From "Curtains Ordered for Media Coverage of Returning Coffins" by Dana Milbank (Washington Post, 21 Oct 2003):
Since the end of the Vietnam War, presidents have worried that their military actions would lose support once the public glimpsed the remains of U.S. soldiers arriving at air bases in flag-draped caskets.
To this problem, the Bush administration has found a simple solution: It has ended the public dissemination of such images by banning news coverage and photography of dead soldiers' homecomings on all military bases.
In March, on the eve of the Iraq war, a directive arrived from the Pentagon at U.S. military bases. "There will be no arrival ceremonies for, or media coverage of, deceased military personnel returning to or departing from Ramstein [Germany] airbase or Dover [Del.] base, to include interim stops," the Defense Department said, referring to the major ports for the returning remains.
A Pentagon spokeswoman said the military-wide policy actually dates from about November 2000 -- the last days of the Clinton administration -- but it apparently went unheeded and unenforced, as images of caskets returning from the Afghanistan war appeared on television broadcasts and in newspapers until early this year . Though Dover Air Force Base, which has the military's largest mortuary, has had restrictions for 12 years, others "may not have been familiar with the policy," the spokeswoman said. This year, "we've really tried to enforce it."
Let's break this down. "Since the end of the Vietnam War.." That's a long time ago. This is not a Bush policy (I or II). This is a long-standing policy instituted out of common sense. (Notice also that this policy was instituted by the Clinton administration [and not enforced; now there's a surprise]). If we ran a ticker at the bottom of CNN Headline News every day, all day, showing the faces and bodies of all the people that died in car accidents, we'd all be walking inside a year.
Enforcement of directives is not a damnable offense. If people have an issue with this policy, strike at the policy and those who created it. What idiot believes that it's righteous or good or intelligent to purposefully undermine your own initiative. And while you're raging against the machine, could you please list a couple of positive reasons for getting rid of this policy?
It is naive to believe people aren't aware of the cost of war or are actively ignoring it. Here, on the West side of Michigan where I grew up, we have two holidays for those who served; they're called Memorial Day and Veterans Day. Every year (every year) the parade in my home town ends at the town cemetary where Boy Scouts place flags on the graves of every, single fallen solider. They block off a street (which is full of people) so they can stand there and listen to the roll call of names.
If the bloggers and journalists who are sensationalizing the release of these pictures honestly believe that they are informing people about something we are all ignorant of, I would invite those people to crawl back into their protective holes and pull the rock back over the opening. Stop using the fallen for your political bullshit; honor their memory by thanking those they left behind. Go stand at a Memorial Day ceremony and scream "Baby Killer" or call the President a "Nazi". Ignoramus. If you come to my hometown, I'll even guarentee that you'll leave with a souvenir.
UPDATE: It figures. With something this big, no one bothered to check their facts. Seems that 70+ photos being circulated as Iraqi war casualties are, in fact, pictures of honors given to the Columbia crew. Way to go, peacenicks; you managed to demean two honorable groups in one fell swoop. Link