Pentagon angered by photos from military mortuary

Discussion in 'Politics, Religion, Social Issues' started by Dippo, Apr 23, 2004.

  1. Dippo macrumors 65816

    Dippo

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    #1
    http://www.cnn.com/2004/US/South/04/22/mortuary.photos.ap/index.html

    http://www.foxnews.com/story/0,2933,117878,00.html

    All of the photos can be found at:
    www.thememoryhole.org

    Any thoughts or opinions?
     
  2. MongoTheGeek macrumors 68040

    MongoTheGeek

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    #2
    A few thoughts.

    1) Its a bit grim, crude and tasteless.
    2) Its a valid political point and a powerful statement.
    3) The only pictures I have seen have been tasteful flag draped anonymous coffins. Which since there is nothing to distinguish the people inside is good because it allows the dead to rest and the family of the dead to move on.

    Would I complain about the pictures, no.
    Would I take/use them, no.
     
  3. caveman_uk Guest

    caveman_uk

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    #3
    I fear the unwillingness of the Pentagon to allow these to be seen has a lot more to do with political expediency than the feelings of the relatives. After all pictures of smart bombs are a lot more appealing to voters than those of brave young sons coming home in a wooden box...
     
  4. PalmHarborTchr macrumors member

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    #4
    I think it is understandable for the WhiteHouse not to want the coffins
    exposed...in order to support this war without end we must not see
    the consequences of war. The defense of the Fatherland oops I mean
    Homeland...will be taken to ever nation that opposes Herr Bush, oops
    I mean President Bush. If we have an election in November, opps I mean
    in the election in November, we must show our support for this war
    by electing our leader to a life term oops I mean a new term.
     
  5. eyelikeart Moderator emeritus

    eyelikeart

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    #5
    I can't get to the site, but I would have to say that this is a bit disrespectful. Even I think they should leave this alone.
     
  6. Chip NoVaMac macrumors G3

    Chip NoVaMac

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    #6
    I disagree. There is a historical precedent for this in past wars. It serves two purposes IMO. First it is a final respect that Americans can pay to the fallen. Second it also shows the American people the true cost of war. Not sanitized images of bunker bombs, or troops working the towns of Iraq. Or made for TV images of the President landing on an aircraft carrier.

    Simply hearing mortality reports from Iraq means nothing to most. We are a visual nation, and this brings the message home.
     
  7. JesseJames macrumors 6502a

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    #7
    Funerals are for the living; not the dead.

    Get me?
     
  8. rueyeet macrumors 65816

    rueyeet

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    #8
    Is it more disrespectful to show the coffins of those who have given their lives for this war, or to allow their deaths to be invisible, swept under the rug and forgotten?

    America needs to know that our people are dying over there, and in what numbers. We need to know that our people are being injured, that 28,000 wounded have gone through Walter Reed alone, and that there are soldiers coming home without eyes or limbs. As unfortunate as it is to come back in a box, how awful must be the future of the 22-year old who has lost his sight and his arms, and has a young wife and three children?

    If we can't stomach these things, then we have no business supporting this war. Period. If the numbers and images of the dead and maimed shake our resolve, then we have no business saying we have any resolve. And that goes whether you agree or disagree with our being there in the first place, whether you think that makes these casualities of war heroes of our republic or martyrs of our politics.

    edit: 28,000 is the number my mom said she saw on CNN. I have since seen an estimate that says 4000 wounded American soldiers...so she may have gotten the decimal point off. Still, that only highlights how under-publicized the human costs of this war are (and that's not even going into how many Iraqis have died or been injured...)
     
  9. mactastic macrumors 68040

    mactastic

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    #9
    Isn't this in the wrong forum?

    I think it stunk that Clinton didn't allow coffin photos, and I think it stinks that Dubya won't either. If you're going to send them over into harms way, have the testicular fortitude to deal with the flak from them coming home in caskets. (Are they really wooden caskets?)
     
  10. takao macrumors 68040

    takao

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    #10
    i think it is disrespectful to actually hide (or try to hide them) the coffin photos...when there were an attack on german soldiers in afgahnistan(4 were killed with car bomb) a few months ago there was big media coverage of those coffines coming out of the plane with flags and of course military salut and politicians etc.

    perhaps there _too much_ of killed soldiers over there to show them all
     
  11. Dippo thread starter macrumors 65816

    Dippo

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    #11
    Well, it seems the site is down, maybe too much traffic.

