Families of the Fallen Favor Transparency

DOVER, Del. – In the weeks since the Pentagon ended an 18-year ban on media coverage of fallen soldiers returning to the U.S., most families given the option have allowed reporters and photographers to witness the solemn ceremonies that mark the arrival of flag-draped transfer cases. [...]

The ban on media coverage dated back to 1991, when President George H.W. Bush imposed it during the Persian Gulf War. It was cast as a way to protect the privacy of grieving families, but critics argued that officials were trying to hide the human and political cost of war.

"I think it was to protect the government's butt," said David Pautsch, who allowed the media to witness the return of his son Jason, an Army corporal from Davenport, Iowa, who was killed with four other soldiers in a bombing in Iraq.

He said the ban was more about minimizing the political impact of Americans dying overseas.

"I think it was a reaction against the second-guessing of our country's mission," he said.

Since the ban was lifted, 19 families have been asked whether they wanted media coverage of their loved one's return and 14 have said yes.

Fully story here. Also, see Charles Paul Freund's great 2004 piece on "the strange history of war death imagery."

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  • ||

    officials were trying to hide the human and political cost of war

    Of course they were. Those flag-draped coffins are powerful symbols. Why is that kid dead? Oh, because politicians decided that attacking some country was what they wanted.

    Politicians hide themselves away
    They only started the war
    Why should they go out to fight?
    They leave that role to the poor

    Time will tell on their power minds
    Making war just for fun
    Treating people just like pawns in chess
    Wait till their judgement day comes, yeah

  • Fare and Ballast||

    ""I think it was to protect the government's butt," said David Pautsch, who allowed the media to witness the return of his son Jason, an Army corporal from Davenport, Iowa, who was killed with four other soldiers in a bombing in Iraq.

    He said the ban was more about minimizing the political impact of Americans dying overseas.

    "I think it was a reaction against the second-guessing of our country's mission," he said."

    I think it was because Bush I understood the the MSM is just a pack of greedy, self-important jackels. Fourth branch of the government my ass.

  • ||

    In the weeks since the Pentagon ended an 18-year ban on media coverage of fallen soldiers returning to the U.S., most families given the option have allowed reporters and photographers to witness the solemn ceremonies that mark the arrival of flag-draped transfer cases.



    I'm wondering -- not opining on -- how many families would have allowed their loved one to be photographed, say, 16 years ago. Now that every young girl's dream is to be on The Real World and every young man Twitters about vomiting outside a Bennigan's, solemn privacy seems quaint (and a waste of 15 good minutes*).

    *in the Warhol sense

  • Fare and Ballast||

    "Politicians hide themselves away
    They only started the war
    Why should they go out to fight?
    They leave that role to the poor"

    What a crock of shit. There are many in congress, and the vice presidency, who have sons and daughters in Iraq and Afghanastan.

    And that NFL player killed by friendly fire (Tillman?)? Just how "poor" was he?

  • Cabeza De Vaca||

    "And that NFL player killed by friendly fire (Tillman?)? Just how "poor" was he?"

    He wasn't a politician.

  • High Every Body||

    CDV,

    I believe he was commenting on that last line that he quoted. Politicians do leave that role to others, but calling the others poor is just another falsehood in the class war.

  • ||

    This is one I agree with Obama on. Let the families have the say.

    Although I also see why Bush banned the photos, given that he was fighting a propaganda war against most of the legacy media.

  • ||

    What a crock of shit. There are many in congress, and the vice presidency, who have sons and daughters in Iraq and Afghanastan.

    First, dude, those are lyrics from "War Pigs" by Black Sabbath. Secondly, how many of those sons and daughters are on the front lines, versus being in logistics, or as officers, etc?

    Please. Any parent would do what they could to keep their children out of harm's way, and politicians are uniquely positioned to do so.

  • ||

    How many people are stupid enough ruled by emotions over intellect so much that the sight of closed caskets being unloaded from a plane makes a whit of difference about how they feel about this or any other war?

  • High Every Body||

    Although I also see why Bush banned the photos, given that he was fighting a propaganda war against most of the legacy media.

    Wasn't it not long after CNN showed Bush at an event, laughing properly, but CNN had him inset against the flag draped coffins coming off of an airplane hundreds of miles away?

  • High Every Body||

    Epi,

    I thought you knew something about this stuff.

    Secondly, how many of those sons and daughters are on the front lines, versus being in logistics, or as officers, etc?

    Seems you need to just stick to some opinions without throwing in cluless details.

    Like acting like line officers are nout out there with their soldiers, or flying helicopters in direct support of ground forces.

    No, don't bother aswering with your cluless as fuck bullshit either.

  • ||

    Did I strike a nerve, HEB?

