Pentagon Pissed About Pictures

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What is it about this photograph that makes the Pentagon want to keep you from seeing it? For the life of me, I can’t figure it out, but the Pentagon is not happy over losing control of the 350+ pictures that have made their way onto the web.

The Pentagon lost its tight control over the images of coffins returning from Iraq as about 350 such images were released under the Freedom of Information Act and a Seattle newspaper published a similar photo taken by a military contractor.

After Dover Air Force Base, the main port for returning remains, released hundreds of government photos of the ceremonies, the Defense Department ordered yesterday that no more photographs be released. In addition, two employees for defense contractor Maytag Aircraft were fired after the Pentagon complained about a photo of flag-draped caskets taken by one of them that appeared in the Seattle Times.

In March 2003, on the eve of war in Iraq, the Pentagon ordered an end to all media coverage of ceremonies for the returning remains of soldiers killed overseas. Although Dover already had such a policy, the Pentagon action enforced a military-wide ban on images of flag-draped caskets that dated to late 2000 but had not been followed.

With few exceptions, the ban had remained in force until recent days. But last week, about 350 photos from Dover were released under a Freedom of Information Act request by Russ Kick, a First Amendment advocate who runs a Web site called the Memory Hole (www.thememoryhole.org). Dover recommended that Kick’s request be denied, but officials at Air Mobility Command headquarters at Scott Air Force Base in Illinois authorized the release on appeal. After Kick posted the photos, they appeared on other Web sites, including the Drudge Report.

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