Photo from Tillerson meeting appears to be mysteriously altered

Photo-ops may seem like a slog, though time flew right out the window in one seemingly altered picture from Secretary of State Rex Tillerson’s visit to Afghanistan.

Tillerson met with Afghan President Ashraf Ghani on Monday, with both parties praising their meeting to discuss the U.S. strategy to fight extremists.

But while the verbal accounts from the two sides were similar, a missing clock in an official picture from the Afghanis prompted questions about whether the photo had been edited for some reason.

The lack of the military-style clock in the photo put out by Ghani’s office was likely because the meeting did not take place in Kabul, as the U.S. originally said it did.

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Photo of Tillerson meeting in Afghanistan may be mysteriously altered
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Photo of Tillerson meeting in Afghanistan may be mysteriously altered
A photo put out by the Afghanistan president's office appears to have been altered to remove a military clock. (OFFICE OF THE PRESIDENT OF AFGHANISTAN)
 
The photo of the meeting put out by the U.S. Embassy in Kabul showed the clock at Bagram Airfield. (US EMBASSY KABUL)
US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson speaks during his visit at Bagram Air Field in Afghanistan on October 23, 2017. Tillerson paid a surprise visit to Afghanistan on October 23 to discuss Washington's new strategy with President Ashraf Ghani, the US embassy said. Tillerson reiterated the US commitment to working with the Kabul government and regional partners 'to achieve peace in Afghanistan and deny safe havens to terrorists who threaten that goal', said a statement posted on Twitter. / AFP PHOTO / POOL / Alex Brandon (Photo credit should read ALEX BRANDON/AFP/Getty Images)
The boot of General John Nicholson (L) is seen next to the shoe of US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson at Bagram Air Field in Afghanistan on October 23, 2017. Tillerson paid a surprise visit to Afghanistan on October 23 to discuss Washington's new strategy with President Ashraf Ghani, the US embassy said. Tillerson reiterated the US commitment to working with the Kabul government and regional partners 'to achieve peace in Afghanistan and deny safe havens to terrorists who threaten that goal', said a statement posted on Twitter. / AFP PHOTO / POOL / Alex BRANDON (Photo credit should read ALEX BRANDON/AFP/Getty Images)
US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson greets Afghan Chief of Staff Salam Rahimi (2R) before meeting with Afghan President Ashraf Ghani at Bagram Air Field in Afghanistan on October 23, 2017. Tillerson paid a surprise visit to Afghanistan on October 23 to discuss Washington's new strategy with President Ashraf Ghani, the US embassy said. Tillerson reiterated the US commitment to working with the Kabul government and regional partners 'to achieve peace in Afghanistan and deny safe havens to terrorists who threaten that goal', said a statement posted on Twitter. / AFP PHOTO / POOL / Alex BRANDON (Photo credit should read ALEX BRANDON/AFP/Getty Images)
US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson speaks next to General John Nicholson (L) and Special Charge d'Affaires Hugo Llorens (R) at Bagram Air Field in Afghanistan on October 23, 2017. Tillerson paid a surprise visit to Afghanistan on October 23 to discuss Washington's new strategy with President Ashraf Ghani, the US embassy said. Tillerson reiterated the US commitment to working with the Kabul government and regional partners 'to achieve peace in Afghanistan and deny safe havens to terrorists who threaten that goal', said a statement posted on Twitter. / AFP PHOTO / POOL / Alex BRANDON (Photo credit should read ALEX BRANDON/AFP/Getty Images)
US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson (C) walks to board a C-17 aircraft at Al-Udeid Air Base in Qatar en route to Bagram Air Base in Afghanistan on October 23, 2017. Tillerson paid a surprise visit to Afghanistan on October 23 to discuss Washington's new strategy with President Ashraf Ghani, the US embassy said. Tillerson reiterated the US commitment to working with the Kabul government and regional partners 'to achieve peace in Afghanistan and deny safe havens to terrorists who threaten that goal', said a statement posted on Twitter. / AFP PHOTO / POOL / Alex BRANDON (Photo credit should read ALEX BRANDON/AFP/Getty Images)
US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson steps off the plane as he arrives to Al-Udeid Air Base in Qatar after his visit to Bagram Air Base in Afghanistan on October 23, 2017. Tillerson paid a surprise visit to Afghanistan on October 23 to discuss Washington's new strategy with President Ashraf Ghani, the US embassy said. Tillerson reiterated the US commitment to working with the Kabul government and regional partners 'to achieve peace in Afghanistan and deny safe havens to terrorists who threaten that goal', said a statement posted on Twitter. / AFP PHOTO / POOL / Alex BRANDON (Photo credit should read ALEX BRANDON/AFP/Getty Images)
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State Department officials later corrected the original release it put out on Monday, admitting that it took place at the military base Bagram Airfield rather than the Afghan capital.

Online posts about the meeting from the State Department and its embassy in Afghanistan used photos that did not include the perplexing portion.

Dartmouth College computer science professor Hany Farid told the New York Times, who first reported on the discrepancy, that the use of some program such as Photoshop was visible even without the U.S. photo for comparison.

He noted that the cord going to the clock and an accompanying fire alarm was not very well concealed in the edited photo.

U.S. and Afghan officials did not immediately say why they wanted to tell the world that the meeting was in Kabul, rather than at Bagram.

Last month Defense Secretary James Mattis was the target of a Taliban-claimed rocket attack at the Kabul airport where several civilians were reported wounded.

Tillerson is currently in the middle of a week-long trip to the Middle East and South Asia, which has included stops in Saudi Arabia and an unannounced trip to Iraq.

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