    I went on it yesterday and they had some 500+ pictures of flag drapped coffins...
     
  12. topicolo macrumors 68000

    topicolo

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    #12
    The coffins should be shown.
    Keeping them from the public is showing contempt for the sacrifices these soldiers made for their country.
     
  13. rainman::|:| macrumors 603

    rainman::|:|

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    #13
    My thoughts exactly. There should be parades for these caskets, there should be people holding candles at the airport when the planes arrive, there should be some recognition that these people died following orders. The idea that we can't see the photos makes me think Bush knows that the cost is too great for us, and that the ends are not justifying the means here. But to step back from the political rhetoric, these people are more than just heroes (as are their surviving comrades), they're martyrs for US, and we deserve to know that and see the price that WE didn't have to pay. The pentagon has no right to "shelter" America from seeing this. Hell, we're lucky we don't have to see the coffins (or raw burials, or mass graves) of the "enemy casualties" (people we kill). The Iraqis have to count their losses, I think we do too.

    paul
     
  14. JamesDPS macrumors regular

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    #14
    I agree with topicolo and paulwhannel et al. These people need to be honored, and the country needs to have a slightly less sanitized picture of the outside world. I wouldn't be against showing actual combat, Saving Private Ryan style. As someone who has never faced such horror (and hopes never to have to) it is the only way to even glimpse what it means to go to war with another country. In other words, it will show people that there had better be a damn good reason to do this stuff.

    At the same time, showing the atrocities that Saddam is accused of committing would be equally important. Are American lives really that much more important than the lives of non-Americans? Everything must be given perspective...
     
  15. mactastic macrumors 68040

    mactastic

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    #15
    But lets not forget how hard Team Bush fought to justify their use of a coffin photo from the WTC wreckage in their political ads. I guess it's ok if it's just a firefighter and it's for the re-election of Bush, but not ok if it's a soldier and might not be beneficial to Bush?
     
  16. JesseJames macrumors 6502a

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    #16
    There seems to be basically two camps on this issue. People who think that the public display of the coffins would honor the troops and their sacrifice.
    Then there are the others - including the military stance - that families should be allowed the utmost privacy in their bereavement.
    The cynic would say that the military just doesn't want to show bodies in their alarming growing quantities to upset public opinion that yes- the war is going well.
    I guess it all depends on your sense of righteousness and desire for the whole truth.
     
  17. SPG macrumors 65816

    SPG

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    #17
    Several clarifications on this thread:
    1. There were no photos that identified the deceased soldiers.
    2. It was not pictures from a "mortuary" but from the ceremony of the arriving flag draped caskets.
    3. There was a photo run in the Seattle Times of flag draped caskets being loaded onto a plane in Kuwait taken by a worker there who was fired under orders by the Department of Defense after the photo ran.
    4. Bush Sr instituted the ban on photos and video of the returning dead after CNN cut to a split screen to cover the return ceremony while also showing a Bush press conference where he was smiling and answering questions. No fault of Bush Sr for not showing the respect due the moment as he had no idea CNN was showing both, but to the public watching it didn't look good.

    Opinion: The current Bush Administration tries very hard to keep up appearances, from disregarding the law (Valerie Plame) to lies (State of the Union, Iraq, uranium) to secrecy (Cheney's 2001 energy commision is still being fought over) to stonewalling the 9/11 commission.
    That they would hold on to a convenient rule of a previous administration is hardly surprising. Despite all the tough talk these guys are very afraid that the public will lose support for their dirty deeds if the truth comes to light, and that's what flag draped coffins are...the least offensive glimmer of the true cost of this war. Now look at the pictures and realize that this happens almost every day, with almost 700 coffins so far and no end in sight.
     
  18. topicolo macrumors 68000

    topicolo

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    #18
    The ban on showing coffins and some of the more graphic scenes in Iraq is an attempt to keep up public support for the war.

    TV networks outside of the US (including here in Canada) have aired documentaries that show the horrible consequences of the war on the Iraqi side. Seeing a real person getting shot in the head and oozing blood from his wound definitely does not make a person support the war. The fact of the matter is that none of the benefits that Bush promised at the beginning of the war has been realized--no WMDs have been found yet, there is actually decrease in stability in the region and there is still no true democracy. The soldiers have stopped Saddam's executions, but replaced them with "civilian casualties."

