Wow! It would seem that our original story is taking off in more directions than we'd ever imagined! For starting with a mere, "Hezbullah has been known for counterfeiting," and seeing the context of the discussion evolve into such a detailed analysis of the photographic evidence is awe-inspiring, to say the least. Once again, this proves to me that investigative journalism isn't dead:âit lives on in cyberspace, even if it's been dead in the mainstream media for a decade.
With that in mind, I'd like to summarize, if I may, the discoveries of some of my fellow bloggers.
We started with the analysis of the "missing" security thread. It would seem that, a bill without a security thread would be most definitely genuine, and our commenter MechEng was quick to spot that a silhouetted picture of a $100 bill didn't appear to contain a security thread. Upon further review, though, we determined that the thread would most likely be in a position that would be obscured by the hand in the photograph, and therefore, it couldn't be conclusively demonstrated via that particular photograph that the bill was counterfeit.
Next, another astute commentator noticed that the seal behind the denomination seemed to shift positions between multiple bills, which seemed to be a sure-fire sign of counterfeiting. Unfortunately, after a few bloggers who are apparently wealthier than myself (People actually carry that much money around?!) examined their personal hoardes, it was discovered that this was a normal feature in the currency. A cursory look at PBS' Secrets of Making Money article confirms this.
Yet another commenter has indicated that bills, when placed in stacks, should show some separation at the edges, as the currency is printed on more of a cloth material, than on thread. This is still under investigation.
So we're left back at square one. What we have successfully shown is a very fine-tuned, cooperative process for investigating possible instances of fraud, the very spirit of investigative journalism that inspired many honorable reporters for generations. This spirit is alive and well, whether or not the media wishes to leverage it against an position which goes against their very beliefs. Regardless of the press, the blogosphere will continue to ask the questions that should have been asked!
My hat remains off to all of the bloggers out there who are greater than myself. As a salute to them, here is a complete list of everyone who is still investigating this story:
Allahpundit and Sticky Notes have done a fantastic job analyzing every aspect of the bills in the photograph: Treasury seals, Signatures of the Treasurer, Crispness and expected age of the bills in question. Sticky Notes is waiting to hear from Yoni the Blogger on whether or not he knows anything about Hezbullah's counterfeiting operations. As am I.
Ace of Spades asks why bills with a previous Treasurer's signature on it would look so new, but notes that some governments are known for stockpiling United States currency.
Riehl World View lists some of the crimes Hezbullah is accused of, noting that counterfeiting is not out of their reach.
UPDATE 23-AUG-2006 21:51 EST: Bad Example has done a thorough debunking of all of the theories floating around so far. Which, of course, is a good thing and a bad thing. Excellent work, and a very brilliant analysis!
UPDATE 24-AUG-2006 14:41 EST: It would appear that the British Broadcasting Corporation has been in touch with someone involved in the "Cash-bollah" scandal. Check out this chat transcriptâin which we discover a gentleman, Ahmed Hassan Ahmed (which appears to be a fairly common name in the area, according to Google), who has been assigned the task of handing out money:
Ahmed Hassan Ahmed: Today I was responsible for paying compensation for people whose houses were totally destroyed by Israeli bombing. This money is from Sayed Hassan (Nasrallah) and Hezbollah.
Each family got $10,000 in cash which is for one year's rent and furniture. It was my job to vouch for the people who came and said they lived in Khiyam and I was asked by Hezbollah to do this. Three mukhtars were working flat out at the municipality and there were three others going round with Hezbollah engineers assessing the damage to each house.
In all, we paid about 140 families their compensation. My job is to prevent corruptionâand there is another Hezbollah committee to double check whether people are eligible or not.