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February 20, 2009

Flimsy?

"Granted, the military doesn't see it that way. It says the ban is designed to protect the privacy of military families. This has always seemed a rather flimsy excuse"

I had a punch-the-wall kind of day yesterday. Early in the morning, I had read a column by Leonard Pitts (Thanks, Greyhawk)
and those three lines stuck with me all day. And all night.

Flimsy? Mr. Pitts, are you serious? You think that the military is just paying lip service to supporting their families in order to keep you out of Dover?
You sound like the pimply faced nerd from high school whining about not getting an invitation to the big party on Saturday night. You are definitely not invited but let me assure you, it's not a party.
Far, far from it.

Sacrifice is a cornerstone of being in a military family. I do not want to count how many birthdays, anniversaries, school plays and recitals my husband has missed in order to serve his country. We chose this life and it was understood that sacrifices like these were going to be made. Please don't misunderstand. I am not complaining about my life.

My son also chose this life as a reservist. Instead of going directly to college (he had been accepted, by the way), he had me go to the recruiter's office the day before he graduated from high school, while his father was in Iraq, and days before a memorial service for two Marines from my husband's unit, to sign the paperwork for him to join the Marine Corps. I signed those papers with a shaky hand. It was an admirable choice but one, for a parent, that mixes with worry. In his junior year, his unit was activated and he deployed to Iraq.
Saying goodbye to him that February day was the hardest thing I've ever had to do. I'd said goodbye to my husband many times before and I had always thought that THAT was the hardest thing. I was wrong.
In both cases however, I accepted the possibility that the next time we met might be on that tarmac at Dover.
Most military spouses and parents go through a process called "anticipatory grief". Click on the link and read about it. In our heads, many of us have "been" on that tarmac. Many of us have planned our loved one's funeral.

Many of us have had our hearts race when the doorbell rings a little too early in the morning or when we see something ominous on tv/internet. Many of us look down our street to see if there's an official vehicle waiting for us to return home.

And some of us have seen that vehicle waiting at our house. There is a process in place for those of us who have. It involves a CACO or CAO depending on service branch. It involves a chaplain. It involves telling parents. And children.
What happens next is similiar to what happens in the civilian world. Your neighbors and friends, your co-workers, your pastor, people that you know and know you circle the wagons and insulate and attempt to comfort you as much as possible while you attempt to deal with a most devastating blow. That ultimate sacrifice made by a husband, a wife, a son, a daughter, a father or a mother.

It is clear that the intent behind those who advocate lifting the ban do not take into account the families' grief, do not want to have their wishes considered or even honored. What goes on at Dover is solemn. It fulfills a commitment by the military to those who have made the ultimate sacrifice in service of this country. It fulfills a commitment the military also made to treat the family with the utmost respect and care.

Respect. Care. Words that do not match in any way, shape or form with the behavior of the media towards the military with very few exceptions.

You know what's really flimsy here, Mr. Pitts? The half assed justifications you all in the media are using to get Secretary Gates to lift the ban.

Oh..and your souls.


Posted by at February 20, 2009 07:02 AM

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Comments

Put aside the grieving stepfather's suggestion that this would be a partisan stunt.

Why? Because it *is* a partisan stunt, as Pitts and his ilk have consistently proven every time the ban has been lifted.

Grapple instead with his suggestion that there is something wrong in reminding people ''there is a high cost to be paid'' for war.

Grapple, rather, with the fact that Pitts interprets his suggestion improperly. Grapple, rather, with the MSM showing file photos of the coffins of Challenger's crew and declaring them as Iraqi war dead, merely because there were more coffins than in the casualty flight at Dover. Grapple with Lefties calling for photos for strictly political ends, not to satisfy your scum-sucking need to end a war that's already been won...

Posted by: BillT at February 20, 2009 12:12 PM

Yeah, Bill, I think that's why he took the tact he did in this column.

The military community has decided, as a whole (or close enough), that we won't be fooled again.
And he knows it.

Posted by: Carrie at February 20, 2009 12:26 PM

Pitts is well-named, if you want my opinion. These GODless vultures would think nothing of elbowing their way in front of a grieving family, shout "Freedom of the press" as they strobe light the situation into a freeze frame of flash bulbs and motorized Nikons. This is as close as most of them will ever come to combat, by the way.

I have seen it happen. They have souls...they have just sold them to the highest bidder.

Keep them out and far away...They have no right to intrude.

Posted by: vet66 at February 20, 2009 12:48 PM

What's it like for a military family?

2LT Richard Cowherd.

Posted by: Eau de Locker Room at February 20, 2009 12:56 PM

My doctor recommended that I stop trying to understand Mr. Pitts because, as a farm implement, Mr. Pitts cannot be understood. His "pretty flimsy" comment is just one more crass example of why Mr. Pitts is best suited for use in a stable.

Posted by: spd rdr at February 20, 2009 01:12 PM

John, I remember when you pusted that. I can only say that I have the same reactions now that I did almost four years ago.

Vet, I think you give them too much credit for having souls. I have always heard that vampires do not posess souls.

Spd....I promised Cass that I would not refer to Mr. Pitts as a "flaming colostomy bag" in the post. I did not make the same promise for comments...

Posted by: Carrie at February 20, 2009 01:22 PM

posted. Not pusted. sigh...my eyes hadn't quite cleared yet.

Posted by: Carrie at February 20, 2009 01:23 PM

The correct answer from Mr. Gates should be a very public "HELL NO!"

Then ask for volunteer soldiers and marines to stand guard and let them beat the hell out of anyone who tries to enter.

As a civilian, I can see no reason to let anyone in that the families don't want.

Posted by: Russ at February 20, 2009 02:14 PM

From the cited link:

Cal Peters, who lost a stepson in Afghanistan, and who opposes lifting the ban, told the paper Democrats want to do this ``so they can publicize the negative side of the war and show the American public there is a high cost to be paid here.''

Put aside the grieving stepfather's suggestion that this would be a partisan stunt.

Why? It seems to me that this was in fact the central point of his objection.

