"Beat the Press," after dealing with the demise of The Rocky Mountain Spotted Rag talked about press access at Dover AFB, Delaware, for returning Service Members who have died overseas. Their title, "The Pentagon relaxes its ban on photographing flag-draped coffins."
But, the relaxation is not very large. Quoting the Pentagon News Release:
The Defense Department will allow the news media to photograph the flag-draped caskets of fallen U.S. troops returning home if their families agree, Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates said today.Ms Emily Rooney claims to be "hard line" on this. She is. And, she is wrong.
This is actually a relatively new situation. In the past we have buried our dead in the land where they died. There are a number of Cemeteries in Europe. The Normandy American Cemetery and Memorial, in France, covers 172.5 acres and contains the graves of 9,387 of our military dead, plus a monument with the names of 1,557 Missing in Action, some of whom have subsequently been recovered. We even have a Cemetery in Mexico City, for the dead from the Mexican War, including 750 who were not otherwise identified.
If we are to continue to return the bodies of those who died overseas--and we will continue--the families deserve their space during this traumatic period in their lives. The Media is not invited to accompany the notifying officer during the initial notification. The return of the coffins falls within that same period of grief. If the family wishes to allow a press intrusion, then fine, allow it. If they don't, then the press should look away and find their story elsewhere--and the information is plainly available.
The information on deaths (combat and other) is available from the Pentagon every time a Service Member is killed, or a Service Member previously Missing in Action (MIA) is returned to his or her loved ones. If the press needs to know, they can go to the Pentagon website and sign up for the death notices. I did. Why can't others?
The only "Beat the Press" panel member to support the ban, Mr Joe Sciacca, talked about the Press using this for political purposes. I think Mr Sciacca is correct. It comes down to media responsibility. I have my doubts about that working in the case of our fallen.
The families deserve consideration.
Regards -- Cliff