I cannot imagine the pain and suffering Lance Corporal Bernard's death has caused his family. Why your organization would purposefully defy the family's wishes knowing full well that it will lead to yet more anguish is beyond me. Your lack of compassion and common sense in choosing to put this image of their maimed and stricken child on the front page of multiple American newspapers is appalling. The issue here is not law, policy or constitutional right - but judgment and common decency.Sarah Palin, through her Facebook ghostwriter, goes further and accuses the AP of being evil:
Shame on the AP for purposely adding to the grieving family's pain. Ignoring the family's wishes by publishing a sacred image of their loved one proved a despicable and heartless act by the AP. The family said they didn't want the photo published. AP, you did it anyway, and you know it was an evil thing to do.The AP responded to Secretary Gates:
The Associated Press is distributing a photo of a Marine fatally wounded in battle, choosing after a period of reflection to make public an image that conveys the grimness of war and the sacrifice of young men and women fighting it. Lance Cpl. Joshua M. Bernard, 21, of New Portland, Maine, was struck by a rocket-propelled grenade in a Taliban ambush Aug. 14 in Helmand province of southern Afghanistan.This was a difficult decision to make. They had to balance the responsibility of reporting and documenting the realities of war against the sensibilities of a stricken soldier's family.
The image shows fellow Marines helping Bernard after he suffered severe leg injuries. He was evacuated to a field hospital where he died on the operating table.
The picture was taken by Associated Press photographer Julie Jacobson, who accompanied Marines on the patrol and was in the midst of the ambush during which Bernard was wounded. She had photographed Bernard on patrol earlier, and subsequently covered the memorial service held by his fellow Marines after his death...
Journalists embedded with U.S. forces in Afghanistan must sign a statement accepting a series of rules... Critics also maintain some of the rules are aimed at sanitizing the war, minimizing the sacrifice and cruelty which were graphically depicted by images from the Civil War to Vietnam where such restrictions were not in place...
An AP reporter met with his parents, allowing them to see the images.
Bernard's father after seeing the image of his mortally wounded son said he opposed its publication, saying it was disrespectful to his son's memory. John Bernard reiterated his viewpoint in a telephone call to the AP on Wednesday.
"We understand Mr. Bernard's anguish. We believe this image is part of the history of this war. The story and photos are in themselves a respectful treatment and recognition of sacrifice," said AP senior managing editor John Daniszewski.
Julie Jacobson is not the first photographer to record such a common occurrence in a war zone. There is a long history of shocking pictures of the casualties of various conflicts.
In the early 1920s, Ernst Friedrich put together a book of truly haunting images of dead and wounded German soldiers with incisive captions - Krieg Dem Kriege (War Against War) and went on to found an anti-war museum in Berlin. In 1933, when the Nazis started ascending to power, Friedrich's book was deemed subversive and his museum dismantled. His book was not only anti-war, it showed fallen German soldiers, undermining the image of the superiority of the German army, which was unacceptable to the regime.
The Second World War was powerfully documented, as were the Vietnam conflict and others. Many photographers and journalists won prizes, many died in war zones themselves. Some of the pictures are indelibly etched in our memories.
Robert Capa, Germany 1945. Larry Burrows, Vietnam. Catherine Leroy, Vietnam
Each soldier, each civilian killed or maimed in any conflict has a grieving family. Should all frontline photography be banned in the name of common decency? Is it evil to portray the horrors of war or publish an essay that pays tribute to the "brave men and women who make the ultimate sacrifice to defend our freedoms"?
Are we supposed to imagine war as some abstract event that happens very far away, devoid of blood and guts, where the ultimate sacrifice is something to be used as a soundbite by cynical politicians but never seen?
(Some of the photos from War Against War can be found here. They are very graphic and disturbing. Consider your own sensibilities before you click)