Photos of Dover Caskets Made Public

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The Pentagon has released hundreds of flag-draped coffin images, in response to a Freedom of Information Act request. See them here. (Link via Sploid.)

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  1. Does anybody know why some of the faces were blacked-out and some weren’t? Like in 2 of the pictures I saw, the chaplain’s face was visible but none of the other solier’s were. In another, the soldier’s faces were visible, but they blacked-out their name on their uniform?

    Not that it upsets me or anything, I’m just curious.

  2. i never did figure out what the big deal was with the pictures. Not sure why the military wouldn’t release them, and not sure why folks freaked out when they didn’t release them. Is the picture of the coffin really more mentally damaging than pictures of dead/dying/bloddy soldiers in the field?

  3. “Does anybody know why some of the faces were blacked-out and some weren’t?”

    Presumably part of the military’s wildly inconsistent policy on not releasing the identities of active duty military personnel.

  4. A brief and pretty much spot-on explanation of the ban from the link to the photos is offered:

    “The ban on media coverage of returning casualties was imposed by Defense Secretary Cheney after an embarrassing incident in which three television networks broadcast live, split-screen images in December, 1989, as the first U.S. casualties were returning from an American assault on Panama.

    In that incident, President Bush was seen on television joking at a White House news conference while somber images of flag-draped coffins arriving at Dover Air Force Base moved across viewers’ screens.

    The ban on war casualty images was continued during the Clinton administration, which made several exceptions to allow publication and broadcast upon the return of victims of attacks against U.S. personnel abroad, including the bombing of the U.S.S. Cole in 2000.

    President George W. Bush continued the ban following the start of the Afghanistan war in October, 2001 and the Iraq invasion in March, 2003.

    Former Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Gen. Henry Shelton, coined the phrase “the Dover Test” to describe the impact of images of flag-draped coffins returning from a battlefield to the military mortuary at Dover, potentially affecting public support for a war.

    Images of casualties have played significant roles in many previous conflicts, beginning with the Civil War in the 1860’s and continuing through World Wars I and II and the Vietnam conflict in the 1960’s. In 1991, President Bush asserted that the U.S. had “kicked the Vietnam syndrome once and for all,” but later in the 1990’s, deployments of U.S. troops in Somalia, Bosnia and Kosovo were influenced by memories of the images of Vietnam-era casualties.”

    “Presumably part of the military’s wildly inconsistent policy on not releasing the identities of active duty military personnel.” – SR

    No doubt about that…

  5. Note to military chain of command: If you don’t want to release the photo, don’t take the picture.

  6. Note to news organizations: Don’t pull a fast one to make the President unfairly look like he doesn’t care about casualties without his and future administrations responding to make it harder to get the images.

  7. Good point Rob.

  8. Note to news organizations: Don’t pull a fast one to make the President unfairly look like he doesn’t care about casualties without his and future administrations responding to make it harder to get the images.

    Does he care as much for Mrs. Smith’s son as he does for his daughters?

  9. mike2039, Huh? I have no idea what the point you’re trying to make is …

    If it’s a slam on the current President, then the history points out that the ban was put in place during his Dad’s presidency (because of the shameless split screen maneuver mentioned in my first post). Bush Sr. is “the President” I referred to in my second post, and it continued during the Clinton Administration.

    So… what’s your point here?

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