Obama reviewing ban on photos of coffins

Just_A_Mom

10-Year Member
Joined
Jul 9, 2006
Messages
4,826
http://www.armytimes.com/news/2009/02/ap_obama_coffins_020909/

President Barack Obama said Monday he is considering whether to overturn a Pentagon policy that bans the media from taking pictures of the flag-draped coffins of U.S. troops returning from the battlefield.
A leading military families group says the policy, enforced without exception during the administration of former President George W. Bush, should let survivors of the dead decide whether photographers can record their return.
At his first prime-time news conference as president, Obama said his administration is reviewing the policy with Defense Department officials. He noted that he was informed Monday that four U.S. soldiers were killed in Iraq, making the question timely.
“Obviously, our thoughts and prayers go out to the families,” Obama said.
“You know, people have asked me, ‘When did it hit you that you are now president?”’ he said. “And what I told them was the most sobering moment is signing letters to the families of our fallen heroes. It reminds you of the responsibilities that you carry in this office and the consequences of the decisions that you make.”
However, Obama said no decision has yet been made.
“I don’t want to give you an answer now before I’ve evaluated that review and understand all the implications involved,” he said.
The Pentagon ban on allowing news photographers into Dover Air Force Base in Delaware and other military facilities where military remains are returned to the United States has been in place since the administration of former President George H.W. Bush. However, some exceptions to the policy were made, allowing the media to photograph coffins in some limited cases, until the administration of President George W. Bush and the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.
Last month, Pentagon spokesman Lt. Col. Les’ Melnyk said the ban would remain in place until the White House ordered otherwise.
“We don’t want families to feel pressure that they have to be at Dover because the media is covering it,” Melnyk said in a January interview. “That’s just adding stress on families.”
John Ellsworth, president of Military Families United who lost a son in Iraq in 2004, said the survivors should be able to decide whether the coffins should be photographed.
“We don’t necessarily think it should be banned. I think they could modify it to give a little latitude to the families,” Ellsworth said several weeks ago. “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,” he said. “But at the same time, I don’t know that we can allow the press to overstep the bounds of good taste in some of these instances.”
A University of Delaware professor who unsuccessfully sued to force the government to release pictures of flag-draped coffins returning home said taxpayers should see the cost of war.
“Of course we respect the families, but none of these caskets is identified in any way and there’s no invasion of privacy in the first place,” said Ralph Begleiter, a professor at the University of Delaware and a former world affairs correspondent for CNN.
The fallen troops “died for all of us — they died for the nation, they died for the cause,” Begleiter said in a January interview. “It’s a right for all Americans to pay their respects for those who made the sacrifice. It is not a right held exclusively for the families themselves.”
 

Christcorp

10-Year Member
Joined
May 21, 2008
Messages
5,393
Lifting the ban would be a big mistake. There's no way, if there are multiple remains returning, that getting approval from every family will always be possible. That was one of the reasons for the ban. To maintain respect and honor for our fallen soldiers and not let the media; who care absolutely NOTHING for the fallen military members or their family; exploit and sensationalize the moment. By lifting the ban, the media will exploit the fallen. And the family that didn't want it photographed will have no choice because there will be ways around it. The media has no honor. This is the same group of people who run around football fields, baseball fields, military events, etc... snapping pictures, running video, pushing microphones, etc... ALL WHILE THE NATIONAL ANTHEM IS BEING PLAYED.

But then again, it's been 3 weeks and I've already seen president obama make a lot of bad decisions already. Why stop now.
 

averx615

10-Year Member
5-Year Member
Joined
Nov 29, 2008
Messages
228
Lifting the ban would be a big mistake. There's no way, if there are multiple remains returning, that getting approval from every family will always be possible. That was one of the reasons for the ban. To maintain respect and honor for our fallen soldiers and not let the media; who care absolutely NOTHING for the fallen military members or their family; exploit and sensationalize the moment. By lifting the ban, the media will exploit the fallen. And the family that didn't want it photographed will have no choice because there will be ways around it. The media has no honor. This is the same group of people who run around football fields, baseball fields, military events, etc... snapping pictures, running video, pushing microphones, etc... ALL WHILE THE NATIONAL ANTHEM IS BEING PLAYED.

