The Philadelphia Inquirer published an editorial today from Bryan Lentz, a Democratic state rep from Delaware County and an Iraq war veteran, who spoke out against rescinding the ban on filming our military casualties from the Iraq war in particular, with the ban enforced by Dubya to an extent not seen since it was first instituted by Poppy Bush in 1991.
I should provide more background on this first, though.
This Democracy Now! post in which Michael Rattner is interviewed (Rattner is identified as the President of the Center for Constitutional Rights) provides more information on how the ban was put into place, by the way, and it basically arose from a fit of pique by Bush The Elder. It turns out that he was trying to illustrate to reporters that he was experiencing neck pain and he did somewhat of a funny walk for the cameras while three major news networks went to a “split screen” showing flag-draped caskets returning to this country from our conflict in Panama against then-ruling strongman Manuel Noriega. I don’t know if this was an accidental slight by the networks or a bona fide attempt to make 41 look like an idiot in the face of tragedy. Either way, the result is that the ban was instituted; it was upheld in a court case when it was ruled that “these are military bases and (the) first amendment doesn’t guarantee you access,” according to Rattner (Clinton relaxed the ban for our returning casualties in the bombing of the U.S.S. Cole).
And Lentz also tells us (in supporting the ban)…
For those who argue that the restriction is an attempt to sanitize war and shield the public from its horrors, I have a one-word response: Google. Google "Iraq" or "Afghanistan," and you will find all the horror you want. Watch cable news or read the paper.That is hardly the issue, and I think Lentz does a disservice to everyone by trivializing it this way.
I know that it’s difficult to criticize anyone who has seen combat for their point of view; that is a sacrifice I was not called upon to make, and that goes for both Lentz and Bush Sr. also, I realize. And Lentz’s position of supporting a presumption of privacy that can only be waived by the next of kin may turn out to be a sensible compromise.
But for Lentz’s information, the Disabled American Veterans have called for overturning the ban (here). I think they realize, along with many other people, that the ultimate cost of Dubya’s foul, wretched escapade in Mesopotamia has been kept largely hidden because of what is basically a legal technicality, to say nothing of our now-deposed chief executive’s penchant for finding any means whatsoever to try and squash dissent or even a respectful difference of opinion.
Update: I don't know if this song has ever been more apropos than right now.
Update 2/19/09: What BarbinMD sez here...
Update 2/26/09: Amen.