Saturday, November 15, 2003

Here's a lovely little article by Eusebio Val, the X-man's replacement as Washington correspondent for La Vanguardia. Its headline is The Dead Are Not Profitable: Bush prevents press from covering funerals, arrivals of caskets of fallen soldiers.

The Bush Administration has no qualms about sowing fear--and even panic--among the citizenry. Since 9-11 antiterrorist alerts have been constant. There was a time when it was recommended to the population that they should stock up on duct tape in order to seal doors and windows against a chemical attack, and the flag of fear of a smallpox epidemic was waved. collective anguish can bring good political dividents. The Republicans won the Congressional elections of November 2002 and the surveys supported the war against Saddam.

The President and his team do not like at all the fact that the press shows the suffering of their soldiers in Iraq and Afghanistan. George W. Bush has not attended, as far as is known, the arrival of the caskets of fallen soldiers nor has he allowed himself to be photographed among their crying relatives. Neither has he been seen encouraging mutilated soldiers. He doesn't like this disagreeable side of war. He prefers his own harangues.

The Pentagon has dusted off an old rule passed during the Clinton administration--but which was never strictly enforced--to prohibit the media of communication from covering the arrival of the caskets from the Iraqi front. The planes with the caskets normally arrive at the air force base at Dover, Delaware. The Administration does not think it wise to make the images of the shipment of cadavers an everyday event for the general public. The Defense Department has just restricted reporters' access to the funerals in the national cemetery in Arlington, Virginia. Some of the dead in Iraq rest there. In this case they have taken advantage of a rule already on the books but with flexible application. The press can only approach the funerals with permission from the families.

This coyness with the casualties in the "Anti-Terrorist War" has displeased many. "We can't understand the true cost of war without seeing the amputated and the dead," says Steve robinson, director of an association of veterans of the Gulf War. Some newspapers and TV stations get around the prohibition by printing photos and profiles of the fallen soldiers. Bush cannot impose the total invisibility of the tragedy.

The bold type is mine. It seems to me that the story is that the US government does not allow pressies to interfere with the folks invited to the funeral of a "fallen soldier" unless those folks give their consent. What the hell is wrong with that? But no, Eusebio has to make it into some kind of censorship scandal. You people in the States, is there any truth in what this joker says?

Note, by the way, the repeated themes of Americans being frightened cowards, of the government fomenting this terror, of shadowy political forces controlling the voters, and of government censorship. They all show up in Eusebio's story.

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