But then again, it's been 3 weeks and I've already seen president obama make a lot of bad decisions already. Why stop now.

I totally agree with you about the media and other events. They show no respect for what the National Anthem and the Flag actually stand for. When i an at my sports events, i makes me angry when i see my coaches, let alone my teammates, eating and talking rather that paying respect that is due to all who fell defending that Flag. If you don't support the conflict, that is fine, but if you don't support the men and women fighting, u have some serious issues do deal with with God.

I am kinda hard core about this topic. lol
 

2012Cadet

10-Year Member
5-Year Member
Joined
Apr 7, 2008
Messages
608
This makes me sick...fallen heroes funerals are as the Army.com blog well stated, a "solemn and sacred event that does not need to become a media circus" with reporters taking photos to promote their own stinking agendas.

People voted for "change"..well...they're gonna get it (and cry in sorrow for their mistake in the process).
 

ds52262

10-Year Member
Joined
Dec 23, 2006
Messages
256
Shamefull but I expect nothing more. Lack of service = Lack of understanding.

The media are Jakals and Vultures looking only to advance their own agenda and rarely have any understanding of the sacrafices made by the same soldier whose flag draped coffin they cannot wait to exploit.

As for the Commander in Chief you cannot expect more. It wont be long until he has Captains and Lt's assigned to the white house serving drinks and passing Houre Dourves. His liberal friends whispering don't they look just like "Toy Soldiers". God Help Us All!!!
 

Christcorp

10-Year Member
Joined
May 21, 2008
Messages
5,393
I had contemplated retiring a year later, just so I could have GW Bush or whomever as my CIC instead of Clinton. Now, I can honestly say that Clinton looks very good compared to what we have to look forward to. I've always be the eternal optimist. People always comment about me finding the good in everything. But I have to say that I am truly worried and scared about the next few years. Economically and militarily. Oh well. later.... mike....
 

oldgrad

Banned
Joined
Jan 28, 2009
Messages
137
But I have to say that I am truly worried and scared about the next few years. Economically and militarily. Oh well. later.... mike....

ds52262 said:
As for the Commander in Chief you cannot expect more. It wont be long until he has Captains and Lt's assigned to the white house serving drinks and passing Houre Dourves. His liberal friends whispering don't they look just like "Toy Soldiers". God Help Us All!!!

The purpose of this forum is to assist our outstanding young men and women in their quest to become military officers and serve their country. Wild ridiculous speculations and unfounded fears have absolutely no place in this process.
 

averx615

10-Year Member
5-Year Member
Joined
Nov 29, 2008
Messages
228
this is an off topic forun area. not part of the SA section. this is not a big deal, just ppl venting a little bit
 

oldgrad

Banned
Joined
Jan 28, 2009
Messages
137
Actually it is in the "Academy/Military News" section and it is about the respect due returning slain servicemen, not about O-6s serving crumpets in the White House.
 

Pima

10-Year Member
Joined
Nov 28, 2007
Messages
13,977
On topic, any death be it military or civilian is private. We give old movie stars more privacy than a family mounring a military member. The WAPO every quarter posts the pics, names and how they died on a Sunday (just this past weekend as a matter of fact).

I would be very disappointed in this being lifted, people who really want to see it, than your local news always announces the death, drive out to the burial site. Otherwise it is nothing else than trying to inflame people

Off topic...CC you made me laugh...when Bullet retired it was surreal, his commissiong folder has Bush 41 and his retirement has Bush 43. I had joked with DS that it would be wierd if Hillary won and he spent 20 yrs and Chelsea was President or if McCain won and he had Jack.

As far as the drinks and hor's deuvres...you all know what they call a MAJOR at the Pentagon...Coffee Pogey or SNACKO
 

TacticalNuke

Administrator
Joined
Jun 8, 2006
Messages
3,237
Please keep any discussion of this issue relevant to the topic of the thread. The purpose of this thread should be to discuss the merits, or lack thereof, of the ban, not to attack the President.

Thank you.

-TN
 

Just_A_Mom

10-Year Member
Joined
Jul 9, 2006
Messages
4,826
Is anyone (besides me) old enough to remember the LBJ and Nixon years? Dover was a part of the evening news and there were lots and lots of coffins that were televised.

Did this have an impact on you? Why and how?
 

