Different Perspectives

Friday, September 11, 2009


Last week the Associated Press released a photo of a fatally wounded Marine in Afghanistan. The photo caused a big stir, especially since the soldier's family and Secretary of Defense Robert Gates made multiple pleas for the A.P. not to run it. Pentagon Press Secretary Geoff Morrell explains Gates' position, while A.P. Director of Photography Santiago Lyon tells us why they ultimately ran the piece.

    Music Playlist
  • Joe Henry
    Artist: All Blues Hail Mary

Comments [11]

Chris Gray from New Haven

In my opinion, the AP did fail to respect the wishes of the family though I am not at all certain that any of their 'rights' were trampled. Facts are simply facts, even if they are represented by photographic images.

The recent auto accident, involving so much carnage, where a mother on alcohol and marijuana drove all the victims to their deaths is another story were the respects of the family were ignored over the rights of the public to know or see the facts. We no longer live in a world where even our soldiers' families can claim such privileges.

Sep. 18 2009 08:15 AM
Julie from Tacoma, WA

I don't care where you stand on the war, the point is in this instance the AP DID NOT respect the rights of the family. It is appalling.

Put this in prospective - If your son or daughter just died, let me decide what to do about it. Say they were a heroin addict and accepted the consequences of their choices, right? So let me post the photos of your OD child on the web while you mourn. Let them be the poster child for the 'reality in life.' Let me do it three weeks after your child has left this world.

At the end of the day, this is death. Respect that. I don't care how much time has passed, just because someone signs up to protect our nation and put their life on the line - they are not relinquishing their privacy or the rights of their next of kin to provide tools of justification for ANYTHING.

Bluntly said - it is not about YOU. We as people, nor does the AP have the right to say what should be done with that photo. Again, if that were the case, let me smear the hardest time in your families' life across the web and let people 'learn' from it.

If you need a photo to decide how you feel about the war, then pull yourself out of the rabbit hole and read about it.

Sep. 15 2009 05:06 PM
Christopher Egli from Devon, PA

I don't understand why the family would object to the photo, or any photo like this. As enlisted soldiers, they're agreeing they'll try to kill other human beings, and they accept that they may be killed themselves. They're saying 'This is what I want to do'. If they're not proud of it, why would they try to hide the results? Are we supposed to believe war is like Disneyland? I think that's the Republican idea of war; pretty little ribbons on the back of their cars, next to pretty little American flags. More importantly, the men who started this war, George Bush and Dick Cheney, and all their idiot followers, should have the bodies of their victims - both Iraqi and American - delivered to their homes so that they can see what they've wrought. But no, they're all about denial and pretense and lying. That's all they know.

Sep. 15 2009 12:41 PM
Mark Kemper


I had heard this story on NPR Talk of the Nation and at several of his fellow squad members agreed with the AP releasing the picture. I was driving and almost had to pull over from the tears of several military members called to say at first they were upset about the release but after seeing the picture changed their mind and supported the release.
I finally saw the picture an wondered what fuss was about. I realize the main problem was the family objected but if a name had not been attached to the picture no one would have known. To me the picture shows team work and love for the welfare of a fellow squad member.

My respect for the members of the fighting military on the ground grows stronger with every story that tells the gritty truth. I wish they did not have to be there and could be back with their family today but life is not fair and there are a lot of control freaks in the world. War is ugly we need to see more of that side.
To all soldiers may all of you come home safe and sound.

Sep. 13 2009 05:10 PM
David Nolan from New York City

There is no such debate or restriction on reporting the horrors of war in many other countries - and particularly in the regions most affected by the US invasions of Iraq and Afghanistan.. In fact, graphic and uncensored images of horrifically maimed war victims - both living and dead - are routinely plastered all over print and broadcast media throughout the middle east.

The fact that Americans are kept in this forced and artificial state of ignorance prevents us from understanding anything about the consequences of our actions as a nation. It also keeps us as human individuals from understanding the basis for the enormous level of enmity directed at the US from the affected regions overseas.

In the entire discussion with representatives from the AP and the Department of Defense, it would have been very interesting to hear how each side might view the issue of the rest of the world being able to see these sorts of images on a daily basis, vs. the American public's complete ignorance of them, and how that affects our ability as individuals or a nation to form fully-informed opinions about US military actions overseas.

