Wire: Gates Blasts Associated Press Decision to Run Photo of Marine Dying in Combat
Off the Wire:
WASHINGTON, Sept. 4, 2009 -- Newswire services today reported that Defense Secretary Robert Gates is objecting “in the strongest terms” to an Associated Press decision to transmit a photograph showing a mortally wounded 21-year-old Marine in his final moments of life, calling the decision “appalling” and a breach of “common decency.”
The Associated Press reported that the Marine’s father had asked -- in an interview and in a follow-up phone call -- that the image, taken by an embedded photographer, not be published.
The photo shows Lance Cpl. Joshua M. Bernard of New Portland, Maine, who was struck by a rocket-propelled grenade in a Taliban ambush Aug. 14 in Helmand province of southern Afghanistan, according to AP.
The Politico politics blog noted that Gates wrote to Thomas Curley, AP’s president and chief executive officer. “Out of respect for his family’s wishes, I ask you in the strongest of terms to reconsider your decision. I do not make this request lightly. In one of my first public statements as Secretary of Defense, I stated that the media should not be treated as the enemy, and made it a point to thank journalists for revealing problems that need to be fixed -- as was the case with Walter Reed.
“I cannot imagine the pain and suffering Lance Corporal Bernard’s death has caused his family. Why your organization would purposefully defy the family’s wishes knowing full well that it will lead to yet more anguish is beyond me. Your lack of compassion and common sense in choosing to put this image of their maimed and stricken child on the front page of multiple American newspapers is appalling. The issue here is not law, policy or constitutional right -- but judgment and common decency.”The four-paragraph letter concluded, “Sincerely,” then had Gates’ signature.
The following cut line was attached to the image:
“The U.S. patrol had a tip that Taliban fighters were lying in ambush in a pomegranate grove, and a Marine trained his weapon on the trees. Seconds later, a salvo of gunfire and rocket-propelled grenades poured out, and a grenade hit Lance Cpl. Joshua ‘Bernie’ Bernard. The Marine was about to become the next fatality in the deadliest month of the deadliest year of the Afghan war.”The Associated Press continues to defend its decision to publish the photograph.
(Report from newswire sources.)
Tags: Wire, Headlines, DOD, Military, War, United States, U.S., News
Global Tags: Washington DC, News and Politics, News, Politics, Current Events, Current Affairs, Life, Culture, Buzz, Tension