LineInTheSand

USCGA 2006
10-Year Member
Joined
Nov 25, 2007
Messages
9,457
JAM, are you asking "what impact did this have on you" to the family members of the lost Soldiers, Sailors, Airmen, Marines and Coast Guardsmen, or are you directing that question at the general population that watches Jerry Springer, Girls Gone Wild, and A Shot Of Love?

In fact, I would ask you to put yourself in the shoes of the people waiting for the remains at home. With a family members in the military, one can never be sure how their children will return home from war.

I do not think he will allow it to happen, I think President Obama was just fielding the question. I also think that is some of the feedback Sec. Gates will give him.
 

Just_A_Mom

10-Year Member
Joined
Jul 9, 2006
Messages
4,826
I am asking what imact it had on anyone who can remember watching this as a child or adult.
You obviously are not old enough to remember the Vietnam war or how it was broadcast on TV, the role the media played and the effect it had on the average American. Nor are you old enough to remembe that back then there was no Jerry Springer, Girls Gone Wild or A Shot of Love.

If anyone on this forum had a family member who was lost in Vietnam - and can remember seeing coffins on the news - yes, I would like to hear what affect it had on them personally. If they would like to share.
 

Christcorp

10-Year Member
Joined
May 21, 2008
Messages
5,393
I definitely remember. Matter of fact, I entered the military only a couple of years after the final pullout of vietnam. Trying to say how I felt seeing coffins on television is not practical. Our media today is not the same media of the 35-40 years ago. If the media was respectful, I'd have no problem with it. But our news media is not respectful. They are sensationalists. At the same time that you speak of, I remember going to Shea Stadium to watch the Mets play baseball. When the national anthem was played, the sports reporters, cameramen, players, etc... EVERYONE stood there with respect. They didn't walk out on the field taking pictures of the person doing the singing.

So, bring back a news media that found the balance between news and respect and I'll have no problem. The worst thing that happened to our military and country was the "Embedded Reporters" that were allowed in the more recent engagements. One reason I believe that the earlier gulf war was much more successful was because we didn't have the news media over our shoulder ever 5 feet. They were allowed in, but were controlled. JAM, I'm not sure how much experience you have with the media and the military, but they've lost their integrity. I believe that until they can prove they have respect and honor again for the military, that they don't need access to our fallen men and women. There were a lot of Anti-War; Anti-Vietnam in the 60's-70's; even among journalists. But generally speaking, they had respect for our service members. That is no longer the case.
 

Just_A_Mom

10-Year Member
Joined
Jul 9, 2006
Messages
4,826
Gates Open to Lifting Ban on Casket Photos

http://www.armytimes.com/news/2009/02/military_photos_wardead_021009w/

The controversial policy that bans media coverage of flag-draped caskets arriving from the war theater to Dover Air Force Base, Del., is once again being reviewed with an eye toward reversal, Defense Secretary Robert Gates said Tuesday.
“If the needs of the families can be met, and the privacy concerns can be addressed, the more honor we can accord these fallen heroes, the better,” Gates said at a Pentagon news conference. “I’m ... pretty open to, to whatever the results of this review may be.”
Gates said he ordered the review after President Barack Obama said Monday night during a nationally broadcast news conference that the White House is “in the process of reviewing those policies.”
Gates said he has put a “fairly short deadline on that effort,” but was not more specific.
Gates, a Bush administration holdover who has served in the Pentagon’s top job since December 2006, said he looked into changing the policy a little over a year ago.
He said the answer he received, partly the result of talks with family members of fallen troops, was that if reporters and photographers were allowed to view the return of flag-draped caskets at Dover, “many of the families would feel compelled to be there for those ceremonies for their fallen hero.”
“For these families, this would delay the return of the remains home,” he said. “For others, it would be a financial hardship to get to Dover. And there were some privacy concerns.”
But, Gates added, “I think that looking at it again makes all kinds of sense.”
Media coverage of military remains arriving at ports of entry was once permitted but came to a halt by Pentagon decree during the 1991 Gulf War, on Feb. 2, 1991.
Exceptions have been made over the years, such as when the media photographed a ceremony at Andrews Air Force Base, Md., for Americans killed in the 1998 embassy bombings in Kenya and Tanzania. In October 2000, the Pentagon distributed photos of caskets arriving at Dover that contained the remains of sailors killed in the bombing of the USS Cole.
In 2004, a “Sense of Congress” resolution included in the 2005 budget stated that the Pentagon policy “appropriately protects the privacy of the families and friends of the deceased.”
Rep. Walter Jones, R-N.C., has taken the opposite view — that photos of returning caskets both honor the returning service member and remind the public that the nation is at war.
In January, Jones introduced the “Fallen Hero Commemoration Act,” legislation that would force the Pentagon to grant the media access when military remains arrive at U.S. military installations.
 

