U.S. lifts photo ban on military coffins
In a reversal of an 18-year-old military policy that critics said was hiding the ultimate cost of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, the news media will now be allowed to photograph the flag-draped coffins of America's war dead as their bodies are returned to the United States, but only if the families of the dead agree.
The decision, which Defense Secretary Robert Gates announced Thursday, lifts a 1991 blanket ban on such photographs put in place under President George Bush. It chiefly affects coffins arriving from Iraq and Afghanistan that go through Dover Air Force Base in Delaware.
The military said the ban protected the privacy and dignity of families of the dead. But others, including some of the families as well as opponents of the Iraq war, said it sanitized the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan and was intended to control public anger over the conflicts.