February 26th, 2009
12:41 PM ET
5 years ago

Pentagon to allow media coverage of war victim coffins

Robert Gates announced the new policy Thursday.
Robert Gates announced the new policy Thursday.

(CNN) - The Pentagon on Thursday lifted its ban on media coverage of the coffins of war victims when they arrive at Dover Air Force Base in Delaware, according to a senior U.S. defense official with direct knowledge of the decision.

The coverage must be approved by families, however.

Sixty-seven percent of those questioned in a CNN/Opinion Research Corporation survey released Thursday say they think the government should allow the public to see photos of caskets of U.S. troops at an air force base. Thirty-one percent of the those surveyed disagree with the decision to release photos of the event.

The CNN/Opinion Research Corporation survey was conducted February 18-19, with 1,046 adult Americans questioned by telephone. The survey's sampling error is plus or minus 3 percentage points.


Filed under: Pentagon
soundoff (184 Responses)
  1. Q

    Having been assigned there for 4 years...I hope they keep the sanctity of this process intact. It is a very moving experience. My condolences to all the families...

    February 26, 2009 01:05 pm at 1:05 pm |
  2. Grateful American

    I believe this should be a decision left up to the individual families to decide.

    February 26, 2009 01:05 pm at 1:05 pm |
  3. Pepper Hanrahan

    I realize this is a sensitive issue for families and I believe that their wishes must be honored. I believe that the media coverage MUST be done with sensitivity, dignity, and honor. The media coverage does do two things: 1) It allows the public to honor our brave fallen by giving an image to connect to a number ... a number of brave humans. 2) As it allows the public to honor those brave, it also causes the public to ask themselves how to respond to those that are dying for them. Is the human cost too high? Is the cost of human life valid for our public goals.

    February 26, 2009 01:06 pm at 1:06 pm |
  4. American Comrade

    Why doesn't CNN do a story on how Obama lied about his tax hikes. He just raised taxes on cigarettes .62 cents a pack. Most smokers do not make 250K a year. So therefore Obama lied and the media should cover it.

    February 26, 2009 01:06 pm at 1:06 pm |
  5. bj

    This is sick.

    February 26, 2009 01:07 pm at 1:07 pm |
  6. Shirley in California

    As long as they respect the victims' families. Sad. Real sad.

    February 26, 2009 01:07 pm at 1:07 pm |
  7. Maggie from Virginia

    Now we will see the true cost of these wars which the Republicans been hiding all these years.

    February 26, 2009 01:08 pm at 1:08 pm |
  8. Steph

    Good! The families now have the right to make this decision instead of the government telling them how their heroic loved one will be treated upon return to the US.

    February 26, 2009 01:09 pm at 1:09 pm |
  9. Bosworth

    Hooray. Now, the deceased soldiers, sailors and airmen won't be the only victims. Their families will now be too. Great thinking. Perhaps next on the transparency list, we can require grieving mothers and wives to be available for "reaction shots" to reporters when informed of a tragic loss.

    This isn't about trying to "put a face on the war." This is about activists who oppose war – any war, no matter the rationale – trying to chill the public's perception. Excuse me, but I don't need photographs of flag-draped coffins to get that message. No one does.

    This is just a sick voyeurism. And the people who are hiding behind a misleading mantle they perversely call "truth" should be ashamed of themselves.

    Just sick.

    February 26, 2009 01:11 pm at 1:11 pm |
  10. meh

    Bosworth> Did you happen to miss the part where it said that the families would have to approve first? Reading comprehension: it's a good thing!

    February 26, 2009 01:15 pm at 1:15 pm |
  11. citizen1

    Of course it is up the the families. However, I would like to think that it's a way for some of us to honor the fallen. Each flagged draped coffin that passes before our eyes, will allow us to individualize our thoughts to the unknown solider beneath.

    February 26, 2009 01:15 pm at 1:15 pm |
  12. karen-Phoenix

    I'm 64 and watched all the coffins come back from VietNam. Bush tried to cover up the true cost of a war both in his budget and in precious lives!!! Thank You President Obama for show what the true cost of a war is!!!! God Bless our military!

