Ban lifted on U.S. media covering fallen soldiers returning home

The U.S. Department of Defense has lifted a media ban on news coverage of the return of fallen service members announced Robert M. Gates on Thursday. Now it’s up to the family members of the dead.

The ban has been a source of controversy within the media. The ban was imposed by former President George H.W. Bush. Media was denied the right to cover the return of military remains at Dover Air Force Base from the first Gulf War.

The media has often used images of the return of coffins rolling off planes in the politics of a war.

The term “the Dover test” was applied in the 1990’s to describe the public’s tolerance for troop casualties. Both parties have upheld that ‘Dover ban’ with some exceptions. One of those was in October 2000 when the Pentagon handed out photographs of coffins arriving at Dover from the bombing of the USS Cole.

The ban was made even more broad in March 2003 when the US invaded Iraq. The ban then expanded to include other ports of arrival in the ban.

CNN reports that the families are split on the new ruling.

Karen Meredith favors the lifting of the ban. She had written to President Obama on lifting the ban.

“I wanted the nation to grieve with me, and if we don’t see those images we don’t know that these young men and women are dying,” she told CNN.

“And to me its an honor to have an honor guard at Dover when they’re bringing these men and women back through the mortuary. But we’ve never been able to see those pictures of the honor being given.”

Others though are in favor of privacy. Vince Rangel wondered what the good is of making the caskets anonymous fallen.

“I would rather take that attention and give it everything it deserves at the gravesite in the communities where you can get all that information, so people can understand these people as human beings. Not just as a flag-draped casket that comes out of a plane.”

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