ABC’s Nightline is planning to read all the names of U.S. soldiers killed in Iraq Friday. (BBC story). It’s a fitting tribute to those killed overseas during this war/occupation, and I would probably be hard-pressed to find people opposed to it.
One questions concerns me: How does the honoring of servicemen and women killed in action by playing their stories, pictures and lives over our newspapers and TV screens differ from those photos of the coffins released last week? (BBC story).
The U.S. government has said the restrictions on media coverage of the return of war dead to the U.S. was imposed to respect the privacy of the victim’s families. I can understand this desire, but there’s no right to privacy in the U.S. Constitution.
Bottom line, you have two competing rights here that aren’t enumerated in the Constitution. They include a right to privacy and a right to access the government by the people (and the media).
I think the government fails in this case. There’s absolutely no way to discern the individual identity of each coffin while there is a vital public interest in seeing the government’s execution of the war effort.
Unfortunately, we have an administration that’s more concerned about controlling information rather than let the people have access (except when it suits their political ends).
Sadly, the Bush White House’s on-going enforcement of a 1991 policy is just the latest in a series of concealment that goes back four years (over 30 if you count Bush’s duck on the National Guard issue).
A side note: Things have been extremely hectic over the three weeks. New leadership at work and a brief vacation on top of regular duties have just got everything out of whack. Sadly, blogging is one of the first things to go.