Posted by: RonF at February 20, 2009 02:23 PM

I commented on this on my blog, Army Household6. My husband is with the 4ID and is getting ready to leave later this year to go to Afghanistan and we have had the funeral planning talk. I don't want to spend my last moments with my husband with a bunch of journalist/photogs snapping pictures or asking those stupid questions that they love to ask. If God forbid, something happens to my husband and I will of course share his heroic journey and show how proud of him we all are . I just want it to be on MY terms and no one's political gain or a photo op!

The url to my post -- http://armyhousehold6.com/2009/02/15/public-or-private-just-say-no-secretary-gates/

Posted by: Tammy at February 20, 2009 02:29 PM

I have sent Mr. Pitts the following e-mail:

You said:

“Cal Peters, who lost a stepson in Afghanistan, and who opposes lifting the ban, told the paper Democrats want to do this ``so they can publicize the negative side of the war and show the American public there is a high cost to be paid here.'' Put aside the grieving stepfather's suggestion that this would be a partisan stunt.”

Why? How do you justify that? Setting it aside and then taking part of his comment and treating it as if it was his main point is precisely the manipulation of information for partisan advantage that is the main point of his objection!

The body of a loved one belongs to the family, not you and not us. Once the body is under the control of the family then they have the right to release images if they so choose – and many do and have. Until then it’s the military’s duty to protect their right to privacy. There are plenty of pictures of flag-covered caskets already to print if you feel the need to do so.

Posted by: RonF at February 20, 2009 02:34 PM

Good for you Ron! Your last paragraph pretty much sums it up.

Me, I'm exceedingly angry with the ghouls and I'm having a heck of a struggle to rein in my inner Neanderthal.

"It is an ill-considered assault not simply on the public's right to know, but on its need."
What an effin moron. Right to know? Need to know? Know what? What the coffin containing this nations finest looks like draped in the flag Pitts, Ayers and their ilk are so fond of degrading or burning?

That the arrogant jackarse thinks that his access trumps the survivors privacy tells me all I need to know. Does this jackarse expect me or any other person not attempting to use this intrusion to partisan advantage, to believe that there is there anyone in this nation over the age of 10 and otherwise unimpaired with a cognitive challenge, that can not image the cost of freedom? It's good that the imagery my imagination conjures is not on public display.

The shallow, unimaginative, ghoul seem to need more than words to convey the message. Surely indicative of a glaring deficiency in the mastery of his craft. And I use the phrase mastery of his craft with the most sarcastic emphasis that I can muster.

I've gotta say that I hope my investments do not evaporate. I have a growing sense that I may be needing them for bail and representation.


Posted by: bt_time-for-Decency-and-Common-Sense_hun at February 20, 2009 03:08 PM

As a retired Marine with 28 years of service, with a son on active duty, this stupid editorial hits me on so many emotional levels that I can't add any words of wisdom.

But I can pick a nit--Carrie, the word is "tack" (from sailing) and not "tact."

Posted by: Rex at February 20, 2009 03:11 PM

I'm with Bthun. That last paragraph was superb, Ron.

Posted by: Carrie at February 20, 2009 03:13 PM

Yeah, Rex....I edited and edited and still missed things.
Call it being in the heat of the moment. Thanks.

Posted by: Carrie at February 20, 2009 03:14 PM

Carrie, your only mistake was reading Pitts - I gave up on him long ago.

But, I agree wholeheartedly with the sentiments here. Some families have released images from their loved one's final redeployment - and they are moving images, indeed. But, it should be totally up to the family. Let the vultures continue to circle - never let them land.

Posted by: Gerald at February 20, 2009 04:29 PM

The real cost of war - that is what those who seek to open Dover to media coverage want to "show"? And they want to show this by mediatizing (no this is not a known word, one I made up to be tactful) Flag Draped Caskets. Well, come and live my life and drive 70 miles one way to tend your son's grave; watch a teenage daughter cry and grieve for her brother even three plus years out; imagine the day this sister graduates and her brother will not be there to cheer for her and he will not be there to chase away her first boyfriend; he will not be there to give his younger brother advice bout women, or missing some of the rough spots of becoming a man; there will never be these words "hey uncle Mike, watch me..."; there will never be a day when a child of his will say "daddy's home... or hey grandaddy, grandmother, uncle Wes, or aunt Abbey..."; and he will not be there to look after Retta and I, nor will he even get a chance to shed a tear at our graves...

Come see what it is like to see given and have given a lifetime of love, yet see it given proudly, with the special privilege of sacrifice we have been asked to bear, as soldier and his family. A sacrifice no family wants, but if not borne by us, then who should bear it in our place?

That is just the tip of the real cost of war, but then, it isn't as media glitzy as making a spectacle out of the Flag Draped Casket of our fallen so the media corporate bottom line can be made black by dishonoring the spilled Red Blood of our fallen heroes.

NO TO THE MEDIA AT DOVER - KEEP THE GATES CLOSED, for is it too much to ask for our fallen and their families to have that first moment of coming home to be on their terms and for their eyes only?

proud dad SGT MIKE STOKELY
KIA 16 AUG 05 near Yusufiyah Iraq
USA E 108 CAV 48th BCT GAARNG

Posted by: robert stokely at February 20, 2009 04:37 PM

Carrie, I will be sending you some personal Thoughts...I can't do it here not only for space and other, less polite considerations, but also to reference the right of the family to privacy.
For me, it is a different context and the media's having a circus with it.

Posted by: Cricket at February 20, 2009 05:27 PM

From another war, another time. And a bitter war this was to many more mothers and fathers than today's war is:

I feel how weak and fruitless must be any word of mine which should attempt to beguile you from the grief of a loss so overwhelming. But I cannot refrain from tendering you the consolation that may be found in the thanks of the Republic (they) died to save.

I pray that our Heavenly Father may assuage the anguish of your bereavement, and leave you only the cherished memory of the loved and lost, and the solemn pride that must be yours to have laid so costly a sacrifice upon the altar of freedom.

Yours, very sincerely and respectfully,

A. Lincoln
*********************************

How did we get from this, to the NOW, where those people (such as Mr. Pitts) are so eager to intrude on someone else's grief and loss. What has become of us, as a people?

