The controversy du jour is this (from POLITICO):
Defense Secretary Robert Gates is objecting “in the strongest terms” to an Associated Press decision to transmit a photograph showing a mortally wounded 21-year-old Marine in his final moments of life, calling the decision “appalling” and a breach of “common decency.”
The AP reported that the Marine’s father had asked – in an interview and in a follow-up phone call — that the image, taken by an embedded photographer, not be published.
The AP reported in a story that it decided to make the image public anyway because it “conveys the grimness of war and the sacrifice of young men and women fighting it.”
The photo shows Lance Cpl. Joshua M. Bernard of New Portland, Maine, who was struck by a rocket-propelled grenade in a Taliban ambush Aug. 14 in Helmand province of southern Afghanistan, according to the AP.
Gates wrote to Thomas Curley, AP’s president and chief executive officer. “Out of respect for his family’s wishes, I ask you in the strongest of terms to reconsider your decision. I do not make this request lightly. In one of my first public statements as secretary of defense, I stated that the media should not be treated as the enemy, and made it a point to thank journalists for revealing problems that need to be fixed – as was the case with Walter Reed.”
“I cannot imagine the pain and suffering Lance Corporal Bernard’s death has caused his family. Why your organization would purposefully defy the family’s wishes knowing full well that it will lead to yet more anguish is beyond me. Your lack of compassion and common sense in choosing to put this image of their maimed and stricken child on the front page of multiple American newspapers is appalling. The issue here is not law, policy or constitutional right – but judgment and common decency.”
The four-paragraph letter concluded, “Sincerely,” then had Gates’ signature.
The photo, first transmitted Thursday morning and repeated Friday morning, carries the warning, “EDS NOTE: GRAPHIC CONTENT.”
The caption says: “In this photo taken Friday, Aug. 14, 2009, Lance Cpl. Joshua Bernard is tended to by fellow U.S. Marines after being hit by a rocket propelled grenade during a firefight against the Taliban in the village of Dahaneh in the Helmand Province of Afghanistan. Bernard was transported by helicopter to Camp Leatherneck where he later died of his wounds.” …
The AP reported that it “waited until after Bernard’s burial in Madison, Maine, on Aug. 24 to distribute its story and the pictures.” …
The AP photograph — which, ironically, now will be viewed by more people than it otherwise would have been because Bush regime holdover Gates has made it into an issue — actually isn’t all that graphic, not by today’s standards. Here it is:
Associated Press photo
You see some carnage in the image, but you’ve seen much worse in a Quentin Tarantino movie.
But this is the only kind of U.S. military picture that you’re supposed to see, you see:
Associated Press photo
That’s a picture of Joshua Bernard before he was sent to fight a questionable war in Afghanistan.
In his anti-free-speech letter to the AP — oh, yes, it is about constitutional rights and constitutional law — Gates described Bernard as a “maimed and stricken child” (emphasis mine).
Um, why are we sending such young people — so young that even the secretary of defense refers to one of them as a “child” — to fight old rich stupid cowardly white men’s wars?
And whose fault is Bernard’s death? Is it the fault of The Associated Press for simply showing an image of his death, or is it the fault of those evil men, who put corporate profits far above human life, who sent him to Afghanistan in the first place?
The Obama administration isn’t proving to be much better on free and open speech and on transparency than was the unelected Bush regime, which prohibited the media even from taking images of closed caskets containing American war dead. First the Obama administration blocked the release of more images of the Abu Ghraib House of Horrors abuses, and now this, Gates’ attempt at censorship in order to keep U.S. military recruitment propaganda intact.
But it’s only propaganda when someone else does it. The White House never engages in the dastardly practice of propaganda, of lying to the American people, even if only by omission, such as by blocking the release of images that aren’t politically helpful.
Again, you’re supposed to see only the before military pictures, the happy military pictures, the “Top Gun”-like pictures, the pictures that are good for U.S. military recruitment, and never the after pictures, because the after pictures aren’t good for the military-industrial complex. Pictures of maimed 21-year-olds aren’t good for military recruitment, you see, and they might just make the American taxpayers revolt against what is being done in their name with their tax dollars. (Yeah, I know, Americans having a revolution — funny…)
Why block the image of Bernard’s death? To be able to continue the same insanity that will cause the deaths of even more of our young people.
Sure, every young person who joins the U.S. military knows, intellectually — abstractly — that he or she could get killed. But knowing something abstractly and seeing something with your own two eyes — those are very different things. Gates and his ilk know this.
But they can’t state the truth, which is that images of wartime carnage aren’t good for U.S. military recruitment and make the American people rethink the whole war thing.
So they have to lie, they have to hide behind the families of the young people who are put through the meat grinder that is the U.S. war machine, and they have to hide behind the troops, saying that the release of images that aren’t good for the military industrial complex harms the families of the fallen and even harms the troops.
The unelected Bush regime routinely hid behind the troops — Orwellianly asserted that those who opposed the Vietraq War were against and/or threatened U.S. troops, even though it was the unelected Bush regime, not anti-war activists, who sent our troops to their wholly unnecessary deaths in the sands of Vietraq for the war profiteering of Dick Cheney’s Halliburton and the other war-profiteering subsidiaries of BushCheneyCorp — and now here is Gates hiding behind Bernard’s family.
The Associated Press and the rest of the media are guilty only of not showing us enough images of the carnage that is going on in the name of we, the people.
Gates should go. The American people elected a Democratic president and here is a Repugnican “president’s” secretary of defense held over from the unelected Bush regime’s bogus wars. I think that President Obama retained Gates primarily in order to try to prove that Obama isn’t a pussified commander in chief. Ironically, though, Obama’s retention of Gates proves exactly that Obama is a pussified commander in chief, that he puts what some fucktards think above doing the right thing, which is to dump Bush regime holdover Gates.
And the only purpose of prohibiting images of what war really looks like is to be able to continue to dupe our young people, like Joshua Bernard — our children, as even Gates calls them — into dying for the profits of the evil filthy rich white men who send our children to die in their place for their spoils of war, wars which are paid for by us, the American taxpayers, who aren’t even guaranteed adequate health care — or even allowed to see the images of what our tax dollars are paying for.