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Monday, January 8, 2007

A Picture Is Worth…

posted by on January 8 at 12:43 PM

…not a fuck of a lot, actually, when the media “protects” you from it. Richard Blair blogging at the All Spin Zone noticed a strange sentence in this story from Sunday’s edition of the Washington Post.

Capturing images of war on their digital cameras, as many troops in Iraq have done, Marines took dozens of gruesome photographs of the 24 civilians who were killed in Haditha, Iraq, in November 2005… Among the images, there is a young boy with a picture of a helicopter on his pajamas, slumped over, his face and head covered in blood. There is a mother lying on a bed, arms splayed, the bodies of three young children huddled against her right side. There are men with gaping head wounds, and a woman and a child hunkered down on their knees, their hands frozen around their faces as if permanently bracing for an attack…

The images are contained in thousands of pages of NCIS investigative documents obtained by The Washington Post. Post editors decided that most of the images are too graphic to publish…

Blair points out that the newspapers had no issues about publishing this graphic image…


…or this image of villagers massacred at My Lai by U.S. troops…


So why not show the American people images from Iraq? Says Blair

Attitudes toward the war [in Vietnam] started changing when these photos were published….

During a week when George Bush is preparing to announce his strategery for escalation of U.S. involvement in Iraq, and on a day when five more servicemen were killed, the Post editors made a decision that they wouldn’t publish graphic images of the war, either in their newspaper or online.

Post editors decided that most of the images are too graphic to publish.

There should be red flags flying everywhere. Why is the WaPo holding back graphic images of a civilian massacre in Iraq? Could it be that they’re trying to avoid controversy and outrage from the neocon howler monkeys if the images were to be made available?

…By holding back these images of atrocities committed in the name of the American people, the Post editors allow the atrocities to continue. This is particularly true in a week which decisions are going to be announced that will define U.S. involvement in Iraq for at least the rest of George Bush’s term in office.

Care to complain? Here’s the contact info for the ombudsman at the Washington Post:

Deborah Howell 202-334-7582

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It looks like this Administration and its oil industry pals accomplished exactly what they'd hoped to by initiating this war.
They're taking control of the oil.

Future of Iraq: The spoils of war [Independent]

Posted by bobo | January 8, 2007 1:06 PM

The images aren't published because no one wants to see them. The unpleasant reality of it is that we live in a society that has scrubbed all unpleasant images, thoughts, voices, and et cetera from any public exposure. The skewed perspective on the seemingly eternal struggle to be consistently politically correct; or to shield the public from offensive materials. A modern utopia where the many are "protected'" by the few. If we can't see them then we can sleep easy with our conscience, finish our day to day, and continue living our lives without being confronted. Demonstration in action? Why does anything about Lindsay Lohan warrant more attention from the slog readers (if you're looking at comments). Thats a hell of an editorial call on their part, and I'm probably not the only one when I say that it wasn't the right one.

Posted by AnthonyW. | January 8, 2007 1:31 PM

Can the Stranger find these horrid images and publish them? Or Slog some links to these soldier's flickr accounts?

Posted by treacle | January 8, 2007 1:38 PM

It's not necessary for the Post to publish them. Soldiers are posting pictures of their kills on personal websites. Anyone with google and a half hour will find these pictures.

Posted by Gitai | January 8, 2007 1:40 PM

I personally don't WANT to see these images but I feel like I SHOULD see these images. If we don't see the results of our actions we won't be outraged and if we aren't outraged we won't care.

Posted by monkey | January 8, 2007 1:51 PM

Thank you, Dan.

Posted by Jonathan | January 8, 2007 2:34 PM

I mostly agree with Gitai. There's some nasty and disturbing pictures on the web, so if you want to see them, you can. The trouble is, most people don't bother looking for them, and "ignorance is bliss." Putting them in the papers forces you to confront those issues (much like the Abu Ghraib pictures forced us to confront that issue).

Posted by him | January 8, 2007 2:39 PM

Thank you for bringing this to our attention. I just emailed the WP ombudsman.

Posted by StrangerDanger | January 8, 2007 5:19 PM

To Gitai and Him, I can see your point that most of these images are already available online.

Still, isn't there some value in having images presented by an editorially competent publication, with the fact-checking and validation that implies?

It's one thing to stumble upon a gruesome image on the internet. Quite another to see one on the cover of a paper of record like the Washington Post or New York Times. It becomes a part of our history and shared memory. That is what we are missing.

Posted by golob | January 8, 2007 5:25 PM

I just emailed the ombudsperson as well. "Understand the power of a single action." That was the quote on my REM concert t-shirt circa 1987.

Posted by Papayas | January 8, 2007 7:42 PM

The Washington Post is doing the right thing, just like the New York Times did two years ago. If people had known biased facts about NSA warrantless surveillance before the '04 election, it might have skewed their decision. Nothing to see here folks. Move along.

Posted by Barney | January 8, 2007 8:09 PM

Not to burst your happy bubble Barney, but facts are facts. They aren't biased just because they make Bush look bad. That's reality. You know, the thing that refuses to go away, no matter how many Bush speeches someone listens to.

I wish the New York Times wasn't a shadow of itself, and simply published the full truth about the NSA program BEFORE the damn election.

How contemptuous you are of your fellow Americans to think it's best to keep the truth from them. You must be really smart!

Posted by golob | January 8, 2007 8:18 PM

Um, Golob I could be mistaken, but I believe Barney (as in "Fife", perhaps?) intended his post to be sarcastic.

Posted by COMTE | January 8, 2007 9:49 PM

These images sound much worse than any of the examples shown on your post. I watched the video in which Nick Berg's head was slowly hacked off. I've seen pictures of exploded heads, the legs and spinal cord of a suicide bomber, and many other indescribable horrors. These images continue to haunt me. I wouldn't wish them on anyone, and I wish I never clicked on those links.

I think most people fully grasp the folly of the Iraq war even without seeing pictures of mutilated children. Besides, all wars are extremely gory, so it's not really relevant to the question of whether a given war is for a worthy cause.

Posted by Sean | January 8, 2007 10:03 PM

theres an explanation right now on PBS channel 9 about 21st racism against the Jews as being behind everyhting in the modern era and why the MIDDLEEASTERN muslims and malysians (UN speaker even said so) etc . Propaganda that its a gruop of zionists and that only 10 percent of Jews died at world trade center were behind the act. etc/. etc. The real hate isn't here its festering from overseas and it goes way beyond 200 years of American history my freinds. Were all fucked because we won't take the blame and we let the Propaganda fester. Man is destroying man and its killing our children and the planet. stop it please.

Posted by sputnik | January 8, 2007 10:54 PM

Sorry 'bout that. My irony-sensor must have been down.

Posted by golob | January 8, 2007 11:00 PM


Posted by Rene | January 9, 2007 10:48 AM


Posted by him | January 9, 2007 2:19 PM

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