Posted by: Don Brouhaha at February 20, 2009 05:29 PM

"What has become of us, as a people?"
My opinion in a nutshell; The Great Society, implemented and aided by career politicians and bureaucrats, has continually sought to normalize the lowest common denominator. All in order to build a power base while maintaining a nonjudgmental and in some cases an advocacy position, e.g. it's all good.

This is done to avoid the imposition of any condemnation, much less constraint, for fear of harming the cretin's self-esteem. And that seems to be the Great Society's guiding principle, regardless of the severity of the cretin's despicable actions or their impact upon the greater, read common, good.

If you doubt that, consider the sentences meted out by our legal system and time served by those convicted of violent felonies as see in this US DOJ statistical table for 2004. From conviction to probation, the average time served for murder is 61 months!

To protect and defend... for the common good... And from my perspective, it appears to be very badly broken when the consequences for the criminal perp's are far and away less detrimental than those suffered by the victim.

My opinion, your mileage may vary...

Apologies for the rant.

Posted by: bt_time-for-Decency-and-Common-Sense_hun at February 20, 2009 06:12 PM

My mileage may suck, but my conscience is clear.
And I'll walk if need be to sustain it.

Posted by: spd rdr at February 20, 2009 06:56 PM

"My mileage may suck, but my conscience is clear."
I would have little doubt that your conscience would be clear Mr. Rdr. Just I will accept no guilt for the election of the 44th POTUS or the sitting Congress.

I may be mistaken, knowing of you only through what I read here, but I do not have the impression that you are a career politician or bureaucrat. Or an enabler of progressive ideals, nor a liberal judge of the 9th circuit flavor.

But then my feeble attempts to state my Old Testament influenced thoughts are often ballparked to the degree that some might read offense where I mean none. But so it goes when someone such as me attempts to peck out an opinion in brief on a subject as broad as

”How did we get from this, to the NOW, where those people (such as Mr. Pitts) are so eager to intrude on someone else's grief and loss. What has become of us, as a people?”

Posted by: bt_time-for-Decency-and-Common-Sense_hun at February 20, 2009 07:48 PM

Great post here!!

Would you like to have a Link Exchange with our blog COMMON CENTS where we blog about the issues of the day???

http://www.commoncts.blogspot.com

Posted by: Steve at February 20, 2009 09:39 PM

Easy on there, bt. I was only stating my own impressions, and I borrowed a hint from your words to do so. No offense meant. Same side, said differently, but the same truth nonetheless. I apologize if it came out otherwise. I am occasionally blind.

Posted by: spd rdr at February 20, 2009 10:26 PM

Mr. Rdr, You most certainly did not offend... I thought that I might have caused an affront, where none was intended, with my bemoaning our society's current state of tolerance and justice.

In my mind it is easy to imagine another person trying to interpret my scribble without their having the South Sumerian Bubba Rosetta Stone and Hill-William Concordance handy.

And from there it's no great stretch to imagine the person coming away scratching their head if not flexing their fist. And I only wish that condition upon those I intend to offend.

Posted by: bt_time-for-Decency-and-Common-Sense_hun at February 21, 2009 11:09 AM

Those who think it it their "right", who fail to understand that these are private moments, and are our family need to have the other shoe drop.

Let's show THEIR family members' photos, stip away THEIR privacy, intrude on THEIR grief, make THEIR loss a public specatacle. Isn't that OUR right, if what they say is true?

Pitts needs a size 9 boot in the ass. He is a first class whiner, as well as a bigoted apologist and yet another one who believes he is entitled.

Sec'y Gates and anyone else in a position of authority needs to clearly and forcefully tell these vultures to hit the trail. Not "no, we have no plans to allow coverage", but "HELL NO. YOU HAVE NO RIGHT TO INTRUDE ON THESE PRIVATE MOMENTS OF GRIEF."

CW4

Posted by: CW4 at February 21, 2009 11:45 AM

"Let's show THEIR family members' photos, stip away THEIR privacy, intrude on THEIR grief, make THEIR loss a public specatacle. Isn't that OUR right, if what they say is true?"
Even if we were to adopt their tactics, provided we were able to dispose of our conscience long enough to do so, I have a sneaking suspicion that it would have little genuine impact on the Ed Henry and Leonard Pitts of the world.

But then again, I'd not be willing to bet against their suddenly adopting a right to privacy stance when it puts the hides of their scurrilous character under the scope. Principled purveyors of righteousness that they are.

It is interesting, at least to me, to think on how the old Beatles song I, me, mine so accurately describes the sense of self manifest in media's hired hands.

That Henry, Pitts and the rest who feel entitled to encroach yet can not have their way, the delusional fantasy of their right to know, their need to know, I would borrow a phrase from Pitts, cry me a river.

Posted by: bt_time-for-Decency-and-Common-Sense_hun at February 21, 2009 02:25 PM

Pitts needs a size 9 boot in the ass.

Won't get his attention as well as a size 13...

Posted by: BillT at February 21, 2009 03:47 PM

Dear bt_time-for-Decency-and-Common-Sense_hun (wow, that's a mouthful),

In your response, you said: "Even if we were to adopt their tactics, provided we were able to dispose of our conscience long enough to do so, I have a sneaking suspicion that it would have little genuine impact on the Ed Henry and Leonard Pitts of the world." And in all honesty, I have to admit that your have the correctness of deceny working in your favor on the issue.

The problem is, as in war, as in negotiations, as in anything that requires ethics, that it requires both parties to be on the same plane. For us (whoever we are - military, military spouses, dependents, other relatives) to allow or permit the "other side" (whoever they may be) to do as they see fit to invade our space, our privacy, our grief, and work it to their advantage....well, is that a principled response?

I say it is not. For us to take the moral high ground is a good thing; to allow them to surround us and plan for our destruction is not.

I can't remember who said it, but I have always believed that you can negotiate with a reasonable person. Most nutroots and wingnuts suffering with incurable ABDS are unreasonable. I will give them a chance to prove me wrong, but so far, I have been right far more often than wrong.....

No geotiation. Kick butt, take names. No eraser allowed or needed.

