14 October 2009

U.S. Military Decides That Once Is Enough

Last month I posted on the conflict that emerged surrounding the release of a series of photographs, taken by a reporter embedded with the U.S. Marine on patrol in Afghanistan; the images chronicled what turned out to be fatal wounds sustained by an American serviceman. (Notice - I'm not using names because everything is supposed to remain private.) The embedded photographer had complied with relevant regulations. But, when she released her work, controversy ensued nonetheless.

Well, the Marine command in that part of the war zone has now changed the rules. You can read about the changes here. Unsurprisingly the new rules are considerably more restrictive; they effectively ban images of casualties. What is interesting is the rationale that the brass have concocted:
“The clarification was added to ensure that service members’ privacy and propriety are maintained in situations where media have unique and intimate access as embedded reporters,” [Master Sgt. Tom] Clementson [of Regional Command East Public Affairs] wrote by e-mail in response to questions. “While RC East does everything possible to accommodate an embedded reporters’ ability to cover the war in this region, there is also a command responsibility to account for the best interests of its service members.”
So, the military brass describe what is effectively a reversal of policy as a "clarification." They neglect to mention that this new set of restrictions is much narrower than those currently in force elsewhere in Afghanistan. They, once again, hide behind the smoke screen of "privacy" despite the fact that military personnel are public agents enacting official government policy. And, of course, the really sweet part is that, having insisted that all press access be on their terms (everyone must be "embedded" and, so, comply with military ground rules) they now worry that the "media have unique and intimate access" to military operations. Come on! You guys can do better than that.

The problem is that the military really wants it both ways. They expect us to honor the service of those off fighting "for us." But we should not have any real information about the sacrifices that that entails. News flash: You cannot sanitize war! trying to do so simply makes you look really hypocritical. ANd that, of course, diminishes support for your mission.

Labels: , ,


Post a Comment

Links to this post:

Create a Link

<< Home