  • Xeones||

    How many people are stupid enough ruled by emotions over intellect so much that the sight of closed caskets being unloaded from a plane makes a whit of difference about how they feel about this or any other war?

    About 6 billion or so. Why?

  • High Every Body||

    And you can shove the spell check up your ass too.

  • ||

    I believe he was commenting on that last line that he quoted. Politicians do leave that role to others, but calling the others poor is just another falsehood in the class war.

    Household income of enlistees is a shade lower than the median. Only a shade, statistically meaningless I'd say.

    By and large, the enlisted folks in the military are from middle class families. Those from poverty backgrounds have an unsurpisingly higher failure rate (LTH discharges) but those that play the game and try to succeed find themselves in the middle class after 4-8 years.

    That's a reality that the lefties ignore.

  • High Every Body||

    That's a reality that the lefties ignore.

    Yea, like the ones who don't know that loggies are the ones getting attacked on convoys or that the Infantry, MPs and others are actually lead by Officers, in person.

  • T||

    Meh. I agree leaving it to the families is the appropriate response, but I'm fuzzy on details of how you handle that with, say, 6 caskets on a C-5. I'm not going to get up in arms over it, though. Whatever photo you can take of a flag-draped casket really isn't sufficient to convey much about mortality in wartime, and that's speaking as a guy who's loaded body bags and casualties onto helicopters for evac.

    In any event, propagandizing with the bodies of the slain strikes me as unseemly no matter which side it's coming from.

  • VM||

    let the families decide!

    and comfort and condolences to all the families, friends, and loved ones of those who have died.

  • ||

    In any event, propagandizing with the bodies of the slain strikes me as unseemly no matter which side it's coming from.

    QFT. Let them rest in peace.

  • ||

    "Household income of enlistees is a shade lower than the median. Only a shade, statistically meaningless I'd say.

    By and large, the enlisted folks in the military are from middle class families. Those from poverty backgrounds have an unsurpisingly higher failure rate (LTH discharges) but those that play the game and try to succeed find themselves in the middle class after 4-8 years.

    That's a reality that the lefties ignore."

    The "only the poor enlist" and the crazed, mal adjusted veteran are the two lefty myths that make me the most angry.

  • Fare and Ballast||

    "He wasn't a politician."

    Epi's poem (line 4): "They leave that role to the poor" Tillman was a millionaire.

    Dumbass.

  • ||

    "In any event, propagandizing with the bodies of the slain strikes me as unseemly no matter which side it's coming from.

    QFT. Let them rest in peace."

    I agree as well. On a related note, is there some lone gunman out there who can bomb the Waynesboro Baptist Church?

  • ||

    Why the bipolar bit, HEB?

  • ||

    I think they should not only show the coffins but they should have to show the bodies being blown up. Not just of soldiers, but how about of the children we refer to as collateral damage? Maybe then the American people would only allow its government to go to war when it's absolutely justified. For that matter, would Mr. seven-deferment Dick Cheney have been so enthusiastic about war if he actually had experienced it in any real way?

  • ||

    So I guess Tony you will be joining up to fight Obama's war in AFghanistan and Pakistan? Obama has never experienced war and neither have many of his supporters. Yet, he is purposely escalating the war in Afghanistan and starting a war in NW Pakistan. Are you going to join up to fight or are you just a chickenhawk who supports sending other people's kids off to die?

  • Fare and Ballast||

    "So I guess Tony you will be joining up to fight Obama's war in AFghanistan and Pakistan? Obama has never experienced war and neither have many of his supporters."

    Goddam chicken hawks.

  • Minion of URKOBOLD||

    YEAH YEAH YEAH, TONY! AND WE SHOULD ALSO SHOULD HAVE TO EAT SOME OF THE BLOWN OFF BITS. YEAH.

    TISSUE, SINEW, SAND, SHRAPNEL. mmmmm TASTY!

    AND IT'S NOT COLLATERAL DAMAGE. IT'S "ADJUSTABLE MORTGAGE IN TROUGH OF INTEREST RATE CYCLE" DAMAGE.

    IF YOU'RE GONNA TROLL, AT LEAST DO IT FREAKIN RIGHT, YOU ... YOU... YOU...

    BIKIE WITH TRAINING WHEELS.

  • ||

    Epi's poem (line 4): "They leave that role to the poor" Tillman was a millionaire.

    Dumbass.


    It's from the Black Sabbath song, Mr. Touchy, not from me. And using a totally unusual circumstance (Tillman) is absurd. The use of the term poor, in any case, is an allusion to "not politically connected", which includes most of us.

  • T||

    The "only the poor enlist" and the crazed, mal adjusted veteran are the two lefty myths that make me the most angry.

    I dunno. I've noticed a lot of veterans come out with an almost instinctive distrust of the government, which makes them crazed and maladjusted to a lefty.

