Monday, September 21, 2009
(One factor not mentioned here is Bush's ban on showing even military caskets and insistence on not counting as combat deaths those who died in route to or at hospitals in order to reduce the death factor to the American public. He was well aware that graphic photos of wounded, dead or dying military personnel in the wars would arouse emotions and anti-war feelings, and therefore less support for an increasingly unpopular war. Although photographers violated the president's no-casket-pics, and took combat photos of casualties when able, most of the media respected the president's views and did not publish. Another factor was that troops would block photography of their dead, dying, or wounded buddies when they could.)
Why Few Graphic Images from Iraq Make it to U.S. Papers
The Times' survey of six months of coverage found almost no pictures of Americans killed in action at a time when 559 Americans and Western allies died; the same publications ran just 44 photos from Iraq to represent the thousands of Westerners wounded during the same period. But according to photo services, pictures are sometimes transmitted and left unused. Santiago Lyon, director of photography for The Associated Press, says the wire service primarily gets such images from embedded photographers, who are bound by military ground rules to hold back photos in which the dead or wounded might be recognized until the families are notified. "If the faces are not recognizable, in theory you can send them," he says. "But it's rare that we're in a situation where we're able to [obtain] those pictures. Even with the foreign photographers working there, it's still a lot of hit and miss."
One notable exception: Last year, AP photographer John B. Moore -- one of a team of AP photographers in Iraq who won a Pulitzer in the breaking news category this year -- got exclusive access to a U.S. military hospital in Baghdad and was able to photograph the dead and wounded. One striking image that he captured showed medics attempting to resuscitate a dying soldier. "We made an effort not to show the faces," says Lyon, "but when we sent them out, in the U.S. a lot of major papers chose not to run them. Those papers and other media subscribe to our feed. They're paying a flat rate, and can run as many or as few as they choose. In this case, they chose not to."
For Philadelphia Inquirer photographer David Swanson, who spent a month with Second Battalion, Fourth Marine Regiment in April 2004, the dearth of photos of the dead and wounded smacks of "situational" ethics: "There's less chance of publishing a mortally wounded American on the cover than that of an Afghani or Iraqi," he relates in an e-mail. "Papers ran the photos of the dead from the tsunami, but would we have done that if it had happened in Florida?"
The very timeliness of photographs taken in Mosul on election day last January by Moises Saman, a longtime photographer for Newsday, raised problems for both the military and the newspaper. In an e-mail from his post in Afghanistan, Saman describes being embedded with a unit from the 82nd Airborne when a grenade attack severely injured seven American soldiers: "It was a bloody scene, with medics frantically assisting the wounded soldiers. The commander of the unit politely asked me to not file the images until the families of the wounded were notified. This in itself jeopardized the chances of the photographs being seen," due to loss of timeliness. Newsday, however, chose to run two of Saman's photos. The first, published on the night of the election, showed a soldier being carried away on a stretcher, photographed from the side to obscure his identity. The second, published four days later, showed another soldier being evacuated on a stretcher.
Saman believes so few pictures are appearing in American papers because of a double standard that he says reflects the nature of our society. "Americans understand we are at war -- but not many people want to see the real consequences, especially when they involve one of your own," he says. "I think some publications cater to this sentiment by trying not to anger subscribers and advertisers with harsh 'in-your-face' coverage of the true nature of war." Newsday's photography editor, Jeff Schamberry, says the paper used the best photos from the five or six Saman transmitted that day. "There was a sense of urgency in the pictures," he recalls. "In that respect they were good, because he was there and recorded an actual hostile event. That day went better than had been expected, and we were glad to get some kind of an action shot out of it." But he points out that even when the photographer is present to capture such an event, further confirmation is often needed: "I hate to eat a good picture, but if you don't have facts, it's hard to pop a picture in the paper with no explanation. It's not that you don't trust the photographer, it's just that they only have part of the story. You try to get the story as the Army reported it."
He cites the memorable photos taken at a Tal Afar checkpoint last January, showing bloodstained children who'd been riding in their family's car when soldiers on a patrol at dusk fired on them. Their father, the car's driver, had failed to slow down despite warning shots, the military said, and both parents were killed. "The photographer had tremendous pictures, and sent them through with very sketchy information," Schamberry says. "We wondered how to run it. We try to present a balanced picture, and not just sensational photos." It was Chris Hondros, a photographer for Getty Images, who took the photos of the Tal Afar checkpoint shooting while embedded with a unit of the 25th Infantry Division. He encountered some anger from the military last January after Getty chose not to agree to the military's request to delay sending them out. "They never asked me to censor," Hondros emphasizes, "they asked me to delay." But delay can sometimes mean the photos arrive too late to ever be used. Though he had not violated any ground rules, he chose to leave the next day. "Even if I had not sent those photos, I would have left that embed," he says. "The incident had been a high stress one, and it didn't start me out on a good footing with these particular soldiers. It's impossible to be operating under hostility in an embedded situation." His photographs of the blood-spattered, traumatized children were widely distributed to U.S. papers -- but few ran more than a single photo.
