General Question

Plone3000's avatar

What is the name of the act that the Bush administration passed to grant deceased U.S. soldiers more privacy?

Asked by Plone3000 (668 points ) November 30th, 2011

My teacher said that George W. Bush passed an act that made it prohibited or illegal for the media to show dead soldiers on the news, is this true? One example is how during the Vietnam War news channels showed much more graphic images than our more recent wars. Many people argue that this is because the war in the Middle East has gone on for much longer, but even during the beginning of the Iraq war I do not recall seeing such desterbing images. So, please, what is the name of this act?

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3 Answers

zigmund's avatar

His father, George H.W. Bush set that policy in 1989.
Our current president has enacted a new policy by which the censorship of the previous two decades would be reversed, but any families of a deceased soldier could ask that their specific photos not be released. (I feel that this policy is more respectful in that it gives families a choice, and ensures that journalists aren’t censored.)

You can tell your teacher that the 1989 policy had nothing to do with ensuring privacy for families and that he/she is probably proselytizing.

Did the 1989 policy have a name? Probably. Read about it here

Disturbing is spelled with an “i”.

dabbler's avatar

@zigmund “You can tell your teacher that the 1989 policy had nothing to do with ensuring privacy for families and that he/she is probably proselytizing.” Damn straight. It was done to avoid the stark truth of some of the consequences of sending our soldiers to war.
The media in particular were barred from covering the return of deceased soldiers because that might make the public think twice about why they do or don’t support a war in progress.
And I agree the current policy is far more respectful.

zigmund's avatar

Yes, I remember how odd it struck me back in 1989, the government telling journalists what they could and couldn’t take pictures of. The US Constitution guarantees freedom of the press. We’re seeing a bit more of that unconstitutional policy these days with the “occupy” coverage. Here in NYC, the night the occupiers were moved out of Zuccotti Park, members of the press were removed to another location first under the guise of safety.

Back to the original question
“The Pentagon ban on media coverage of returning war casualties was initiated in January 1991 by then Secretary of Defense Dick Cheney during the administration of President George H. W. Bush, just weeks before the start of the Gulf War against Iraq.”
and
“The ban on media coverage of returning casualties was imposed by Defense Secretary Cheney after an embarrassing incident in which three television networks broadcast live, split-screen images in December, 1989, as the first U.S. casualties were returning from an American assault on Panama. In that incident, President Bush was seen on television joking at a White House news conference while somber images of flag-draped coffins arriving at Dover Air Force Base moved across viewers’ screens. ”

Looks like the policy was set in 1991, not 1989.

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