  • ||

    If they die for America, then America has a right to see. But I will take family choice as a compromise.

    Just curious John, how do you define middle class?

    """The "only the poor enlist" and the crazed, mal adjusted veteran are the two lefty myths that make me the most angry."""

    Generalization? Certainly it's not just the poor, but in low income places, the military is a good option to better your life. So yes, a lot of poor do join the military and there is nothing wrong with it. If it's your best option to improve your life, go for it. But to say only, that a fallacy.

    Mal adjusted vets are a reality, not all vets of course, but war can fuck up the mind, nothing new there. Many people do come back and have a difficult time readjusting, which is why the VA is concerned about getting troops mental health screenings and help if they need or want it.

    To claim it's a myth is just as wrong as people who claim it's all.

  • ||

    John,

    Just because I'm a liberal Democrat doesn't mean I support everything Obama does.

    I don't believe in fighting terrorism with military action, because that's dumb. I don't really have an answer for Pakistan and Afghanistan. I just wish we'd had some useful foreign policy in the region when it could have made a difference.

  • Minion of URKOBOLD||

    I don't believe in fighting terrorism with military action, because that's dumb.

    BUT YOU DO MIX PLAIDS AND LINES, YOU SILLY LEG BEFORE WICKET SILLY ENGLISH TWADDLENOCK

  • ||

    "Generalization? Certainly it's not just the poor, but in low income places, the military is a good option to better your life. So yes, a lot of poor do join the military and there is nothing wrong with it. If it's your best option to improve your life, go for it. But to say only, that a fallacy."


    As J Sub D points out above, the medium income of those enlisting in the military is just above average. So it is just not true that "a lot of poor" enlist in the military. To lie and say otherwise implies that people only enlist because they have no where else to go, which is a slander on everyone who enlists.

    "Mal adjusted vets are a reality, not all vets of course, but war can fuck up the mind, nothing new there. Many people do come back and have a difficult time readjusting, which is why the VA is concerned about getting troops mental health screenings and help if they need or want it."


    Mal adjusted people are a reality. Sometimes they are mal adjusted because of their military service, sometimes because they were beaten as a child and sometimes for no reason at all. To imply that the fact that they are vets is an important discriminator implies there is something about being a veteran that makes them more likely to be mal adjusted. That again, is simply not true. Combat veterans from both World War II, Korea and Vietnam as a group have lower suicide, crime, divorce and mental illness rates than their non veteran counter parts. Given the fact boomers who didn't serve have objectively higher mal adjustment rates than Vietnam Vets, can we please start making movies and talking about the problem of mal-adjusted aging hippies who never got the help they needed back in the 70s?

  • T||

    can we please start making movies and talking about the problem of mal-adjusted aging hippies who never got the help they needed back in the 70s?

    What are we gonna call it? The Clinton Administration Movie?

  • ||

    "What are we gonna call it? The Clinton Administration Movie?"

    They all came back for the sequal this year. If David Axelrod isn't an example of a maladjusted aging hippie who never got the help he needed back in the day, who is?

  • VM||

    "a maladjusted aging hippie who never got the help he needed back in the day"

    quoted for golden value

  • T||

    "a maladjusted aging hippie who never got the help he needed back in the day"

    I smell sit-com gold here! Or a Lifetime Movie of the Week. Either way, there's money in this phrase. Somebody should start a script.

  • ||

    T,

    It could be set on a college campus.

  • ||

    I don't really have an answer for Pakistan and Afghanistan.

    I guess "doing nothing" is always an option, but when it will result in a nuclearized AQ with two safe haven countries, you might want to do better.

    I just wish we'd had some useful foreign policy in the region when it could have made a difference.

    At some point, Tony, you're going to have to own up to the fact that Obama and the Dems own it all now. "Its Bush's fault!" is a wasting asset, with a useful life measured in weeks, not months.

    Just because I'm a liberal Democrat doesn't mean I support everything Obama does.

    I don't believe in fighting terrorism with military action, because that's dumb.


    So what have you done lately to protest the wars?

  • ||

    """Given the fact boomers who didn't serve have objectively higher mal adjustment rates than Vietnam Vets, can we please start making movies and talking about the problem of mal-adjusted aging hippies who never got the help they needed back in the 70s?"""

    That doesn't deny the fact that combat fucks with the head. What happens to the rest of the population isn't that relevant when we talk about war related trama. War related mental health issues are real and the VA is making some effort to deal with it.

    """As J Sub D points out above, the medium income of those enlisting in the military is just above average. So it is just not true that "a lot of poor" enlist in the military."""

    JsubD says

    ""Household income of enlistees is a shade lower than the median. Only a shade, statistically meaningless I'd say.""

    He didn't say above average. He said below average by a statistically meaningless value. Therefore about average, but not above. Again it depends on how you define poor. 47,000 a year is low income where I live.