Kevin

Posted by: CW4 at February 21, 2009 03:59 PM

I can't argue with

"For us (whoever we are - military, military spouses, dependents, other relatives) to allow or permit the "other side" (whoever they may be) to do as they see fit to invade our space, our privacy, our grief, and work it to their advantage....well, is that a principled response?"
that Kevin.

But I don't think we need to use their tactics against them. At least not yet. We should be able to persuade the powers that be to rebut their nonsense on the grounds of honor, decency and respect for our fallen and their loved ones.

Who in a position of power, particularly public figures, wants to have their honor and decency questioned? It saps their moral authority and their ability to lead. Whether those are genuine attributes of the public official or not, they wish to maintain the appearance. We should be able to use that to secure the privacy and dignity of our fallen warriors and their survivors.

If it ever does come to root hog or die in our Republic, let's just say that I'm locked and loaded.

And I'll cover the middle with my 11.5's. Until then I'll write and call the officials, elected, appointed or otherwise, to give them one more old vets opinion.

Posted by: bthun at February 21, 2009 04:28 PM

I was reading Neptunus Rex's take on this issue, and I believe it too, is worth pondering....

"Those coming home through Dover volunteered in a great cause, believing that the land that gave them birth was worth defending, that freedom was worth extending. The gave all that they had, and all they ever would have in that cause, even unto the utmost measure. To picture them standing tall in ranks is to do honor to the service they performed. But to picture them in rows of flag-covered caskets is to dehumanize them, to make numbers of them, to make a political argument. It’s pornographic.

After what they gave to us, the least we can do is afford them and their families one final shred of human dignity."

That is way beyond the cognative skills of a Leonard Pitts and so many other "urinalists", as my Norwegian Grandfather called jouranlists. It's all about...what is it all about Mr. Pitts? Ethics? Integrity? What?

And please forgive me for my previous typos. I am a better proofreader than typist....

CW4

Posted by: CW4 at February 21, 2009 04:58 PM

However you feel about the war I think any reasonable person realizes the high cost. How could you hear about casulties and not realize somewhere there are people crushed by it?

Would any rational person need to see those pictures to understand that? I think not. I don't really believe these people have an agenda either. They are simply voyeurs, and are attempting to justify it.

Posted by: Allen at February 21, 2009 05:28 PM

I think we're all in agreement that the intrusion proposed by Henry, Pitts et al. is beyond the pale or even the capability of the most cynical folk with the smallest shred of decency or respect to reconcile.

But in thinking of those who would intrude for political reasons, for career advancement, voyeurism or just some morbid desire, I was reminded of Colonel Jeff Cooper and a fellow named "Gerhardt". Col. Cooper spoke of this man in his book, "To Ride, Shoot Straight, and Speak the Truth". And having just reread of "Gerhardt" recently in the Dillon Precision Products - The Blue Press periodical, the tale strikes me as being appropriate to times like these.

Anyway, during a conversation between Col. Cooper and "Gerhardt" the philosophical question of how many good men could be expected per 100 came up.

Cooper reckoned one. "Gerhardt" asserted that the actual percentage was, much, much lower.

To make his case, "Gerhardt" told of when he was a German soldier. More specifically of when he was a Waffen SS Trooper and had been captured by the Soviets, sometime near the end of the war. "Gerhardt" and about 30,000 other German soldiers were sent to a Soviet labor camp, or death camp if you are the pragmatic sort.

This is where the tale told by "Gerhardt" and relayed by Col. Cooper gets very interesting, at least for me.

As I recall, discussions of escape amongst the German prisoners took place. The Germans decided that the Soviet guards were not of the same caliber as most of the captured German soldiers. The was no denying that the German troops were battle tested, hardened, capable and disciplined troopers compared to the recently off the farm, sloven and generally unprofessional Soviet troopers that were assigned as their camp guards.

"Gerhardt" and a few other plotters determined that if only 200 of the 30,000 imprisoned Germans would volunteer to fight, even unarmed, they could overcome the guards and gain control of the camp. This would allow them to plan the next phase of their escape.

In the end, only 10 men were willing to stand up.

Needless to say, "Gerhardt" seized the opportunity when it presented itself and managed a solo escape. It was an ordeal that, in the end, took approximately a year and a half. An interesting part of the tale in itself.

But to the point, this makes me wonder about how many of our citizens are willing take a stand that entails risk? Even when they know that the failure to stand will mean their ultimate end and maybe the end of all that is dear to them.

We all must decide where our loyalty and duty lies and make the choice to stand, or not.

Fortunately I'm convinced that the percentage of courageous souls in this nation is much greater than was found to be the case among the German captives.

Write and call your Senators, your congress person, the White House, SecDef Gates, the local newspapers, the advertisers in those papers and anyone else you can think of. That requires very little from any of us, but by doing so, I know that the jackals attempted exploitation of the fallen will not stand.

Ok, I confess that this is a hot button for me, but I'll hush now.

Posted by: bthun at February 21, 2009 07:05 PM

Imagine for a moment the type of paparazzi coverage at Dover we now witness in Hollywood and Europe.

That is all we need, paparazzi covering the military. This should be an easy one for Gates.

Posted by: vet66 at February 21, 2009 07:15 PM

Well, I'm going to step on some friends' toes with this, but....

I need those pictures. Not for voyeurism or anything like that. I have two necessities: 1) History for future gens 2) Co-opting the media to deal with the reality that winning a war requires them(all that public support in WW2 enjoyed major stoking by the media. Sans Pearl Harbor the thing that changed US opinion the most about Nazi Germany and involvement in WW2 was a little film called Casablanca....and all the work hollywood put into trying to change US opinion----lots of it being done by Ford the director not the car magnate).

Historically: so when someone like Kagan says we should invade Burma/Mynamar because the gov't there won't allow aid in--- or some Madeline Albright type making--- one can point to these photos and ask, "Is it worth this? If not, sit down and shut up."

Reality: we need to end the antagonistic relationship between the media and the military. THis is the cost. THe ending of the antagonism is a freakin' necessity.(And if you disagree I assert you've not been paying attention to history.)

I don't like it, but that's how it is.

