- By Andrew SwiftAndrew Swift is an editorial researcher at Foreign Policy.
The FBI is in hot water after using a Spanish parliamentarian’s picture to create a ‘What would Osama Bin Laden look like now?’ image. The photo, released last week, took parts of United Left party lawmaker Gaspar Llamazares’ face and combined them with an older photo of bin Laden, to create the digital image — and Mr. Llamazares is not amused.
"Apologies are not enough," he told a news conference at Spain’s parliament after the U.S. ambassador issued an apology Monday. "I want a thorough investigation into this disgraceful case, which not only causes concern but also worry and indignation over the behavior of the FBI."
The FBI claimed the new bin Laden image was created with "cutting edge" technology. However, after the comparison was made, the Bureau admitted that it had taken a photo of Llamazares’ 2004 campaign poster off Google Images. FBI Spokesman Ken Hoffman told the Spanish newspaper El Mundo, "The forensic artist was unable to find suitable features among the reference photographs and obtained those features, in part, from a photograph he found on the internet." Sometimes, the warnings about taking things off the internet come embarrassingly true.
As an isolated incident, it’s odd enough, but this is now the third bizarre diplomatic row between Spain and the United States in the last few years.
This isn’t the first photo related row between the two countries. Last year, a photo of Spanish Prime Minister Jose Zapatero, wife, and two daughters caused uproar in Spain after being released by the State Department. The picture, taken with Barack and Michelle Obama in New York, was the first public image of the two daughters (Zapatero has been adamant of protecting their privacy) ever shown.