Well, National Geographic rationalised it this way, “It created a more dramatic image.”
They cut two images in half back in 2003 or so, and stuck the halves together.
In one original image, a soldier had his weapon slightly up, and was waving someone off.
In the other original image, one man was standing up from the ground.
In the altered image, the soldier was waving the guy off while pointing a weapon at him.
That was the L.A. Times. maybe they bought the picture from NG, but it ran on their front page. Every time I write a letter to the editor I ask whatever happened to that photographer.