We send these people out to die out of necessity, we impose the great sense of loss out of necessity, but now, despite necessity, it's the Bridge at Remagen?

I'm sorry it hurts, Dear Cass and Unka Chief, but that's how gollum sees it. (and the flame warriors can premptively go to hell for all I care)

Posted by: ry at February 21, 2009 11:44 PM

We send these people out to die out of necessity, we impose the great sense of loss out of necessity, but now, despite necessity, it's the Bridge at Remagen?

Thing is, ry, we don't send them out to die -- we send them to defend us by bringing the fight to the enemy, and, sometimes, they die. Sometimes they die in combat, sometimes they die in dumb accidents, and sometimes they simply die.

Knowing you, the above is what you *meant* to say.

And, knowing you, you've oversimplified again. The military doesn't have an adversarial relationship with the press *per se*. Individual reporters understand the relationship and the importance of both OPSEC and maintaining some decorum; "uniforms" understand the reporter's job is to get information and disseminate it as a news story, and that a photographer's job is to take pictures that tell a story which might otherwise need a book to tell.

Thing is, there's no *need* to take photographs at Dover. There are thousands of file photos of the flag-draped coffins in the interiors of C-141s and C-5s and C-130s and B737s -- *thousands* of photos, most of which have been used to drum up opposition to a fight that they can't even admit *must* take place. Pitts and his fellow whiners believe they have the right to photograph every casualty flight, not because doing that will somehow "increase the honor we pay them" but merely because "it illustrates the high cost of war."

When they *had* access, they turned Dover into a circus -- I know, because I watched them do it while I was on the transit refuel ramp. Did they take the photos and write stories in praise of the courage and sacrifice of the dead and those they left behind? No. They wrote instead about the "high cost" of a war they personally viewed as immoral and unnecessary and attacked a President whom they *personally* disliked.

It's not the Bridge at Remagen at all -- it's the thornbush placed in front of the village gate to keep the hyenas from entering.

Posted by: BillT at February 22, 2009 01:46 AM

BTW, if they *really* want to honor the troops and show the high cost of war, why aren't they clamoring to interview the wounded at Walter Reed and Bethesda and chronicling their journeys to recovery?

Posted by: BillT at February 22, 2009 01:55 AM

Ry,
Nowhere in your comments do I see a mention of the family's wishes? You're saying that your "need" to see those pictures trumps their wishes?
How about the servicmember's wishes? My husband would absolutely not have wanted them at Dover.
His wishes don't count either?

Are you really saying that the military is the only profession where, even after you have given the ultimate, you still owe the country something more?
Bull.hockey.
By the way, I wrote the post, not Cass. She's busy this weekend.

Posted by: Carrie at February 22, 2009 09:03 AM

"The needs of the many outweigh the needs of the few, or the one."

IOW, when you join the military you become the only segment of society that has no rights. These people aren't human and aren't entitled to the same elementary consideration (let alone respect for common decency) as the people they "serve".

So what if you wouldn't want the press to photograph your wife's coffin or her bloody corpse? "Those people" lost any right to expect to be treated the same way you would when they donned the uniform.

Posted by: Cassandra at February 22, 2009 09:35 AM

Also, where does your "need" stop Ry?

Since you've conveniently dispensed with the idea that military families are owed the same consideration you are, that argument no longer flies.

Anonymous, flag draped coffins don't have the same visual impact as, say, a close-up of a dead or dying person on the battlefield. To see the true cost of war, we "need" to see the worst: the writhing soldier on a stretcher half out of his mind with pain.

The graphic shots of my husband - or someone else's - choking to death on his own blood, up on the Internet forever for his children or his eldery mother to see.

There will always be someone who says they have needs.

And then there's what I thought was our common decency and humanity, but apparently these things, too have fallen by the wayside.

Posted by: Cassandra at February 22, 2009 09:45 AM

bthun,
It's a hot button issue for so many of us.

Posted by: Carrie at February 22, 2009 09:45 AM

I know that is so Carrie. I am just a bit embarrassed at myself by going on and on. As Bill points out,

"Did they take the photos and write stories in praise of the courage and sacrifice of the dead and those they left behind? No. They wrote instead about the "high cost" of a war they personally viewed as immoral and unnecessary and attacked a President whom they *personally* disliked."
And who can doubt that their work would contain the smears of loose canon, crazed, baby killer, etc. that it did when folks like Bill, vet66 and I were spring chickens, were it not for a goodly hunk of the US saying not again.

That in my estimation is the only difference today. That a lot of people recall the behavior of the left and the participation of the news media. So the reporters and journalists are more restrained by the exceedingly large number of been there, done that, bought the fish-wrap once but never again.

Now to give CWCID, I watched Taking Chance on HBO last night and thought it was excellent.

And since I've said my piece and a good deal more, I'll really hush now.

Posted by: bthun at February 22, 2009 11:29 AM

I just meant that I understand why you need to speak about it. 'Cause I can't stop myself either. It's too important not to speak out clearly and forcefully. Having spoken with someone at the SecDef's office, the letters are being read. A friend spoke to someone else in that office and was told that the blogs are being read too. We were to keep it up.

Lifting the ban is so wrong on so many levels and the only reasons for lifting the ban are superficial at best and disgusting if one were to be honest about the motivations.

It feels like the worst kind of violation.

Posted by: Carrie at February 22, 2009 11:39 AM

Ry, speaking from one who knows first hand about that, especially as a parent, there are some things that have to steel your resolve rather than break it. We have held the line in Iraq precisely because of that resolve and in spite of the price.

But to see the pictures and to open it to the public could weaken support for this, which is precisely what the anti-war press wants.

I have a different agenda for the press that I emailed to Carrie because the military fights for what is right.

I am going to hush. Carrie, I hope I didn't scare you.

Posted by: Cricket at February 22, 2009 11:42 AM

BTW, Comcast is not charging anything to watch "Taking Chance" in their On Demand section for anybody who doesn't have HBO (like me).

Maybe I'll watch it this afternoon.

Posted by: Carrie at February 22, 2009 11:43 AM

You did not at all, Cricket. I have just been struggling with the words to reply to it.

