16 Oct

Military Reverses Short-Lived Ban on Photos of Afghanistan Deaths

Pentagon called the ban an “isolated incident”

U.S. Army photo by Staff Sgt. Andrew Smith
By Daryl Lang, Oct 16, 2009

U.S. Army photo by Staff Sgt. Andrew Smith

A U.S. soldier in eastern Afghanistan, seen in a recent military handout photo.

The U.S. command in Afghanistan that last month banned pictures of military personnel killed in action has reversed its policy.

The change came as the Pentagon called the ban an “isolated incident” amid media scrutiny this week.

The rule, which was issued by the Regional Command East media operations center in early September, said, “Media will not be allowed to photograph or record video of U.S. personnel killed in action.” It was inserted into the RC East media embed ground rules soon after the Associated Press distributed a photograph of a mortally wounded American Marine in Afghanistan.

RC East revised its guidelines Thursday to say, “Media will not be prohibited from viewing or filming casualties,” along with a list of conditions under which the publication of those images is restricted. The new language is in sync with other military embed agreements in Afghanistan and Iraq.

In a statement Thursday, the media operations center at RC East said it acted “to further clarify the command’s intent to protect the privacy and propriety of our service members who are killed or mortally wounded in action.”

“This change better synchronizes RC East media ground rules with those of our higher headquarters,” the statement explained.

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