Foreign Policy Blogs

Media Coverage Ban Lifted; War Casualties Photographed

iraq1Reuters reported this morning that President Obama has relaxed the Pentagon ban on media coverage of casualties of war returning to the US.  Now, instead of forbidding pictures of returning coffins, the family is allowed to choose whether or not to allow cameras upon arrival. 

The ban began in 1991 during the first Gulf War, although there were a few exceptions that included the return of the Navy seamen killed during the terrorist attack on the USS Cole in Yemen in 2000.  Former President Bush tightened the ban at the beginning of the Afghanistan and Iraq wars.  Reuters states that this sparked criticism that the US government was attempting to hide the “human cost of its military operations.” 

The first US casualty to be photographed was that of Staff Sgt. Phillip Myers, 30, of Hopewell, VA.  The coffin, draped in the American flag, arrived at Dover Air Force Base late on Sunday (April 5). 

Reuters quotes Pentagon statements that at least 4,262 US military members have died in Iraq since March of 2003; another 673 have died in Afghanistan since invading in 2001. 

I think this is a wonderful development.  The fact that the grieving relatives can choose the amount of press they feel comfortable with must be an empowering feeling for them.  I believe that while releasing pictures through the media can seem to cheapen the cost of war, it gives the American people a chance to mourn and pay tribute to those who have made the ultimate sacrifice for us.  And we owe them that.



Jennifer Bushaw

Jennifer Bushaw holds an MA from the University of Chicago in Middle Eastern Studies with an emphasis on policy. She focused her research, including her Thesis, on modern Iraq and the Iraq war. She also has a Bachelor's in History from the University of Michigan. Jennifer is currently working as an Investigative Research Associate for a security advisory and management firm in Chicago, Illinois.

Areas of Focus:
Iraq-US Policy; Security; Coalition Operations;