Whether the mainstream press has abdicated this obligation in certain circumstances is a matter of useful discussion (unquestionably, the AP's cowardly refusal to distribute the Muhammad cartoons in 2006 for fear of upsetting some Muslims was a perfect example of this surrender), but trying to limit the media's capacity to cover war is no way to make it more accountable.
It was only recently that the Pentagon finally rescinded the misguided restriction on the media's ability to photograph military caskets, overturning the ban instituted by President George H.W. Bush at the time of the Gulf War. Our delicate constitutions can handle the debate over war. Obviously -- at the risk of dropping a massive cliché on readers -- the troops exist to defend the First Amendment and things like it, as ugly as they may find the results.
There is now some question as to whether the agreement with the AP stipulated next-of-kin permission to publish pictures of deceased or wounded military personnel. That issue should be investigated.
But on the debate over the substance of these pictures, the press has one overriding question to ask: Do the photos help citizens better understand the story of the war in Afghanistan?
Obviously, they do.