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February 26, 2009

Ugh...Obama Administration To Allow Press At Dover AFB When Fallen Heroes Return Home

As I blogged about last weekend, several milbloggers made what I thought was a good case as to why these military ceremonies should remain private. Alas after a review, Secretary of Defense Gates has modified the ban on media access to Dover.

Families of America's war dead will decide whether the flag-draped caskets of their loved ones can be photographed by news organizations when the fallen return to U.S. soil, Defense Secretary Robert Gates said Thursday.

Gates said he decided to permit the photos at Dover Air Force Base, Del., if the families agree. A working group will come up with details and logistics.

The new policy reverses a ban put in place in 1991 by President George H.W. Bush. Some critics contended the government was trying to hide the human cost of war.

"We should not presume to make the decision for the families we should actually let them make it," Gates said at a Pentagon news conference.

He cited a difference of opinion inside the Pentagon about whether to change the policy, based on concerns about what would be in the grieving families' best interests. He said he was "never comfortable" with the ban.

I'm glad it's not a total reversal of the policy but I'm still moved by the millblogers argument that this is a private military matter. It also doesn't seem fair to lay this on families in the middle of the worst imaginable times. The DoD better make damn sure this policy doesn't result in the press (including bloggers) hounding families for access.

MORE: TSO at This Ain't Hell has some background on one of the women behind this policy review. He also brings up a good point about how parents and other family members may not share the same outlook on the war that the fallen hero had and he speaks with some degree of personal experience.

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posted by DrewM. at 03:33 PM

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