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October 24, 2003

Out of sight, out of mind. From the Washington Post:
Since the end of the Vietnam War, presidents have worried that their military actions would lose support once the public glimpsed the remains of U.S. soldiers arriving at air bases in flag-draped caskets.

9 To this problem, the Bush administration has found a simple solution: It has ended the public dissemination of such images by banning news coverage and photography of dead soldiers’ homecomings on all military bases.

Good response here. (Spotted by Beth Meacham.) [11:49 AM]
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Hard-Hitting Moderator: Teresa Nielsen Hayden.

Comments on Out of sight, out of mind.:

Melissa Singer ::: (view all by) ::: October 24, 2003, 12:02 PM:

Just when I am about to decide that Jimmy Breslin has indeed lost his mind (as evidenced by his columns about dogs in NYC this summer, which were very crackpot-like), he does something that reminds me of his value.

Practically since the beginning of the war, Breslin has been writing regularly about the men and women killed in Iraq. Usually he writes a new piece every two weeks, and in it he gives the names, ranks and positions, hometowns (when possible) and circumstances of death for every person killed in Iraq since his previous column.

It's just a little paragraph for each person.

But it's there.

Sometimes, as in this week's column, he waxes wroth on the whole subject of the war:


Dave Trowbridge ::: (view all by) ::: October 24, 2003, 12:17 PM:

It just proves that the Bushistas and neocons, despite their warlike rhetoric, are nothing more than stinking cowards, afraid to face the judgement of the American people. But judgement is coming.

That cartoon is brilliant!

Copeland ::: (view all by) ::: October 25, 2003, 07:31 PM:

This obscuring of our dead and wounded is typical of the Bush Gang. I recently wrote in my weblog that,"This war will test our capacity to ignore the dead."

Almost every day we lose people in Iraq. And the fate of our wounded has been under-reported. They are almost invisible.

Kevin Andrew Murphy ::: (view all by) ::: October 25, 2003, 08:17 PM:

Not quite invisible. Just very well hidden.

Here, for a short time at least:

That's a cache of the Internet Haganah's webshots of anti-American webpages which has a photo of a GIs funeral pulled from some other source (not credited). It is, however, a photo of a private funeral with a flag on the coffin, not a military arrival of the body.

This is the first shot of a soldier's funeral I've seen in any news source, period.

the talking dog ::: (view all by) ::: October 26, 2003, 06:01 PM:

This still being a free country (for the moment), some have undertaken to at least publishing lists of the war dead from Iraq such as this.

I suppose by publishing such lists, these people are undermining national security, or giving aid and comfort to the enemy, or are Saddamites or whatever, right?

Elric ::: (view all by) ::: October 27, 2003, 07:50 AM:

Just heard from my brother in France. Apparently the banning of news coverage of casualties of war returning to the US has made the news in Europe. Just one more thing that they find very disturbing about this (mis)administration.

I've never gotten involved in a political campaign before, but I've now got a sign out front and have started making calls in support of the Dean campaign. The period through January 27 (NH Primary) should be interesting.

Melissa Singer ::: (view all by) ::: October 27, 2003, 11:00 AM:

This morning's Newsday included a map (which I can't link here, sorry) giving the # of dead from each state (not the names, just the #s, and as of a day or so ago, IIRC). California and Texas have the largest shares of the not-quite-350 dead, followed by New York.

It was a stunning visual in its own way.

Mitch Wagner ::: (view all by) ::: October 27, 2003, 07:35 PM:

I just wrote a lovely long post on this subject and then accidently zapped it. Phuque.

Short version: I was wrong. Sabotage is not terrorism.

Tired now, been waiting the last 30 hours to see if my house was going to burn.

Mitch Wagner ::: (view all by) ::: October 27, 2003, 07:36 PM:

And I meant to post that in a different discussion. Phuqque again. With two Qs this time.

Time to back away from the keyboard before I do more damage.

Michelle ::: (view all by) ::: October 28, 2003, 01:21 PM:

The lists of soldiers who have lost their lives are not that hidden. Since the start of hostilities they have been available on the Baltimore Sun website. (Note: the site is having problems so it may not be immediately accessible)

You can look at an alphabetical list of names or you can go through an reverse chronological list. (If the reverse chronological link doens't work right now, you can access it from side bar along the right, although that also seems to be having problems right now.) The reverse chronological list has an option for searching by state.

I've mentioned these two links every couple weeks on my site, because it's not right that those who died should remain nameless and faceless casualties. And I think that should be true regardless of whether you are on the right or the left.

Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: October 28, 2003, 07:01 PM:

Michelle, it's the pictures that are being suppressed. We Americans stop supporting wars when we see pictures of returning dead. The Bushite junta knows this and are suppressing these pictures for just that reason.

Michelle ::: (view all by) ::: October 28, 2003, 07:55 PM:


Ah... My mistake.

But I really like that site, since it has larger pictures of the lost, combined frequently with actual stories about the soldiers. (Perhaps like what NPR has been doing occasionally, running an indepth story on a lost life.)

For me, the pictures of when they were alive are far harder to see that caskets. Not to be stupid, but a casket is just a box with a flag over it, while a picture even with just the soldier's name, age and location tells you so much more about that life lost. Especially when so many of the soldiers looked so very young.

