The Defense Department’s decision to finally lift the 18 year ban on media coverage of the return of the caskets of US soldiers slain overseas came with strings attached: they could only photograph caskets if the family approved. Such approval has been surprisingly easy to obtain, however.
Of the 19 such requests made since the ban was lifted, 14 have approved (73.68%), despite critics of ending the ban insisting that the families needed their privacy and the coverage would be “exploited” by peace activists. Some of the family members saw another reason for the ban, however.
“I think it was to protect the government’s butt,” David Pautsch told the media covering the death of his son Jason, who was killed in this month’s Mosul truck bombing. He insisted the policy was about minimizing the political impact of the killings.
A Pentagon spokesman acknowledged that the number was “a pretty good majority,” but said it was too soon to tell if families actually approved of the policy change. Their eventual goal is to have the soldier decide before his or her killing whether or not the media will be allowed to cover it, rather than leaving it up to family members.