst claims to have been sexually and physically assaulted and had her life threatened unless she cooperated. She was moved again to a third-floor studio apartment in a black neighborhood in northern San Francisco, #6-1827 Golden Gate Ave, where she was kept for another 4 weeks in a closet, 19 in. wide and 60 in. long. For 57 days she was held, “Blindfolded, gagged, tied up,” in small closets during which she was heavily indoctrinated with SLA political literature. This period of confinement and abuse at the hands of the SLA would be used as evidence of her brainwashing. Later doctors would claim that she suffered from Stockholm syndrome, where hostages in a survival response sympathize with the aims of their captors.

    Ransom Attempt


    Hearst in hibernia bank yelling

    Hearst Yelling, 'I'm Tania. Up against the wall, motherfuckers.'


    After her capture talks for a prisoner swap broke down and instead the SLA demanded that the Hearst family distribute millions of dollars of free food to needy families and to publish their political writings. The demands were met by the Hearst family but Patty was not released, when the SLA said more food had to be given away Randolph Hearst, Patty’s father, demanded that in exchange for the food his daughter was to be released. After Randolph Hearst’s condition was given, the talks stopped.

    Patty Hearst becomes Tania

    The weeks past with the only news that Patty was alive being tapes or “communiqués” as the SLA called them. On the recorded messages Patty seemed to be drifting towards the SLA agenda and eventually, she announced that she had joined the cause and released a picture of her holding a gun in front of the SLA cobra (shown right). One of these taped announcements also told how she had changed her name to “Tania”, after the famous German communist revolutionary associated with Che Guevara. It was assumed that she was being forced to say these things until the FBI released security footage of “Tania” robbing a bank.

    Hibernia Bank Robbery


    Bank Heist of the Hearst-hibernia

    Hearst leaving the bank with DeFreeze to the left


    At 9:40 A.M. on April 15, 1974, four white women and a black man burst into the Sunset District branch of the Hibernia Bank in San Francisco yelling, “It’s a hold-up! Down on the floor! On your faces, you motherfuckers!”. The group was led by Donald DeFreeze and accompanying him were SLA members Patricia Soltysik, Camilla Hall, Nancy Ling Perry and Patty Hearst. In four minutes they managed to rob the bank of $10,000, wound two bystanders and make a clean getaway in a waiting car. Patty recounted her memory of the robbery on Larry King:

    “I said my name and — because I was supposed to say my name and make a speech, but it’s all pretty unclear, And then, Donald DeFreeze shot someone, and then everything went blank. … My next memory is sitting in the car leaving (the bank).

    “[After the robbery] I sensed that I had, in fact, crossed over some sharp line of demarcation. … For me, suddenly it became plain: There was no turning back.”

    When the attorney general saw the footage he determined that Hearst had not been forced but was a willing participant in the robbery. He issued a warrant for her arrest as a “material witness”
    This later changed when another SLA “communiqués” was released where Patty claimed that at no time was a gun pointed at her, that her family were the enemy (the “pig Hearsts”), her fiancé, Steven Weed, was “an ageist, sexist pig.” and that the robbery was an “expropriation”: “Greetings to the people, this is Tania … the difference between a criminal act and a revolutionary act is what the money is used for.” It was on this tape that she declared the idea of her being brainwashed was ridiculous. After the released tape her status was changed to reflect that she admitted full participation in the crime.

    Shootout

    from like the day I was taken … I started changing my views about things
    -Patty Hearst

    After the Bank robbery, DeFreeze decided to move the group to LA so as to recruit more members. Emily and William Harris were shopping with Hearst when a security guard moved to arrest the two for shoplifting. Hearst, who was waiting outside, started firing at the outside of the store. FBI agent Charles Bates remembers that “(Hearst) pointed an M-1 carbine and fired the whole clip, … And then she took another rifle and shot some more. As I recall, there’s about 30 shots, and there were people walking along the sidewalk. … Thank God she missed them.”
    The three were able to escape and ditched the van and commandeered a series of vehicles the last of which had a driver, teenager Dan Russell. Dan recalls his ordeal and that while he was alone asked Hearst, “When did you decide to go with, join their army deal?” he remembers she shrugged and replied, “I just started listening and learning from like the day I was taken away, and I started changing my views about things. It was a real process, the way I see it.” In their hurry to get away the trio forgot to clean out the van before they ditched it. When police found the van a parking ticket led to the SLA safe house.

    When the other members of the SLA saw the news coverage of the incident they fled the safe house but with nowhere to go took over a house that just happened to have its lights on. Police were called and hundreds of police and swat officers descended on the house. By morning the house was surrounded and police broadcast for the people inside to come out. Some of the residents were allowed by the SLA to come out, but the SLA stayed inside. Tear gas was lobbed which sparked a two-hour shootout were over 5,371 rounds were fired at the house.
    Either the tear gas or one of the thousands of bullets ignited the house and SLA members Angela Atwood, Donald DeFreeze, Camilla Hall, Nancy Ling Perry, Patricia Soltysik, and William Wolfe were killed. William Harris, Emily Harris, and Patty Hearst watched the shootout live on TV from a motel room. As part of her brainwashing, she was told that the police were hunting for her and wanted her dead. At her trial, she would point at the shootout as proof that she couldn’t turn herself in as she thought the police would kill her.

