Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Barack's first public lie as president

Defense Secretary Robert Gates suggested today that he was open to allowing the media to photograph the flag-draped coffins of fallen soldiers as their bodies and remains are returned to the United States.
"If the needs of the families can be met and the privacy concerns can be addressed, the more honor we can accord these fallen heroes, the better," Mr. Gates told reporters.
He said he was ordering a review of the military policy that bars photographers from taking pictures of the return of the coffins, most of which go through Dover Air Force Base in Delaware, and set a "short deadline" for a decision.

The above is from Katharine Q. Seelye's "Gates Orders Review of Policy on Soldiers' Coffins" and it went up online at the New York Times website yesterday. It doesn't appear to be in the paper which is too bad because the story needs a lot more space. Mike noted Reuters report last night:

U.S. Defence Secretary Robert Gates on Tuesday ordered the Pentagon to review its ban against news media photos of the flag-draped coffins of U.S. military dead returning from combat zones overseas.

Needs a lot more space? Monday's press conference:

QUESTION: Thank you, Mr. President. You've promised to send more troops to Afghanistan. And since you've been very clear about a time table to withdraw our combat troops from Iraq within 16 months, I wonder what's your time table to withdraw troops eventually from Afghanistan?

And related to that, there's a Pentagon policy that bans media coverage of the flag-draped coffins from coming into Dover Air Force Base. And back in 2004, then-Senator Joe Biden said that it was shameful for dead soldiers to be, quote, snuck back into the country under the cover of night.

You've promised unprecedented transparency, openness in your government. Will you overturn that policy, so the American people can see the full human cost of war?

MR. OBAMA: [. . .] Now with respect to the policy of opening up media to loved ones being brought back home, we are in the process of reviewing those policies in conversations with the Department of Defense. So I don't want to give you an answer now, before I've evaluated that review and understand all the implications involved.

CNN's Ed Henry asked him about the coffins and above was Barack's response on that. He LIED. We are in the process of reviewing those polices? There was no review going on until Gates ordered one yesterday unless every news outlet mangled the story. Barack stood before the nation and lied claiming there was already a review in process.

When might Barack have moved on that issue? An issue that should have been addressed before he ever took office? He's been called on to change the policy since before he was sworn in. Rebecca noted Paul Bedard and Nikki Schwab's "Lautenberg to Obama: Don't Hide Our Fallen Troops at Dover Air Force Base" (US News & World Reports):

President Obama is under more pressure this week to let media cameras cover the arrival of war dead at Dover Air Force Base. Sen. Frank Lautenberg, in a letter to Obama provided to Whispers, said, "I respectfully urge you to work to bring an end to the misguided policies of the past that seek to hide the sacrifice of our soldiers and the public recognition and pride that should accompany it." The policy is controversial on all sides: Some claim the government wants to soften the impact of many coffins being pictured at once; others say taking pictures is disrespectful. Lautenberg has been outspoken on the issue for several years and pushed for a reversal of the policy in 2004, in the middle of the Iraq and Afghanistan wars.
Officials say that Lautenberg, a Democrat from New Jersey, and the administration have been discussing the policy. "Throughout our nation's history, it has been a tradition for our nation to honor fallen military men and women when their flag-draped caskets are flown home from war operations overseas. Seeing these returning caskets prompts a national sense of shared pain and sacrifice, as well as gratitude and pride," the senator said in the letter.

We are in the process of reviewing -- that's what he said. Not we're going to start a review. He said the review was under way. It was not. Liar. And don't say, "We'll he meant he was reviewing whether or not to review . . ." He deliberately misled. It was a lie. Like a student who didn't do his homework, stalling for time, Barack lied.

Ann Scott Tyson (Washington Post) notes

Critics of the Pentagon policy view it as a means for blocking images that underscore the human cost of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, as well as preventing coverage that honors those killed. Obama was asked about the issue in Monday's news conference and said, "We are in the process of reviewing those policies in conversations with the Department of Defense, so I don't want to give you an answer now before I've evaluated that review and understand all the implications involved."

The Committee to Protect Journalists is calling on Barack to stop US detentions/imprisonments of journalists. Maria Sanminiatelli (AP) notes that CPJ sent Barack a letter in January requesting he address the issue because it has encouraged "other countries" to also detain/imprison journalists. Neil MacFarquhuar (New York Times) adds: "Paul Steiger, chairman of the committee and a former Wall Street Journal editor, also called on the government to thoroughly investigate the killings of 16 reporters by American forces in Iraq since the 2003 invasion." Related, CPJ has new publication:

Attacks on the Press

Criminal gangs force Latin American journalists to censor their work. Asian governments emulate China's media control model. In the Middle East, a regional pact threatens satellite TV. These alarming developments are recounted in CPJ's worldwide survey, Attacks on the Press. "Today, the greatest threats to freedom of the press are more insidious than a generation ago because they are intended to induce a climate of fear and self-censorship," writes Carl Bernstein in the preface.

The following community sites updated last night:

ADDED: On any given day there are a ton of things -- a ton -- that could go into an entry and do not due to time and other things. Mike noted a new album, The Good Things, in his entry last night. It's Schuyler Fisk's new album and you can find out more info at her MySpace page. She's immensely talented and I know her mother. We'll note her debut album and MySpace page in the snapshot if only with links.

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oh boy it never ends