Posted by: Carrie at February 22, 2009 11:45 AM

And who can doubt that their work would contain the smears of loose canon, crazed, baby killer, etc. that it did when folks like Bill, vet66 and I were spring chickens, were it not for a goodly hunk of the US saying not again.

"Drug-crazed babykiller" was one of the milder things I was called -- rather ironic, considering the source of the accusations -- which is one reason I'm adamantly part of that goodly hunk of the US...

Posted by: BillT at February 22, 2009 01:06 PM

As a frequent interloper and dumbass on these pages, I beg your forgiveness for the following remarks.

The issue here, as I see it, is not whether there should be photographic evidence of those young men and women who are returned to their United States draped in the flag of the nation for which they selflessly defended and, utlimately, gave they lives. On the contrary, such evidence should be enshrined forever in our nation's memory. As A. Lincoln once so laconically remarked at another place long ago, it is "altogether fitting and proper" that we make such an effort to remember those sacrifices endured by our countrymen on our behalf.

The return of our countrymen who have persished in our name should not be hidden, but accepted as a shining fulfillment of the honor and duty that they pledged to this Nation.

But what is at issue here is not whether the photographs of the returning caskets of these fallen soldiers, marines, sailors, and airmen are reverential, historical, or informational, but rather as the exploitation of these visual representations by a commercial enterprise (the "news") to further (1) its commercial interests, and/or (2) further/enhance the political interests of those this commercial enterprise supports, surpasses the bounds of good taste.

If you just threw up in your mouth, you are now eligible to join my club.

Posted by: spd rdr at February 22, 2009 02:55 PM

We don't exist.

Posted by: spd's editor and proofreader at February 22, 2009 03:15 PM

bthun;

The elitists have already quietly promulgated a word that describes their opinion of us. It is called the "BUBBA Effect" and also shows their weakness. They hope the soothing talk of "hopeandchange" from BHO will be the soporific that controls our behavior. That and the promise of shiny things to distract us while they make their moves.

You wouldn't believe what the progressives make of the increase in the purchase of weapons and ammunition since the Obamessiah took over. I tell them it was probably just the low prices that brought everybody out to stock up their personal armory. I don't know if that made them feel better but I tried.

Posted by: vet66 at February 22, 2009 04:50 PM

I see the AP just ran an article (Hit Piece) on the Army Emergency Relief (AER) regarding it being stingy and poorly run while pressuring the troops to donate to it.

First Dover now the Army and AER. How much does it take to present a pattern?

Posted by: vet66 at February 22, 2009 05:11 PM

"The elitists have already quietly promulgated a word that describes their opinion of us. It is called the "BUBBA Effect" and also shows their weakness."
And that is why I embrace the Bubba and/or Redneck moniker. You are known by not only your friends, but also those you oppose.

I have long since chosen my place in life and with those I would willingly associate. And I am comfortable with my choices.

Posted by: bthun at February 22, 2009 05:32 PM

Can we do a hit piece on liberals' favorite charities? You know, the ones that tucked their tails between their collective tuckii and ran off?
Please?

AER poorly run? uhhh...sure.

I benefitted years ago from AER and repaid the loan. Not only that, when we were in need again, they came through and we repaid them again.

AER is not welfare; it isn't meant to be. It is meant to help soldiers over a rough patch with the understanding that if you need *further* assistance, you will talk to first the chaplain, then the CO and then either AFAP or the FRG leader.

Been there done that on both sides of the house as a recipient and an FRG leader.

NEXT!

Posted by: Cricket at February 22, 2009 05:47 PM

Miss Carrie,

At 1143, you entered the following:

"BTW, Comcast is not charging anything to watch "Taking Chance" in their On Demand section for anybody who doesn't have HBO (like me).

Maybe I'll watch it this afternoon.

Posted by: Carrie at February 22, 2009 11:43 AM"

I would suggest you be prepared to deal with lumps in your throat and some kind of allergy attack. My eyes got wet.

The escort duty is not as tough as being the CACO/CAO, but you are the face of the the service when you get to the destination. I was once an escort (peacetime accidental death), and it was very difficult. I was fortunate that the family had spent most of their energy and emotion on the CACO and Chaplain, but still it was tough.

Posted by: kbob in Katy at February 22, 2009 06:15 PM

After reading some of the subsequent comments I realize I might have chosen the wrong word, that is voyeurism.

But, I don't know how else to describe it. I do know that the premise that "the public needs to know the cost" is false. Why not photograph coffins of other people to show the high cost of other things?

The public needs a visual image of coffins due to car crashes.

The public needs a visual image of coffins due to mining accidents.

The public needs a visual image of coffins due to murder.

The public needs a visual image of coffins due to suicide.

And so on, and so on.

Granted, I may be mistaken about the exact nature of why they want this, but I can still recognize a corrupt mind when I see it.

Posted by: Allen at February 22, 2009 07:36 PM

I have to say, Cass, you're a bit out here. I've been in situations where photos were taken of dead people where the family had no say, and, guess what, they weren't of milpers. Avg Moe. One of them was Yujiro Shidara who got hit by a stupid punk kid and had his insides turned into patee. So, no, Dear Cass, I'm not buying this one. Fires, disasters, muggins, shootings, you name it, all have the photo taken REGARDLESS OF WISHES. Life sucks. Life isn't fair. I didn't make it that way. I just try to make the best of it.

AS for the 'need never ends', argument. Actually, that's a fallcy being employed. Reductio ad absurdum. I have very strict parameters which underwhich I find something true necessity instead of just something I meerly want. Winning in Iraq is a necessity, is it not? Well, you need a press that doesn't cut everything at the knees to undermine it, don't you? To get that, well, I've gotta shake hands with the devils to get that. I'd rather not. I'd rather line them all up and shoot them all in the neck. But, I didn't just pull 'necessity' as a stand in for 'what I want'.

And we'll need them for Afstan. ANd the war after that and the war after that. I've seen reports lately, thru various channels, of what Depts Navy and Army---and based on those reports, which I can't cite since it'd piss off one of the souces who I'm within arms reach at the moment, I'm going to have to disagree, Unk---- think future wars will look like and what an enemy will focus on. It's no secret that the strategic center will be the homefront and not the milpers themselves.