    "Nearly two-thirds, 64 percent, of recruits to the military were from counties that have average incomes lower than the national median National Priorities Project said. The group looked at Department of Defense data for 2004. ""
    http://www.military.com/NewsContent/0,13319,79770,00.html?ESRC=marine-a.nl

  • ||

    "Nearly two-thirds, 64 percent, of recruits to the military were from counties that have average incomes lower than the national median National Priorities Project said. The group looked at Department of Defense data for 2004. ""


    Sorry but that doesn't answer the mail. Just because you are from a poor country doesn't mean you are poor. this however does

    U.S. military service disproportionately attracts enlisted personnel and officerswho do not come from disadvantaged backgrounds. Previous Her­itage Foundation research demonstrated that the quality of enlisted troops has increased since the start of the Iraq war. This report demon­strates that the same is true of the officer corps.
    Members of the all-volunteer military are sig­nificantly more likely to come from high-income neighborhoods than from low-income neighborhoods. Only 11 percent of enlisted recruits in 2007 came from the poorest one-fifth (quintile) of neighborhoods, while 25 per­cent came from the wealthiest quintile. These trends are even more pronounced in the Army Reserve Officer Training Corps (ROTC) pro­gram, in which 40 percent of enrollees come from the wealthiest neighborhoods-a number that has increased substantially over the past four years.
    American soldiers are more educated than their peers. A little more than 1 percent of enlisted per­sonnel lack a high school degree, compared to 21 percent of men 18-24 years old, and 95 percent of officer accessions have at least a bachelor's degree. "

    http://www.heritage.org/Research/NationalSecurity/cda08-05.cfm

    "That doesn't deny the fact that combat fucks with the head. What happens to the rest of the population isn't that relevant when we talk about war related trama. War related mental health issues are real and the VA is making some effort to deal with it."

    Lots of things fuck with your head. Some people are fucked up by combat but lots aren't. Some people are just as fucked up or more fucked up by their childhoods or a divorce or any number of things. Again, it is the person not necessarily the experience.

  • ||

    """Mal adjusted people are a reality. Sometimes they are mal adjusted because of their military service, sometimes because they were beaten as a child and sometimes for no reason at all. """

    And sometimes it was because half his body was torched by a IED, or he watched a couple of his best friends get blown to bits, or being repeatedly shot at.

    http://www.ncptsd.va.gov/ncmain/ncdocs/fact_shts/overview_mental_health_effects.html?opm=1&rr=rr1773&srt=d&echorr=true

    There are many stories about troops who are having a hard time adjusting when they return. It's part of war.

  • ||

    Your link isn't as cut and dry as you made it seem.

    "Individual or family income data on enlistees do not exist. The Defense Department does not main­tain records on the household income of recruits or officers. Examining the earnings of most recruits before they joined the military is not possible because, for most of them, their first full-time job is in the military.

    Instead, we approximated the recruits' house­hold incomes by assigning each recruit the median household income of the census tract in which they lived. This approximates their parents' economic status. For example, 10 recruits in 2006 came from census tract 013306 in San Diego. Accordingly, we assigned to each of these 10 recruits a median household income of $57,380 per year (in 2008 dollars), the median income of that tract in the 2000 Census.""

  • T||

    There are many stories about troops who are having a hard time adjusting when they return. It's part of war.

    The plural of anecdote is not data. Yeah, some guys come back pretty fucked in the head. Some were also fucked in the head to begin with. It is difficult to separate the one from the other.

    Me, I've always been crazy, so I'm not a real good data point either way. ;)

  • ||

    ""The plural of anecdote is not data."""

    True, but I wasn't really trying to offer any with that sentence.

    """"Lots of things fuck with your head. Some people are fucked up by combat but lots aren't. Some people are just as fucked up or more fucked up by their childhoods or a divorce or any number of things."""

    I agree, and that doesn't dispute the fact that some troops who do come back have a hard time adjusting. You say some people are fucked up by combat, yet you say the mal-adjusted veteran is a left-wing myth, as if those who return fucked up will have no problem adjusting.

    I would also agree that not all mal-adjusted vets are they way as a result of war. But they are still mal-adjusted and still a vet and organization do exist to help.

  • Suki||

    Why do so many of my peers on the left have to pick on the military, especially the officers?

    It comes across pretty bad. Especially when it is from a bunch of college graduates who decided not to pursue a manual labor career.

  • zoltan||

    Especially when it is from a bunch of college graduates who decided not to pursue a manual labor career.

    Talk about describing the last eight years of presidency and vice presidency as well as the next four. If there's anything worse than picking on the military, it's sending them out because you think it will make you look better, because you're making up for daddy issues, because you want to distract people from your embarrassing trifling with an intern, because invisible sky fairy told you, etc.

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