- The Washington Times - Wednesday, April 18, 2001

When a SWAT team of armed federal agents launched a predawn raid to seize Elian Gonzalez from relatives in Miami last year, they did so in part to avoid coverage of their military-style tactics. There werent supposed to be any pictures of agents decked out in camouflage pointing assault weapons at a terrified Elian or at his relatives.
What the agents hadnt planned for was Associated Press photographer Alan Diaz. This week the Pulitzer Board awarded Mr. Diaz its top award for breaking news photography. He alone got the photo, the one federal agents hoped the public would never see, and made it available to newspapers around the world. Many of the newspapers played the picture on the front page, where it became a huge embarrassment to those who conducted the raid and to the Clinton administration in general.
Mr. Diazs work involved much more than simply snapping a picture. AP had hired Mr. Diaz as a freelancer to take pictures of Elian after the boy was pulled from the sea following a doomed attempt by his mother to flee Cuba.
His rescuers brought him to relatives in Miami. There, Mr. Diaz got to know the relatives, Elian and the house in which they stayed. With months to prepare, he was ready when he heard the raid begin. At the sound of running footsteps, he jumped a fence into the relatives yard and went into the house. The only "weapon" he had was his camera, but that was all he needed.
The Clinton administration did its best to downplay the photo. The agent wasnt really pointing his gun at Elian, it said. The agent didnt actually have his finger on the trigger, and so on, all pointless distinctions to judge from the picture. Congratulations to Mr. Diaz for a prize well-earned and deserved.

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