ANd before people get ll indignant, remember, I've got a buddy who's someone I've known 29 of my 34 years. We're practically brothers. He's on his 4th tour. SGT. James Moran, USMC. I've got other friends who went to West Point who still go outside the wire. It's not like I'm just a policy wonk---though I am definitely wonkish.

Which is why I don't comment about a family's wishes. It's irrelevant from a policy perspective. If I have to trample on a family's feelings to win The Long War, sorry, I'll dance the Mexican Hat Dance all day long. I'm ruthless that way, because one has to be to commit troops to war in the first place. (WHich is where I think you're wrong Unk, you're sending men to die. All that differs is the total and the proportions. That's war, that's SASO, That's MOOTW, you name it. It's the first rule you have to accept. Sending men to war is sending some nunmber X to die. Period. Officers, family members wishes, NOTHING, can change that. THis is usually done in a rule #1 and rule #2 rhetorical device.).

I mean, really, nobody asked the Marines sent to Beirut families whether it was okay. It's understood as 'Hey, you signed up for this." I'm saying the hard truth, 'Hey, you signed up for this,' in this instance too. War is politics by other means. Milpers are tools of the nation-state. I'll use them as I have to to attain that political goal, winning the Long War, regardless of it breaking hearts. It's callous. I don't deny it. But it's necessary.

I mean, really, objectively, what's the diff between these pictures and Mike Yon's award winner? Did anyone ask that little girl's family? I don't think so. And yet we, many of us on this same board, use that shot habitualy----because it's a useful tool of sending the message we want in a political conflict of wills, a.k.a. War.

I mean, really, some chucklehead is saying I have a corrupt mind? Heh. Fine, when I have the nightmare of the Taiwanese girl asking me why I let the PRC invade her country and rape her only to have the same girl in a different nightmare accuse me of killiing her so the Mainland CHinese couldn't have something as meaningless as land I'll tell her to go to your subconscious because you've got all this stuff figures out and you've gone over the ethical problems of conflict so thuroughly that it's not a problem for you. Or, could it be, well, gee, things aren't so frickin' simple in the real world? Nah. (See wwhat I wrote about war and people dying and the unavoidability of that? Might want to cogitate on that a bit before saying anyone's corrupt, homeboy. Otherwise, go to hell.)

SPD hits at what I think many of you are angry about: not the image itself, but the context. Nobody's in arms about Mike Yon's photo; but people were indignant about Mike Moore's use. It's the context that matters. Nobody jumped Unka Bill for his comment about using the coffins as a means of furthering the perspective of 'we're the good guys/honor our war dead'. Why not? IT's a context most of us happen to like. It's not the photos. It's the stories that come with it. I remember when this came up before and LT Nixon laid out PAO reasons for doing this and how one could leverage access to get more favoable/less anti-war contexts, and some of you jumped down his throat and called him traitor.

Maybe it's 'cause I'm clinical? Maybe.

I think SecDef Gates wouldn't be wrong to change policy despite the feelings of the families. War's are going to be generation in length when we step outside the First Tier. TO maintain that requires a press that can stoke and keep stoked national ardor for a given conflict. These photos can serve that purpose in ways no other means CAN---remember the Sullivans?--- and hence the policy makes sense on those grounds to change.

And Carrie, I didn't include you because I don't know you. Ask Cass, or better yet, ask John and Unka Bill, I'm actually a pretty decent guy. IT's not tht I don't care, more that I wouldn't presume the right to say something like that to you. Cass and I have a little history so I felt fine saying that to her. Unlike some people, I actually read authorship tags.

No, Cass, those anony. coffins don't have the same impact as true battlefield shots. But having recent ones is more potent than stock. IT hits at a persons mind that 'this is real, this is really happening'.

And as for the 'photos of x,y,z'. It's already been done. Lungs of cigarette smokers being shown on tv. "Red Asphalt." "Scared Straight." Hell, if anyone wants I can find the autopsy photos of Yujiro who had his innards turned to jelly after being hit by some idjit speeding on I-65 that made their way into a paper without anyone asking his widow, Emiko, anything about it---and I know because I was the one handling all of that stuff for her. So, yeah, you chap my hide with that sanctimony, Dear Lady. A lot. It happens to everyone, not just milpers. But milpers would have it for a real purpose, as would milfam. Unlike peon Normals like Emiko and I who're just the human interest story of the week. I mean, really. I've listed what guides me in saying 'necessity' instead of 'wants', and that's from DoN and DoA studies as to what it will take to win these brushwars, it's the Doctrine writers and Warfighters themselves saying it is necessary.

Sorry. But that's where we sees it.

Posted by: ry at February 22, 2009 11:53 PM

No, Cass, those anony. coffins don't have the same impact as true battlefield shots. But having recent ones is more potent than stock. IT hits at a persons mind that 'this is real, this is really happening'.

True enough, and if all journos were like Mike Yon, this controversy wouldn't even exist. The issue is not with the MSM taking the pictures -- it's with the *use* of those pictures to advance the personal agenda of ending a war solely because the POTUS is someone they personally hate.

Yes, I *know* there's a new POTUS. The MSM is still stuck on "It's Bush's war," and they will continue to hammer the theme that troops are dying for no good reason. They will also label photos of troops killed in *Afghanistan* as having been killed in Iraq -- don't tell me they won't, because they've already done it.

Fine, when I have the nightmare of the Taiwanese girl asking me why I let the PRC invade her country and rape her only to have the same girl in a different nightmare accuse me of killiing her so the Mainland CHinese couldn't have something as meaningless as land...

Land may be meaningless, but wars are usually started to gain control of the people who live on that land -- they have a political objective, not just a geographical one. Try this nightmare on for size -- half a thousand North Vietnamese families surrounding me and asking me why I killed their sons merely because they were trying to unite two countries. My answer is that if those sons hadn't been killing *South* Vietnamese families -- including little girls -- I might have spared them.

Your nightmare seems kind of tame in comparison. Wanna trade?

