The Washington Post reports today that President Barack Obama is thinking of reversing his stance on allowing photographs of dead soldier's coffins to be taken and published, reversing an 18-year-old policy, in place since the Persian Gulf War in 1991.
This is obviously a difficult space to negotiate; it's a balance of allowing respect of fallen soldier's families in grief while allowing images of the human cost of war to be publicly circulated. Policies about disloyalty and anti-war messaging bans have been in place since World War I but the defense department still sends a press release every time a soldier (or sometimes a group of soldiers) gets killed in action. It doesn't make sense for flag-draped coffins, an overall rather un-graphic image, to be banned from public discourse -- especially when the names of those contained in the coffins aren't shown to the public. It's sort of sad it took a freedom of information request to get access to these images.