The other issue that comes to mind is whether a soldier in an overseas military action has any reasonable expectation of privacy at all. War is a very public phenomenon, and it is hard to see how one can make the argument that one's personal sensitivities might override the inherent newsworthiness of anything that might happen there.

Sep. 13 2009 04:14 PM
Maria Gitin from Santa Cruz County, California

Why has this one photo and story created such a stir? I recently watched Anderson Cooper of CNN narrate the surgery of a soldier in Afghanistan who was having both legs amputated on camera. If naming the dying, wounded, injured causes the public to become upset and bring about pressure to end the war sooner, that is a good thing, isn't it? Why would any family want to prolong war?

The media has a responsibility to report the news however sensational it is. It should be the public, including donors, supporters and advertisers who set the standards for what is acceptable in war coverage. Not the Pentagon.

Sep. 12 2009 08:12 PM
Brett Greisen from Astoria NY

I'm glad the photo was published. It was 3 weeks after the incident & if we had similar photos published during the Bush administration the rapt media infatuation with war might have been shortened.

Yes, things are different. In WW II newsreels took weeks to months to reach movie theaters. In Vietnam, it was an overnight to Hawaii for transmission. But either way, the US public was treated as adults as far as war news. Now, the speed of reporting has acted to prompt both fair and unfair censorship of war zones. This is disrespectful to our Armed Forces and their families.

It's time for the media to recognize that the truth gets out, especially when someone tries to hide it.

Sep. 12 2009 06:02 PM
Nick from Washington, DC

The sanctimonious attitude of the AP with regards to this story is simply appalling. Forget that the Secretary of Defense asked the AP not to publish the photo; the fact that the AP made the decision to publish the photo over the objections of the family is simply inexcusable.

The AP seems to be acting only in their self-interests here. The public gain here is not outweighed by the pain inflicted on the family by the AP.

The true costs of war is amazingly high, but the cost is borne most heavily by the family of American soldiers. The media and the public alike should give great deference to those family members who have made the ultimate sacrifice.

Sep. 12 2009 12:04 PM
Jax from Wisconsin

"The Cost of War" is almost never talked about American dead. We can talk about the number dead, cost spent, time, and so on, but you can not whitewash War. I see people get so pumped up at the possibility of War and then say how it is a terrible thing when someone they know die from it. My parents were all for the 'War' til my brother was sent over to Iraq. As for the grief of the family, is printing a picture really that much of an insult when a family member has just died? Or that some people are angry about it because it might turn public opinion? It is about a man who died. Not a faceless geist to be forgotten in the headlines and statistics.

Sep. 12 2009 06:02 AM

Perhaps America would be better off paying a fair price to countries for their resource wealth... we would more than make up the difference by not having to fund a bloated military and by not having to guard our borders against would-be aggressors. We might even get the fringe benefit of weening our country off oil and exporting so much of our wealth.

Sep. 12 2009 12:25 AM

This photo and more most definitely should be published, and should have been published for years.

Americans love the fine Hollywood version of war, where America always wins, is always the good guy, and only one or two brave soldiers have to die while fighting the good fight.

My brother-in-law was killed in Iraq, and our family knows first-hand that the sanitized version of war is nonsense.

Anyone who is satisfied to jingoistically cheer for war, yet wants their sleep to be spared the nightmare realities that our brave servicemen face is more than a hypocrite in my estimation... they are traitorous.

If a family truly wants to honor a relation killed in combat, then they should honor the brothers and sisters in arms that relation died trying to protect. Those in my family, including my Mother and Father-in-law, believe whole-heartedly that every American should know and see everything our servicemen know and see... only then can they make an informed, sincere, and sober decision about whether or not our country should be invloved in a particular conflict.

Enlightenment to the realities of war is the price that should be paid for the privelege of being entitled to an opinion about whether or not the U.S. should send our young men and women to kill another country's young men and women.

The hardest thing is, other than higher profits for a few big oil companies, contractors, and the defense industries,
our family still doesn't know what the hell our service men and women are doing in the Middle East. As far as we can tell, all U.S. invlovement accomplishes is to incite others to violence against Americans for being unwanted invaders and usurpers of wealth.

Sep. 12 2009 12:25 AM

Leave a Comment

Email addresses are required but never displayed.