May 1, 2005

Power Black Out


Apparently, the Administration has lost a bit of visual ground in the effort to sanitize the war.

In response to a second Freedom of Information Act request, the Pentagon has been forced to release the military photos of U.S. war dead dating back to 2001.  The release — in response to a request by professor and former CNN correspondent Ralph  –was honored a year late, and only after a follow-up law suit had been filed. 

To be as obstructionist as possible, however, the Pentagon has provided the raw images without dates, locations or any other identifying information.  In a move almost begging for The Onion or The Daily Show coverage, most faces and insignia in these photos have also been blacked out. 

The excuse for this cynical maneuver is that the participants didn’t consent to the photographs.  However, petitioners in the lawsuit point out that the Pentagon regularly posts images of soldiers on its web site.  That is not to mention that there are dozens of official and quasi-official military sites that regularly post images of soldiers in the field.

To deface (and make anonymous) the portrait of their return seems a strange way to honor the men and women who have died for our country.  If the government would go to these lengths, why document it at all?

(To view the full collection of these truly bizarre photographs, see the National Security Archive site here.)

(image: U.S. Department of Defense, April 29, 2005 in The Los Angeles Times, p.1)

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Michael Shaw
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