Time to honor our fallen

After the subject came up at President Obama’s press conference Monday, Defense Secretary Robert Gates said the next day he was ordering a review of a Pentagon policy banning the media from taking photos of the flag-draped coffins of our military casualties as they arrive back in the States.

Gates should lift the ban.

It was imposed at the outset of the first Gulf War when it was anticipated that the casualties would be much higher than they were. In the relatively peaceful times that followed, the ban was occasionally waived. But President George W. Bush made the ban absolute.

In 2004, an American cargo worker photographed flag-draped coffins being loaded on a military transport in Kuwait. The photo was not at all disrespectful, and, in fact, rather moving. But she was fired from her job with a U.S. contractor, who, for good measure, fired her husband, too.

Whatever the Bush administration’s other motives for the ban, it was, like leaving Iraq and Afghanistan out of the federal budget, part of a pattern of obscuring those wars’ true costs. And it also fit that administration’s penchant for avoiding public scrutiny of its actions.

The military receives the coffins at Dover Air Force Base in Delaware and other facilities with decorum and ritual. There’s no reason these ceremonies can’t be photographed under mutually-agreed-upon rules of access.

The identity of the remains in the coffin is not revealed. Once the coffin reaches its destination, how much public attention is paid should be up to the family.

John Ellsworth, president of Military Families United, told the Associated Press, "Some people want to celebrate the lives of their fallen, and share their fallen hero with the American people, while others want to hold them a little closer to the vest and keep it private. We should respect that. It shouldn’t be up to the government to hide these images to the public."

Secretary Gates, we believe you have your policy.


  1. bryan mcclellan

    It’s too damn late to give the rightful honors and to pay deserved homage to over four thousand of our brave who paid the ultimate price.

    Will the numbers be corrected to include those injured in country but who succumbed to the reaper after being removed from the war zone, thus resulting in their numbers not being counted by Bush’s fuzzy math? Hell no! The truth must remain hidden lest the legacy of the most inept asshole to ever hold the office of POTUS be rightfully smeared.

    This is the most despicable of policies that the criminal Bush cabal instituted in the prosecution of these illegal wars and it proves that fear is their only useful tool and that they are the true masters of terror.

    Always hiding something, ever subverting everything that would gather the American people together and bring about the commonality that gives us our strength of numbers, that being recognition of the inevitable cost of war and clarity in our mission over seas.

    I’m sick and tired of being treated like a child by this government.We all should be insulted by this policy of subversion.

    Goddammit I can take it, just give it to me straight, don’t obfuscate the facts and give us that warmed over crap about protesters who might disrupt your plans to hide the lessons and pain of war.

    I returned from a war zone many years ago with protesters spitting vileness at every turn. You’re damn right it hurt but these were my countrymen and through it all they had the right to express their disdain and hatred for the policies being carried out by liars and profiteers in our shit tainted halls of government.

    We were not meant to win that war ( Viet Nam ) anymore than it is the mission to win the ongoing bloodbaths that we have fomented across the sea. The architects of these joyrides into hell as they appear to view them have driven the American people into two separate camps and have stripped us of our humanity.

    I and every American have a right to honor those fallen by paying homage with our presence upon the return of their remains. No words need be spoken, no acts of protest. We have other venues for those activities and will surely kick the asses of any who seek to disrupt the solemn proceedings.

    One of those venues being, if I ever get my wish, will be witnessing all the responsible chicken hawk sons of bitches being tried, convicted, and summarily hung by the neck until dead, with their remains cremated and cast into the deepest shit hole on earth.

    So, Mr Gates, where the hell were you when this insult was brought about and what makes you and your ilk think that this will appease those you have allowed to be so grievously injured?

    Here stands one who is not buying it and my number is legion. Don’t try to extend the olive branch now because it is dripping with the shit of the last administration of gutless self serving pigs.

    Apologies be dammed, it’s too late, and all the window dressing in the world cannot pull your despicable asses out of the fire. HACK!