When I look at the pictures I see what they were and imagine what they could have been, and for me that is much harder. For the young, I imagine how they thought it couldn't happen to them, how they perhaps left their high school sweetheart behind, thinking they'd be back soon, and perhaps marry that sweetheart when they got back to the states. For the older, I imagine spouses and children and grandchilden left behind. Sometimes in some of the pictures you can almost see the solder holding up a small laughing child.

Those are the pictures that, for me, are hardest to see.

Kris Hasson-Jones ::: (view all by) ::: November 03, 2003, 12:44 PM:

Xopher, I disagree that when we see pictures of returning dead, we Americans stop supporting wars. I don't think the pictures change minds; other facts combined with pictures might be changing minds, but I think the deceptive Bush presentation of the reasons for the war, and the outcome, are a more convincing argument that actually has changed minds.

See The Unreturning Army for another perspective.

Jeremy Leader ::: (view all by) ::: November 03, 2003, 01:33 PM:

Kris, that "Unreturning Army" post has an interesting quote:

The Washington Post said the picture [of dead US soldiers during WW II] "can help us to understand something of what has been sacrificed for the victories we have won."

But that's the point; the Bush administration seems to be doing their best to prevent such understanding, presumably because they fear the conclusions it would lead to.

Kris Hasson-Jones ::: (view all by) ::: November 03, 2003, 02:00 PM:

Well, perspective is all--that's not what I took from the article. The sentence right before the one you quote says, While there were some angry and shocked readers, the reaction was mostly positive. I don't know what Mr. Hlavaty means, as he doesn't quote a source; but I suspect he means that people respected the sacrifices made, not that realizing we'd made sacrifices caused people to devalue what those sacrifices had bought, or to think the price was too high.

Again, I don't think that will change anyone's mind; I'm convinced that seeing body bags/coffins come back, and the grieving relatives, only supports previously-chosen positions. (That is, if you think it's awful you still will, and if you think it's a sad but predictable consequence of a good choice you still will.)

And thinking it will change people's minds and therefore ought to be done is propoganda, and insulting to the intelligence of the people you are trying to change--you must think they are ignorant of the fact that bodies are coming back, and you want to rub their noses in it as you would a dog who'd broken housetraining.

Is there anyone who hasn't lost a relative to this war, or at least knows someone who has? My nephew was injured while on duty in Iraq last spring--that doesn't change any of my opinions about the war, nor *his* opinion about it.

And since the decision about publicity at Dover was made 12 years ago, and the immediate decision about coffins was made in November 2000 (before the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001), it's hard for me to see a political motive tied to the Iraq war.

Jeremy Leader ::: (view all by) ::: November 03, 2003, 02:44 PM:

I'm sorry, Kris, I wasn't clear. In WW II, seeing dead soldiers helped us understand what was being sacrificed for the victories we won, as the quote said. The reaction was positive, because people thought that the sacrifices were for a good cause. With casualties in Iraq, the Bush administration seems to fear that the reaction will be negative.

The differences are that in WW II, the cause was good, and the sacrifices were ultimately effective. In Iraq, the excuses are good (save the world from a madman, bring freedom to the oppressed Iraqis) but the underlying causes are pretty unpleasant (bring American rule to the Middle East, enhance Halliburton's bottom line), and the sacrifices may not be accomplishing anything.

It seems to me that the Bush administration is trying very hard to keep people from thinking about the costs versus the benefits of our presence in Iraq. And yes, some of the tools they are using existed previously; that doesn't change the fact that they're trying a lot harder than previous administrations did to hide the costs of their foreign policies.

Terry Karney ::: (view all by) ::: November 05, 2003, 04:32 PM:

I think the most telling bit of Mr. Hlakty's comment is the attempt to link the invasion of Iraq to the attacks of Al Qaeda on the WTC.

That is a plainly propagandistic manipulation of facts, moreso than would be any spinning of casualties.

Alan Bostick ::: (view all by) ::: November 06, 2003, 11:06 AM:

That's a tinned-lunch-meat kind of opinion, don't you think, Mr. Debt Consolidation?

Kris Hasson-Jones ::: (view all by) ::: November 06, 2003, 03:21 PM:

Looks like a relative of deviled ham to me, that's for sure.

Patrick Nielsen Hayden ::: (view all by) ::: November 07, 2003, 12:18 AM:

Mr. Debt Consolidation's tinned lunchmeat has been pulled from the shelves. MT-Blacklist is a wonderful thing.

Kevin J. Maroney ::: (view all by) ::: November 07, 2003, 03:15 PM:

Kris Hasson-Jones said:
And since the decision about publicity at Dover was made 12 years ago, and the immediate decision about coffins was made in November 2000 . . . it's hard for me to see a political motive tied to the Iraq war.

Notice the date on the decision about Dover. Note who was president then, and where the US was then at war.

Kris Hasson-Jones ::: (view all by) ::: November 07, 2003, 03:23 PM:

Yup, I got the link; but we did have a different president for a while there, and he didn't see fit to change the policy.

Would you? I wouldn't.