By contrast, Hondros says, those photographs "seemingly dominated the discourse in Europe, where they were run in full over multiple pages by many important papers there." AP's Lyon agrees that internationally there's more an appetite for those types of pictures. He feels the reluctance of U.S. newspapers to publish those images is not an issue on which AP should comment. "We're providing photos and text to our subscribers, and it's up to them to use pictures as they see fit," he observes. "We've covered our mission. Of course, as a journalist, I think the truth needs to be told." For Swanson, who captured a particularly vivid truth while embedded with Echo Company, which lost 12 of its Marines in a two-week period, the poverty of images has removed death from the war: "It's war, whether you agree to it or not ... death needs to be shown. You have to know what you might lose before you commit so many lives. A country needs to be reminded that an 18-year-old has just died, and that Memorial Day and Veterans' Day are not just days for picnics at the beach."
Barbara Bedway (firstname.lastname@example.org) is a contributor to E&P.
Labels: dearth of US casualty pics
Sunday, September 13, 2009
2nd Battalion loses its 7th Marine in Afghan fightingAdvertiser Staff and News Services
The photo of a fallen soldierMarine Lance Corporal Joshua Bernard, murdered in the "Neo-Con's War (Bush's War)" of power, greed, conquest and domination.
A seventh Kane'ohe Bay Marine with the 2nd Battalion, 3rd Regiment, has been killed in southwestern Afghanistan since the unit deployed in late May.
The Pentagon yesterday said Lance Cpl. Joshua M. Bernard, 21, of New Portland, Maine, died Friday while supporting combat operations in Helmand province. Bernard's cause of death was not disclosed.
Michael Grooms, a close friend, told the Morning Sentinel newspaper in Waterville, Maine, that Bernard was an active member of the youth group at his church, Crossroads Bible Church.
"He was inclined to help people if they needed it," Grooms said. "That's a lot of the reason why he went into the Marines, is to serve."
Grooms said Bernard was shy but loved to have fun.
Bernard was given the nickname "The Holy Man" by fellow Marines because of his beliefs, Grooms said.
Last week, 400 Marines — including Hawai'i troops — launched operation Eastern Resolve II in Now Zad district in Helmand province, battling Taliban fighters who at times put up heavy resistance.
Seven members of the 2nd Battalion have been killed in southwestern Afghanistan. The previous six died as the result of improvised explosive devices.
Bernard joined the Marines in November 2006 and reported to the 2nd Battalion in May 2007. Bernard previously deployed to Iraq with the unit in January 2008.
His awards include the Purple Heart, National Defense Service Medal, Afghanistan Campaign Medal, Iraq Campaign Medal, Global War on Terrorism Service Medal and a Sea Service Deployment Ribbon, according to the Marines.
Labels: Joshua Bernard - KIA
The photo of a fallen soldierMarine Lance Corporal Joshua Bernard, murdered in the "Neo-Con's War (Bush's War)" of power, greed, conquest and domination.
The death of Marine Joshua Bernard, captured in a controversial photo, reminds us of the war that won't end
Editor's note: The AP photo referenced in this story can be viewed as part of this gallery, which begins with a warning about its content. Salon has elected not to publish the photo itself. [But this blogger will.]
A correspondent's video of the combat action against the Taliban and of the too-soon death of a young man.
By Michael WinshipSept. 12, 2009 | There was a certain ironic and painful symmetry at work last month. As one iconic image of war was called into doubt, another was being created, a new photograph of combat's grim reality that already has generated controversy and anger. When it was first published in 1936, during the Spanish Civil War, Robert Capa's photo was captioned "Loyalist Militiaman at the Moment of Death." Better known today as "The Falling Soldier," the picture purportedly captures the gunning down of a Republican anarchist named Federico Borrell Garcia who was fighting against the forces of Gen. Francisco Franco. Dressed in what look like civilian clothes, wearing a cartridge belt, he is thrown backward in an almost balletic swoon, his rifle falling from his right hand.
The picture quickly came to symbolize the merciless and random snuffing out of life in wartime -- that murder committed in the name of God or country can strike unexpectedly, from a distance, like lightning from a cloudless sky.
Last month, the veracity of Capa's most famous picture was cast in doubt when José Manuel Susperregui, a Spanish academic, published a book in which he alleges that the photo was not taken where Capa claimed, but 35 miles away at a location where no fighting had yet taken place; that the picture was posed, a fake. Others disagree, but his evidence is compelling.
Just as that controversy was being reported in the news, in Afghanistan another man lay dying, another victim of war. His photo created a sensation, too. But no one is questioning its veracity. In this case, the image is all too real.
During an ambush on Aug. 14, Marine Lance Cpl. Joshua Bernard was hit by a rocket-propelled grenade in Afghanistan's Helmand province, where the Marines have been engaged in a major offensive, fighting to take territory back from the Taliban. Associated Press photojournalist Julie Jacobson took a picture of comrades trying to save his life. But it was too late.
