Swept Under the Rug, Then Reclaimed

From Holden:

The Pentagon is forced to release 360 photographs of Bush’s war dead returning to America or buried at sea.

Just a short jet trail from the air force base where it all started, Ralph Begleiter announced Wednesday that the Department of Defense released to him and the National Security Archive 360 additional photographs of soldiers’ remains as they were returned to U.S. bases, from Dover to Hickam Air Force Base in Hawaii.

Begleiter, the 55-year-old former CNN reporter who is in his fifth year of teaching broadcast journalism at the University of Delaware, made the announcement while speaking to several dozen members of the Delaware Council for the Social Studies at its annual awards banquet at the Lobby House, near downtown.


To date, Begleiter has received 721 photographs from the Pentagon, 361 that were previously released. The newest batch of 360 are heavily edited and include at least one photograph of flag-covered coffins in a convoy of Humvees moving through an undisclosed war zone.

“We can declare victory for the American people and families of those in the caskets, those who have given their final sacrifice to their country,” Begleiter said.

Many of the photos have been “redacted,” Begleiter said, with faces or uniforms of soldiers carrying the remains blotted out.

In October, Begleiter filed a lawsuit against the U.S. Department of Defense and the Air Force asking for the release of the photographs and video. An attorney for the National Security Archive, a nonprofit research institute at George Washington University, helped Begleiter bring the Freedom of Information Act suit in U.S. District Court in Washington, D.C.


“We’re gratified that we were right on the principle that this kind of information should be in public domain,” said Meredith Fuchs, general counsel of the National Security Archive.

Both Fuchs and Begleiter, however, said they were disappointed it took a year to get the photos.

“It’s disturbing that it shows you how much politics can influence the control of information,” Fuchs said. “We asked for these records a year ago, and we didn’t get anything before the election.”