    Still, now that Saddam has been captured, the coalition must stay to ensure that Iraq regains stability before leaving to prevent the country from being infested with terrorist groups. Hopefully this will happen sooner, so that we can cut down the number of casualties.

    There, sorry about the rant.
     
  19. numediaman macrumors 6502a

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    #19
    You're in the political area now, you never have to apologize for rants. Right guys? (and girls).

    By the way SPG, I like that you have a list of blogs in your signature. If everyone (are you listening Sly?) listed the blogs they read every day, it would reveal a lot.
     
  20. Ugg macrumors 68000

    Ugg

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    #20
    I'm all for showing those pictures as long as all we see is a coffin draped with a flag and nothing identifying the individual within. These people deserve this at least. If we are not allowed to see even the most sanitized results of war and to mourn these men and women in our own way, then their deaths become just another number. My one enduring memory of Vietnam was the nightly news announcement of how many died that day. I hope we never see those numbers again but those who have died in gw's folly in Iraq should be acknowledged on a daily basis.

    One thing I agree with gw on, ok this is a first but don't expect it to happen again ;) is that the actual funerals should be private and personal. If gw were to attend it would make it into a media circus and expose the family and friends to a lot of unwelcome attention. I do believe though that he should in some way or another pay his respects to those who have died. He has totally and utterly failed to do this so far and should be ashamed.
     
  21. zimv20 macrumors 601

    zimv20

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    #21
    let's not kid ourselves -- the issue isn't really about respect, it's about political damage.

    actions have consequences. society needs to be aware of these consequences if it expects to be a responsible, accountable society.
     
  22. IJ Reilly macrumors P6

    IJ Reilly

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    #22
    From an interview with Bryan Whitman, Deputy Secretary of Defense this evening on the NewsHour:

    TERENCE SMITH: Bryan Whitman, what's the problem with those photographs? In other words, what way to in what way do they possibly invade the privacy of the families or anything else?

    BRYAN WHITMAN: Well, you know, we don't-- we should all be concerned that we don't do anything at a time of grief for one of our fallen comrades, that we make it-- that we make it more difficult for them.

    TERENCE SMITH: Do you think those pictures do?

    BRYAN WHITMAN: I think that those pictures have a potential to do that.

    TERENCE SMITH: How or why?

    BRYAN WHITMAN: Well, because it is an invasion into their privacy as they have received word of a missing or a killed loved one. I think, you know, we should all take a look at this, perhaps in the shoes of the mother or the father who has lost a son or daughter or a husband who has lost a wife or a wife who has lost a husband.

    Our service members don't ask much of us. They ask to be well trained. They asked to be well equipped and they ask to be well led. And if something should happen to them, they ask that we take care of our families. And this policy is designed to take care of their families.

    TERENCE SMITH: Is-- I have to ask you this. Is the policy also designed to soften the impact of the casualties in the war?

    BRYAN WHITMAN: No, I think that's an unfair argument. I guess I'll tell you why. I mean this conflict we put some 600 reporters out on the battlefield at the commencement of combat operations. Every time we have a casualty as a result of combat action, every time we have somebody that's been killed, we put out a news release on that. The command puts out a release on that and then we, in the Defense Department, we follow that up with a release that gives the name of the individual, their hometown, their age, and we do that for every service member that's killed in action. On the Defense Department web site, daily we post the casualties.

    So the idea that somehow we're trying to not let the American people have the information about the cost of this war in terms of the human sacrifice, I think is not a true reflection of what the facts are.​
     
  23. Chip NoVaMac macrumors G3

    Chip NoVaMac

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    #24
    It appears that the US Air force erred in releasing those images, when the FOIA request was for those images from the military personnel that died in Iraq. I am sure that it was an unfortunate oversight on everyones part.

    My heart goes out to those serving. If you are proud of how the troops are serving in Iraq, you might want to see how some are really showing the American compassion: http://www.punchbaby.com/media/gitfakt/clips/sick/DontLoot.wmv .

    It seems that we all will want to see what we want to see. I hope that 700 more bodies don't come home before a change happens in Washington.
     
  24. voicegy macrumors 65816

    voicegy

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    #25

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