Mortally wounded Marine Lance Corporal Joshua Bernard is aided and encouraged by his comrades as he lies bleeding into the rocky soil of a foreign land, sent by an unfeeling, avaricious government in an action planned long before 9-11.
Over the objections of Bernard's family and Defense Secretary Robert Gates, the AP published the photo as part of a series of articles and photographs about Bernard's platoon. Gates protested to AP that the wire service's "lack of compassion and common sense ... is appalling." AP replied that it had made a tough decision to "make public an image that conveys the grimness of war and the sacrifice of young men and women fighting it."
At "Bill Moyers Journal," our production team wrestled with the dilemma over whether to show the photo on this week's PBS broadcast. We finally decided to do so, but carefully placed it within the context of other pictures AP's Jacobson took earlier that day of Lance Cpl. Bernard and his fellow Marines on patrol. However your own conscience comes down on this issue, there can be no denying the story the photo tells. It forces us to confront through a young man's violent death the ugly, bloody reality of a war that America has been fighting longer than we fought in the First and Second World Wars combined.
August was the deadliest month for our troops in Afghanistan since we first invaded the country shortly after 9/11. It has been a gruesome summer -- 51 Americans died in August; 45 in July. And to what end? The Taliban is resurgent. Almost two-thirds of the country is deemed too dangerous for aid agencies to deliver much-needed help. Civilian casualties this year have reached more than a thousand, including the victims of suicide bombings and so-called collateral damage from American airstrikes. The credibility of recent so-called free elections has been shattered with charges of widespread fraud and corruption.
As the Economist magazine noted last month, resentment against the Karzai government, NATO forces and Westerners in general is growing. "It seems clear," the magazine reported, "that the international effort to bring stability to Afghanistan, in which a strong somewhat liberal and democratic state can take root, is failing." And yet, consider this open letter to President Obama from some of the very same neocons who used falsehoods, propaganda and manipulation to throw us into Iraq -- arguing for invasion of that country even before the 9/11 attacks occurred. "We remain convinced that the fight against the Taliban is winnable," they write, "and it is in the vital national security interest of the United States to win it."
The letter lands just as several European countries have called for a conference to assess the current situation and the commander of our forces in Afghanistan, Gen. Stanley McChrystal, delivers a review to the White House, a report many believe sets the stage for an even greater expansion of the war. But on Monday, the McClatchy news service reported that some top Pentagon officials worry that without a clear definition of our mission there, further escalation may be useless. According to the article, "Some even fear that deploying more U.S. troops, especially in the wake of a U.S. airstrike last week that killed and wounded scores of Afghan civilians, would convince more Afghans that the Americans are occupiers rather than allies and relieve the pressure on the Afghan government to improve its own security forces."One of that story's reporters, McClatchy's chief Pentagon correspondent Nancy Youssef, recently returned from Afghanistan and was interviewed by my colleague Bill Moyers for this week's "Journal." Youssef said, "I can't tell you how many Afghans said to me, 'I don't want the Americans. I don't want the Taliban. I just want to be left alone.'" Nonetheless, "Either the United States commits to this and really commits to it, or it walks away. But this middle ground of sort of holding on isn't going to work anymore ... We're at least coming to that decision point ... And to me, that's good news, because at least it gives everybody involved some sense of where this is going. I think that's something worth looking forward to. Because what's been going on up until now is unacceptable."
What no one understands for sure yet, she said, is President Obama's position: "That's the big mystery in Washington ... Because it will ultimately be his decision." We should have a better idea of where he stands on Sept. 24, when the White House is supposed to present a list of metrics by which progress in Afghanistan will be measured, a condition that was set by Congress for the approval of further war funding.
In addition to the theories of generals and diplomats, the president and Congress may wish to pay careful attention to the words of an Afghan villager named Ghafoor. He told a correspondent for the Economist, "We need security. But the Americans are just making trouble for us. They cannot bring peace, not if they stay for 50 years."
[As the US in South Korea??]
Not a pretty picture.
Labels: afghanistan war and death
Monday, September 07, 2009
What a nation censors...
Janet Jackson....Howard Stern....military casualties
Bush had the woman fired who dared to take this photo of coffins being loaded each night in Kuwait for secret shipment back home. More. Dover coffin photos. Still More. Bush does not count soldiers who die en route to hospital or in hospital in Germany as deaths. This means the true death count of American soldiers is over five times higher than Bush is reporting. In 2006 the Pentagon relented and has released some coffin photos such as these and these.
(Chicago Tribune) Photo of GIs' caskets costs worker her job
Not only the photographer but her husband were fired for publishing photos of American caskets from Iraq. Maytag Aircraft's owner says "he's sorry to lose them." You didn't lose them, numbnuts, you fired them. A flick of the tail to Maureen Dowd, fellow CUA grad, for her courageous editorials...
Labels: nation censors
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