Pima

10-Year Member
Joined
Nov 28, 2007
Messages
13,977
I agree tpg


I remember the video in black and white. I also never thought I would be a military wife. However, during that time we buried several friends...the last 2 were from the strike eagle community only 5 yrs ago. One was buried at Arlington with his young children standing by their grave.

These people are mourning, let them do so...more people die in car accidents or murders every yr...if the media wants to show caskets...why don't they start there. When did a mourning family lose their right to do so privately for no actual national purpose? It is sensationalism at its best

I remember a poem that sums this up the best
It is the soldier, not the reporter,
who has given us freedom of the press.

It is the soldier, not the poet,
who has given us freedom of speech.

It is the soldier, not the campus organizer,
who has given us the freedom to demonstrate.

It is the soldier, not the lawyer,
who has given us the right to a fair trial.

It is the soldier,
who salutes the flag,
who serves under the flag,
and whose coffin is draped by the flag,
who allows the protester to burn the flag.

By Father Dennis Edward O'Brien, USMC

ANybody who has watched a missing man formation or had had their body jolt from a 21 gun salute will tell you that it is a private time... give them that courtesy
 

LineInTheSand

USCGA 2006
10-Year Member
Joined
Nov 25, 2007
Messages
9,457
Here's a question for you then JAM. You child goes to USMA, and will some day be in the "real Army". If your kid goes off to war and was killed (and we all pray that would never happen), how would you feel if his/her returning body was not greeted by grieving relatives, but the flash of cameras and "sensationalize" reporters, who use those caskets as nothing more than a means to an end and "body counts". Now, you, the loved one back home, has to wade through that to see your child's flag draped casket.

How would that make you feel? If you believe for a second that the reporter who posed this question to President Obama had the best interest of the service members in mind...you're crazy.
 

oldgrad

Banned
Joined
Jan 28, 2009
Messages
137
I kinda like this guy's perspective:

"Rep. Walter Jones, R-N.C., has taken the opposite view — that photos of returning caskets both honor the returning service member and remind the public that the nation is at war.
In January, Jones introduced the “Fallen Hero Commemoration Act,” legislation that would force the Pentagon to grant the media access when military remains arrive at U.S. military installations."

And to jump in and answer LITS question to JAM, I think TV coverage would be the last of my concerns at the time. Again, I feel Congressman Jones has a point. It could be looked on as the nation paying it's respects to a fallen comrade.
 

RaptorDad2013

10-Year Member
5-Year Member
Joined
Apr 13, 2007
Messages
141
JAM: I remember. My commission was signed by Nixon. And, while certainly pictures of coffins contributed to the effect, it was a small part of the nightly news that showed the whole aspect of war unlike ever shown previously. And, that nightly news was contemporary, recent, and "real" (seemingly), not history.
I'm not sure the reporters were so overtly anti-war, but they were filing footage (film mostly) that was cut and edited by other people who weren't there, who were affected by (and certainly helped to create) the national mood of the country, who then made comments on it from news rooms in New York, far removed from the war. And, it was everyday. It was the larger, more comprehensive and pervasive coverage of the carnage of war, not just the return home of coffins, that I think was characteristic of that time.
The issue today is different. I think President Bush, in the current policy, was thinking of the voyeur aspect of the public intruding on what should be (imo) private time. I also think the present issue of "the public right to know" is being "used" to show visually an event that is perceived differently when presented in print ("Four Soldiers Die from Roadside Bomb") then when presented on the evening news as four flag-draped coffins carried down the ramp of a C-17 at Dover. While that might bring tears to my eyes, there are those who want it to bring outrage in others' hearts.
 
Top