Wednesday, August 10, 2011
The remains of the 30 Americans killed in the recent crash in AFPak returned to the US today, and that return was the occasion for a cynical photo-op that ignored the wishes of both the Pentagon and the fallen warrior's loved ones.
A White House photographer was allowed to take and widely distribute a photo from the ceremony Tuesday, showing President Obama saluting and other officials in attendance. An official White House photo of the saluting was widely distributed and published by the media. It also was posted on the White House website as the "Photo of the Day."
Doug Wilson, head of public affairs at the Pentagon, said the Department of Defense didn't even know the White House photographer was present and had no idea a photo of the event was being released until it became public. He said the photographers who normally travel with the defense secretary and the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff were not allowed to go to the event...for the very good reason that under a Pentagon policy set in 2009, media coverage at the Dover, Delaware base that is the entry point for all US war dead is allowed only when family members approve. And according to the Pentagon, during initial notification of next of kin, 19 of the 30 families said they did not want media coverage.
At the time, The Pentagon was still debating whether to release publicly the names of the Americans who died in the Chinook crash because doing so might endanger families of the SEAL Team 6 troops, because of the Team's involvement in killing Ossma bin-Laden.
The Pentagon's policies, the wishes of the dead heroes' families - none of it mattered to President Obama or the White House in the least. Not when there's an election coming up and a photo-op to be had.
I admit, I have to censor myself here, out of respect for the presidency even if the man currently occupying the office deserves little of it.
This is a despicable and disgraceful action in an already deeply flawed and immoral presidency. And to say it makes me deeply angry is a massive understatement.