The Associated Press has released a photo of Marine Lance Corporal Joshua Bernard, which graphically portrays the Marine shortly after being hit by a Rocket Propelled Grenade (RPG) during a firefight in the Helmland Province of Southern Afghanistan.  LCpl Bernard later died from the injuries suffered in the attack.

The parents of LCpl Bernard were shown the photograph from embedded reporter Julie Jacobson, who had been following the unit.  LCpl Bernard’s father, John Bernard, specifically requested that the AP not release the photograph, citing that it was disrespectful to his son’s memory.

Defense Secretary Robert Gates described the decision to release the photo in spite of the parents’ wishes, “appalling” and later wrote to the wire services CEO Thomas Curley, stating, “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.” I couldn’t agree more with the Defense Secretary.  It is disgraceful that the Associated Press would not honor the wishes of the bereaved family.  What kind of an organization wouldn’t go the extra mile to see that a family facing such hardship were comforted in any way possible, given the opportunity to do so, much less to disregard the one request they made from the organization.  This selfish, business first mentality, degrades human decency and serves no purpose other than to garner attention for themselves at the expense of a mourning family.  That, Mr. Curley, is simply evil!

I’m not sure on the legalities involved in such a move, but if it is possible, the Pentagon should consider revoking the imbedded reporter privilege that the AP currently abuses.  They have obviously shown they are not responsible or decent enough to responsibly utilize them. 

Ronald Williams maintains a political blog at www.silentnomoremajority.blogspot.com

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