    February 26, 2009 01:15 pm at 1:15 pm |
  13. Sad, But Necessary

    I think this is sad, but necessary. I think an Obama Administration would have to allow the photos, as sad as they will be. We honor these men and women by not showing cowardice. We need to show these coffins so we will make the right decisions regarding the ones who are still alive.

    February 26, 2009 01:16 pm at 1:16 pm |
  14. Jim

    Liberials this will come back to hurt you. Mark my words you have taken your power too far to exploit the military dead!

    February 26, 2009 01:18 pm at 1:18 pm |
  15. SC mother

    That's part of the REALITY of war - can't deny the facts..... The public has the right to see the whole picture of Bush's wars, not just his selectively edited version.. They don't have to look if they don't want, but it doesn't change reality.

    February 26, 2009 01:18 pm at 1:18 pm |
  16. Bob

    Finally, a transparent look at the real cost and suffering of war......Thank you President Obama for forcing the Pentagon to unmask and change Bush's cencorship of the press......

    February 26, 2009 01:19 pm at 1:19 pm |
  17. Tired of the Party of No, Lake Forest CA

    I think the policy needed to be changed. Too many people that support the wars do so without realizing its costs.

    February 26, 2009 01:19 pm at 1:19 pm |
  18. usualone

    It is not voyerism to see the coffins; it has the reality of realizing that there are real Americans who are sacrificing their lives with these wars. We saw these coffins during Vietnam and those sacrifices really hit home about the cost of war. Reading about the wars is just not enough.

    February 26, 2009 01:19 pm at 1:19 pm |
  19. Ray Fisher

    This is not a wonderful story of course yet the public must be reminded that freedom has it's price so it is only appropriate that we see, appreciate and remember for all time.

    February 26, 2009 01:20 pm at 1:20 pm |
  20. JJ12345

    Melissa February 26th, 2009 12:49 pm ET

    Good its about time. One thing I've never understood is why Canada broadcasts their soldiers funerals to remind people of the cost of war, while the US wants them to be invisible.
    _____________________________________________________
    This is not about funerals, this is about arrival at Dover Air Force Base. What will happen is that the anti-war groups will use the photos in commercials and on their web sites.

    February 26, 2009 01:20 pm at 1:20 pm |
  21. johnvet

    I applaud this. As a Veteran and a Republican I hated the Bush "steel curtain" when it came to this.

    This is not a Government decision, it's a FAMILY decision. Let's keep the government out of our lives, at least when it comes to this.

    February 26, 2009 01:21 pm at 1:21 pm |
  22. Joan , Ontario

    Here in Canada, we have honoured the fallen soldiers in Afghanistan since the beginning. In fact, part of one of our main highways where the mortorcades travel from the military airport has been called the "Highway of Heroes" and people stand on the bridges over the highway with flags and silently pay tribute to them as it passes. We never hid any statistics and instead have honored their sacrifices and have supported their families. It doesn't replace their loss but it shows that they haven't been forgotten.

    February 26, 2009 01:21 pm at 1:21 pm |
  23. JJ12345

    meh February 26th, 2009 1:15 pm ET

    Bosworth> Did you happen to miss the part where it said that the families would have to approve first? Reading comprehension: it's a good thing!
    ____________________________________________________
    Thats true the families will have to approve it but do you really trust the media????

    February 26, 2009 01:22 pm at 1:22 pm |
  24. Jackie

    Awesome, now the country can see the blood on Obama's hands. Next I am demanding open caskets! I have a right to see their corpse. If the public saw that maybe we can pull our service men and women home like Obama promised.

    February 26, 2009 01:22 pm at 1:22 pm |
  25. Your disgusting Gates!

    While we are at it, lets make a reality show out of this. If we are going to be insensative may as well go all out; make a show where you bring five wives who's husbands are deployed to the coffin, and they all have to guess who's husband could be in there.

    THIS REALLY SICKENS ME!!

    February 26, 2009 01:22 pm at 1:22 pm |
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