The Unseen Is Made Visible

Ludtke, Melissa
June 2004
Nieman Reports;Summer2004, Vol. 58 Issue 2, p62
This article reports on the ban of photographs of coffins which was reinforced by U.S. President George W. Bush administration as it prepared for war in Iraq. According to The Washington Post, in March 2003 the Pentagon sent a directive to U.S. military bases that read: There will be no arrival ceremonies for, or media coverage of, deceased military personnel returning to or departing from Ramstein (Germany) Air Base or Dover (Delaware) Air Force Base, to include interim stops. This directive reinforced a U.S. military policy, dating from the last few months of U.S. President Bill Clinton's administration, that had gone unheeded during the Afghanistan conflict. Restrictions on press coverage were put into place at Dover in 1991, at the time of the Persian Gulf War, though on some occasions this last leg of the journey home has been shown. Publication of these images--along with the employee firing and reaffirmed Pentagon ban on the release of photos that followed--led much discussion among Webloggers, journalists, commentators, family members of the war dead, military and First Amendment advocates. They shared opinions about the possible political reasons for the government's enforcement of this policy and its legality, which was upheld by a U.S. Court of Appeals in a 1996 civil liberties case.


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