Obama administration reviewing photo ban from first Bush administration

Jason Werling
Mar 23, 2010

Our online producer and fellow photojournalist Abigail Bobrow approached me about a blog topic today and I'm glad she did.

I hadn't been to the NPPA (National Press Photographers Association) Website recently and the hot topic is the Dover photo ban and HR 269, the "Fallen Hero Commemoration Act." This isn't just a hot topic with NPPA, the White House News Photographers Association has joined in and many news organizations, like the Philadelphia Inquirer are echoing the call.

See, under the first Bush administration in 1991 and the Persian Gulf War a ban has been in effect to photograph and/or videotape the ceremony known as the "dignified transfer of remains." It is the weekly transfer of the remains of fallen U.S. troops to a runway at Dover Air Force Base. The ceremony involves an eight-man military honor guard removing the metal, flag-draped, coffins.

The argument for banning the photos is the possible political exploitation of the fallen soldiers. Arguments against the ban say they show the toll of war and respect and ceremony given to our fallen soldiers.

Photos of this ceremony have been released through a Freedom of Information Act request, but are otherwise banned. President Obama and his administration are reviewing the ban and the possibility of overturning it.

A couple related NPPA links...

President Obama says Dover photo ban "under review"

WHNPA joins NPPA in call To end Dover photo ban


** FILE ** In this file photo, date unknown, made by the U.S. Department of Defense and obtained by thememoryhole.org, flag-draped coffins of U.S .war casualties are seen aboard a cargo plane in Dover, Del. President Barack Obama said Monday, Feb. 9, 2009, his administration is reviewing a policy that bans the media from photographing flag-draped coffins of fallen U.S. soldiers. The president says his advisers are discussing with the Defense Department the prohibition on pictures of coffins returning from Iraq and Afghanistan.(AP Photo/thememoryhole.org/file)