Photography Ban Lifted at Dover Air Force Base

Ban Lifted - Photographers can again capture images of returning fallen U.S. soldiers at Dover Air Force Base.

Fallen Soldiers at Dover Air Force Base

On February 26th Defense Secretary, Robert Gates, announced an end to the 1991 ban of press photography coverage of returning caskets of American troops. Under the restriction put in place by President George H.W. Bush during the Gulf War, the media was barred from photographing flag-draped caskets returning at Dover Air Force Base, Del.

Gates said at a Pentagon news conference. "The decision regarding media coverage of the dignified transfer process at Dover should be made by those most directly affected -- on an individual basis -- by the families of the fallen."

The announcement authorizes family members to choose whether to allow media access. "We ought not to presume to make that decision in their place," added Gates, who began reviewing the policy at the request of President Barack Obama.

Associated Press director of photography, Santiago Lyon, applauded the decision, saying "The Associated Press is pleased with the U.S. Defense Secretary's decision, which allows us to augment our coverage of wars abroad in a more complete fashion by being able to document these sad homecomings of America's war dead with the dignity and respect they deserve."

National Press Photographers Association president Bob Carey agreed with Lyon and said in a Feb. 26th released statement ".. it is an important step to honor our fallen heros..."

The daily pictures of flag covered caskets coming home from the Vietnam War helped to shift public opinion against the war at that time. First President Bush recognized the power these images could have in negatively effecting support he needed for the Gulf War, and had the ban put in place

At President Obama's first televised press conference, CNN's EdHenry asked what the President's stance was on the ban. He responded that he had asked Gates to review the policy. Obviously this announcement makes good on that promise and encourages the families that if they so wish, their soldier will receive the respect and honor that he/she deserves. Occasional official military photos of honor guard ceremonies have been released in recent years as a result of lawsuits and Freedom of Information Act requests.

More at NPPA >>

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Filed under: Photo News March 05, 2009
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