Posted by: BillT at February 23, 2009 12:55 AM

Ry, that is precisely the point. The context of the MSM has been anything but honest or objective.
It has been objectionable, and to trust a snake when he asks you to pick him up knowing what it is is pointless.

Calling Micheal Moore 'context?' I couldn't even dignify his lies with 'warped perception.' It has to do with telling the truth about the war, why we are there and what we hope to accomplish. The media has not done that in nearly six years.

Posted by: Cricket at February 23, 2009 07:58 AM

"And Carrie, I didn't include you because I don't know you. Ask Cass, or better yet, ask John and Unka Bill, I'm actually a pretty decent guy"

I did not point out that I wrote the post to be included as a friend, Ry, just that I had written the post.
You may very well be a decent guy and if you feel that strongly about Sec. Gates lifting the ban then you owe it to yourself to contact your congressman and Senators and let them know.

Just be aware that I am going to work twice as hard to make sure the ban stays in place. It is that important to me.

Posted by: Carrie at February 23, 2009 08:21 AM

Perhaps someone can explain to me just exactly what information a photo of a casket conveys to anyone who isn't brain dead?

We all know people die in war.

We're reminded of this every single day.

The people who are arguing for lifting this ban argue that people don't care *enough* - that people who are REMINDED EVERY SINGLE DAY need to be shocked out of their complacency even if this causes additional shock and pain to bereaved families. Well I have news for you - a photo of a flag draped coffin ISN'T SHOCKING to a society that has already mainstreamed graphic violence and sadistic, dehumanizing pornography.

We have no shock left in us, and no outrage.

But hey - just let us photograph your dead, and we'll change. We'll start to care.

Bullshit.

Posted by: Cassandra at February 23, 2009 10:59 AM

Folks;

One of the motivations of these erstwhile seekers-of-truth is the rewrite of history. We had a discussion here last year where the subject of military being spat upon by protesters with the usual chorus of anti-war slogans as accompaniment.

The big story was that it "never happened" in their attempt to rewrite history. I remember being told that some folks in third world countries don't like their pictures taken because it steals their soul. I can, and have made, a good case exposing the media's attempt to rewrite history to suit their world view and steal the souls of those who answered a higher calling.

That is how history is rewritten and absolution denied to those who served and died on the altar of freedom. My final proof is to read modern textbooks and see how they cover the fight for freedom. Only the willfully ignorant and obtuse could fail to see the possibilities of the proposed spiritual rape caused by the reopening of Dover to 'mongrel' hordes clammoring at the gates with their cameras.

Just say no!

Posted by: vet66 at February 23, 2009 11:01 AM

"But hey - just let us photograph your dead, and we'll change. We'll start to care.

Bullshit."

Bullseye.

Posted by: bthun at February 23, 2009 11:08 AM

"Well, you need a press that doesn't cut everything at the knees to undermine it, don't you?"
America doesn't have one. Next!

"And we'll need them for Afstan. ANd the war after that and the war after that."
Why? Because of the bang-up "clear and objective job" they have done with Iraq, Afghanistan, Somalia, et al? There's an old saying about the first step in avoiding a trap is knowing of it's existence in the first place. If it looks like dogshit and smells like dogshit....well....and, IMNSAO, I'd say the MSM have been *overly-fragrant* for years now.

"Which is why I don't comment about a family's wishes. It's irrelevant from a policy perspective. If I have to trample on a family's feelings to win The Long War, sorry, I'll dance the Mexican Hat Dance all day long." Really? To what duty station and assignment, pray tell, will you be sending these "returning" servicemen/women to best further our efforts in this war? Please tell me what purpose dead soldiers and Marines will serve? Can they fight? Can they run supply lines? Can they fly fling-wing air support? Can they even call in a target object? They serve no purpose whatsoever in the on-going battle. Their only purpose, as seems to you, is as chattel for propaganda. If this is truly how you feel, then, to me, you seem no better than the jourons who type letters into incoherent paragraphs at the MSM. Because, nowhere in the oaths of enlistment do I see a section for continuing to serve AFTER DEATH. In case you've forgotten....
"The wordings of the current oath of enlistment and oath for commissioned officers are as follows:

"I, _____, do solemnly swear (or affirm) that I will support and defend the Constitution of the United States against all enemies, foreign and domestic; that I will bear true faith and allegiance to the same; and that I will obey the orders of the President of the United States and the orders of the officers appointed over me, according to regulations and the Uniform Code of Military Justice. So help me God." (Title 10, US Code; Act of 5 May 1960 replacing the wording first adopted in 1789, with amendment effective 5 October 1962).

"I, _____ (SSAN), having been appointed an officer in the Army of the United States, as indicated above in the grade of _____ do solemnly swear (or affirm) that I will support and defend the Constitution of the United States against all enemies, foreign or domestic, that I will bear true faith and allegiance to the same; that I take this obligation freely, without any mental reservations or purpose of evasion; and that I will well and faithfully discharge the duties of the office upon which I am about to enter; So help me God." (DA Form 71, 1 August 1959, for officers.)"
Hmmmmm, nope, nothing in there at all about "for all eternity" or "even after my death". Just a simple, "So help me God."

Here's a newsflash for ya, families of military servicemen/women are used to having their feelings trampled on. (Although, you seem particularly gleeful about using and abusing us in your analogy. Nice.) "It's part of the job." is a phrase we get quite used to. We may not like it all the time, but hey, it's the job.

However, that job ends with the death of the soldier, sailor, airmen or Marine. At that time, they belong to the families who have loved and cherished them all of their lives. NO ONE ELSE!
They have fulfilled their contract. They have given their all, literally, in defense of God and country.
Like it or not, this is not a "policy issue". Life sucks, get used to it.

These men and women have done their job and have done it well. Leave them and their families alone.

Posted by: DL Sly at February 23, 2009 05:48 PM

...that job ends with the death of the soldier, sailor, airmen or Marine. At that time, they belong to the families who have loved and cherished them all of their lives. NO ONE ELSE!
They have fulfilled their contract. They have given their all, literally, in defense of God and country.

Like it or not, this is not a "policy issue".

Well said.

Posted by: Cassandra at February 23, 2009 10:03 PM

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