There is no question that publishing the photos of the Army 82nd Airborne posing with body parts of dead Afghanistan militants was the right thing to do.
It’s predictable that SecDef Leon Panetta would cite blowback as a reason to refrain, but there is too much secrecy in what the U.S. does through our military as it is. The contagion of events inside Afghanistan, from the Quran burning to the murderous rampage of a U.S. soldier recently, to the photos, proves we are not only in over our head, but we’ve lost control of the U.S. mission to the point of unraveling our own integrity and ethical purpose.
From the LA Times, who felt compelled to explain their job:
“We considered this very carefully,” Maharaj said. “At the end of the day, our job is to publish information that our readers need to make informed decisions. We have a particular duty to report vigorously and impartially on all aspects of the American mission in Afghanistan. On balance, in this case, we felt that the public interest here was served by publishing a limited, but representative sample of these photos, along with a story explaining the circumstances under which they were taken.”
… “The two photos published were chosen because they clearly and unambiguously depict conduct that the Army described as inappropriate. In examining the full set of images, we set aside others on grounds of taste, relevance or repetitiousness. Some were too gruesome. Others were very similar to the two images already chosen or were difficult to interpret,” he said.
It seems the American public has a huge appetite for the trivial, but when it comes to the serious, like the wars we are waging, we’d rather just close our eyes, because it’s all too horrible.
Our society hasn’t even begun to process the cost of rehabilitation and long-term care of the veterans coming back from Afghanistan. In America, war is something that happens in an alternate universe that is driven by partisanship.
It makes it easier for the fearmongers to squeal about the ludicrous charges that Pres. Obama is “weak” on North Korea, Iran or whatever national security fantasy they can concoct for the ideologically besotted and proudly ignorant.