From the BBC: …Defence officials had banned publicity of the return of bodies from Iraq, but were forced to release images after a freedom-of-information court action. …When the photos began appearing on American websites on Thursday, the Bush administration reacted angrily, reportedly banning any further release of photos to media outlets. Read More

According to the Boston Globe, the photos were released to First Amendment activist Russ Kick, who runs The Memory Hole website. “The Memory Hole exists to preserve and spread material that is in danger of being lost, is hard to find, or is not widely known….The emphasis is on material that exposes things that we’re not supposed to know (or that we’re supposed to forget).” Lots of other interesting reading there, however it seems that site is really slow, presumably due to the attention stemming from the photos.

The New York Times also has an article on this (with several of the pictures), and they note that Among the national television news organizations, only the Fox News Channel had no plans to use any of the photos or explore the issue of why they had been barred from use in the news media, a channel spokesman said. Gotta love Fox News; unbiased reporting at its finest.

I don’t buy the Adminstration’s argument that the ban on these kinds of photos is necessary to protect the families of the dead soldiers. The photos I saw were very solemn and actually show how much care is taken to ensure that the soldiers bodies are treated in the most respectful manner possible. Looking at these pictures I was struck by how many coffins there were and filled with sadness at the thought that each box contained all that remained of someone who was certainly loved and missed. And then I thought of all those boxes making their way into towns across America and the grief of the families awaiting their arrival. And of course then you have to ask yourself it it was worth it. And that is why they don’t want us to see these pictures. An election-year president who has fully committed himself to this war cannot risk having the country decide that no, it isn’t worth it.

The MemoryHole servers appear to still be taking a beating, so I thought I would show a few of the tumbnails I managed to view. They’re in the US Soldiers photo album on the left. All photos are copyright of the United Stated Air Force.