Friday, September 4, 2009

Realities of War? Pentagon Protests AP Photo of Dying Marine in Afghanistan

The photograph of Lance Cpl. Joshua M. Bernard, 21, who was hit by a rocket-propelled grenade in Helmand Province, Afghanistan, is here: "Associated Press Says Photo of Lance Cpl. Joshua Bernard Shows Realities of War."

Fox News has the report, "
Gates Assails 'Appalling' Decision by AP to Release Photo of Dying Marine":

Defense Secretary Robert Gates is criticizing the decision by the Associated Press to distribute a image taken by one of the wire service's photographers of a soldier fatally wounded on a battlefield in Afghanistan.

Gates called the decision "appalling," even going as far as to ask the AP to reconsider distributing the photo of Marines Lance Cpl. Joshua M. Bernard of Maine. Similar requests were made by Bernard's family.

But the Associated Press defended its decision, which, it said, came after "a period of reflection."

In an Aug. 14 attack by the Taliban in the Helmand province in southern Afghanistan, Bernard was hit by a rocket-propelled grenade, the Associated Press reported. AP photographer Julie Jacobson was embedded with the unit and captured an image of fellow Marines trying to rescue Bernard as he suffered severe leg injuries.

The AP reports he was taken to a field hospital, where he died on the operating table.

"AP journalists document world events every day. Afghanistan is no exception," Santiago Lyon, the wire services' director of photography, said. "We feel it is our journalistic duty to show the reality of the war there, however unpleasant and brutal that sometimes is."
This is obviously touchy. My own view is that the public gets inadequate coverage of our wars, and certainly press blackouts raise questions of government suppression of speech. However, there are limits, and preserving dignity in death is one. Plus, Bernard's father asked AP not to publish the image of his son dying on the battlefield. So, there's more to this than just AP's argument of a "public right to know." Of course, Associated Press is particularly suspect, with its clear antiwar agenda, demonstrated over and over again during the Bush administration.

Michelle Malkin posts the Pentagon's consent forms for embeds' publication of battlefield images. And see Blackfive, "The Associated Press - An Organization Without Judgment or Decency." Also, a raw report at Afghan Quest:
I’m going to state right now and unequivocally that I do not want for any pictures of me published that show me in any condition other than upright and breathing normally. All else is punishable by whatever violence I can visit upon you in whatever condition I am in. I want to write the most vile curses I can at this moment in my anger for a man who justifies going against the wishes of the family.
Here's the Politico's video report, from Andy Barr:

See also, the New York Times, "Behind the Scenes: To Publish or Not?"

Plus, Editor & Publisher has posted the photograph here. And, Cassandra at Villainous Company takes issue with Secretary Gates and his decision to allow published photos from Dover Air Force Base. But see as well, "America Can Handle the Coffins."


Anonymous said...

The realities of a war zone are HARD. Why try to hise them?

RandomThoughts said...

There's a difference between "hiding realities" and brute insensitivity to a family's pain, "Anonymous." I'm not surprised the AP did this though, I'm surprised they don't do it more often. Whatever sells gets printed.

Average American said...

It doesn't surprise me a bit that those brain-dead assholes at AP would run with this. They have absolutely no compassion for anyone or anything but themselves.