    On the run and Trial


    Patty Hearst Mug Shot

    Patty Hearst Mug Shot


    The three remaining members William Harris, Emily Harris, and Patty Hearst moved back to the San Fransisco area where they recruited more members and robbed two more banks and tried to bomb some LAPD cars. To avoid arrest Hearst and the others move around the country but in September 1975 the law finally catches up to her and she is caught and booked on bank robbery charges. While being processed she is shown smiling with the clinched handcuffed fist of a revolutionary and was quoted as saying “urban guerrilla.” when asked for her occupation.
    This defiant attitude would soon change to that of the brainwashed victim during her trial. The prosecutor was able to show that Hearst had plenty of chances to get away and got the Harris couple to testify that, “she had freedom from the day she ceased to be a prisoner of war. She rode buses, went shopping, went to movies.” The prosecutor even recounted how Patty while climbing a cliff “rangers” who assumed she was in trouble came to her aid. Bill Harris said, “She could have said anything, like, ‘I’m Patty Hearst, get me out of here.’ But she didn’t.” The jury was convinced and on March 1976 Patty Hearst was convicted of bank robbery and sentenced to seven years in prison. During the trial, she took the Fifth Amendment 42 times.
    Her sentence was later commuted on February 1979 by President Jimmy Carter by granting her executive clemency and in January 2001 President Clinton pardoned her. After she was released she married her former bodyguard Bernard Shaw who she has had two daughters with. She went on to find some success in acting and producing.

    Other Famous pictures

    Related Posts:

    Killer Man

    Behind the camera: CW4 Ruben Dominguez
    Where: 75th Ranger Regiment
    Photo Summary: Military poster
    Picture Taken: 1985
    This image is in the public domain because it was taken by a federal employee

    I’m not the killer man…

    This image although not world renowned in any sort of way is in fact iconic within a particular class. The United States Special Forces. Particularly the U.S. Army’s 75th Ranger Regiment. The 75th Ranger Regiment is now a special operations combat formation within the U.S. Army Special Operation Command (USASOC). The Ranger Regiment traces its lineage to three of six battalions raised in WWII, and to the 5307th Composite Unit (Provisional)—known as “Merrill’s Marauders,” and then redesignated as the 475th Infantry, then later as the 75th Infantry. The 61 day Ranger school/leadership course, located at Fort Benning Georgia, is notoriously difficult often boasting a 70-80% attrition rate. The course emphasizes leadership and small unit tactics.

    The Poster

    The Poster of “I’m not the Killer man…” was commissioned in 1985 by the then Regimental Commander, Colonel Joseph “Smoking Joe” Stringham. It was originally thought of as an incentive or bonus that a soldier would get upon joining the Ranger unit. Each poster would be signed by the Regimental Commander, the Deputy Commander and the Regimental Sergeant Major.
    Colonel Stringham then went to the Fort Benning TASC (Training and Audio Visual Support Center) office to place an order to have the poster printed. However, TASC, for whatever reason, told him that they couldn’t print the poster. Colonel Stringham then flew TDY (Temporary Duty) to Fort Bragg, North Carolina, and spoke to the 4th Psychological Operations (4th PSYOPS) mobile printing press who ended up printing 3000 copies of the poster for the Colonel.
    The posters remained on display within Ranger offices and in the barracks, with the original poster, drawn on butcher block paper, in the Regimental Ranger Headquarters until the next Regimental Commander, Colonel Taylor, took command. He thought the poster displayed a negative image of the U.S. Army Rangers and all Regimental Rangers were then required to take down the posters.

    The Poster’s Concept and Inception

    The “Killer Man” Poster as it has come to be called was designed and drawn by now retired CW4 Ruben Dominguez. Dominguez had spent four years in the United States Marine Corps in the infantry (0311) and as a small arms repair man (2111). He had left the USMC in 1984 and joined the Army principally because he wanted to be a paratrooper, and was picked up by the Ranger Regiment as an Infantryman (11B)/Draftsman due to his architectural background.
    According to his recount of the genesis of the “Killer Man” Poster: “It was a weekend and I was frustrated. Drawing being one of my past times, I commenced to take out my frustration on paper. I began drawing the Ranger in a Captain America stance and modified it to reflect the Ranger holding the Ranger Crest Shield. It was my concept of what a Ranger is…an individual that takes up more of the share than others do, i.e. the large ruck sack with all the tools a warrior lives by…..armed to the hilt. Instead of the M-16, he holds the M-60 Machinegun. Being an avid admirer of the Ghurkas of Nepal and their honorable history, I drew him holding a “Kukri” knife. And considering that I personally believe that the United States flag is by far the most beautiful flag on this earth, I expressed my patriotism by drawing the American flags behind the Ranger as he charges forward into battle.”
    While Dominguez was in his office sketchy the image out, Command Sergeant Major Cobb came in and made it clear that “That’s it! That’s what the old man wants!” He was referring to Colonel Stringham and his desire for a motivating and aggressive poster depicting his ideal Ranger Warrior.
    A brief discussion then ensued in which CSM Cobb decide the poster needed a slogan. The following words would be printed across the top and bottom of the poster, and would come to be something of a mantra in the Ranger community.
    “I’m not the Killer man, I’m the Killer man’s son, But I’ll do the Killing till the Killer man comes.”
    This was a direct quote from then President of the United States, Ronald Reagan.

    CW4 Dominguez

    As the Rangers Regimental Draftsman, Dominguez had been responsible for streamlining the Ranger scroll design to ensure uniformity across the Ranger Regiment and Ranger Battalions. All uniformity guidelines i.e. diagrams of how the Ranger beret should be worn etc, were all his responsibility. In 1987 Dominguez left the Ranger Regiment and the Infantry and joined Counterintelligence. He retired in 2010 and currently works as a civilian/military contractor.

    Pictures from other Wars

    Related Posts: