The War Without Blood

Hamill, Pete
September 2004
Quill;Sep2004 Supplement, p24
Trade Publication
This paper presents the author's observation on the censorship of war images in the field of journalism. The journalists of war, including those from many other nations, see sudden death in all of its disgusting variations. Journalists see soldiers broken into human fragments, doomed to be forever young. That is the goal of every war correspondent I have known: to see, and to tell the truth. That mission is being frustrated in the latest American war, the chaotic opera of violence called Iraq. One fundamental truth of the war--the killing of human beings--is not getting through. What we get to see is a war filled with wrecked vehicles: taxis, cars, Humvees, tanks, gasoline trucks. If soldiers are killed in a downed helicopter, they are photographed only from a long distance, so that their bodies resemble bundles of rags. This editing away of the unpleasant truth was true of other wars, of course, going back to World War One, when tight British, French and then American censorship prevented graphic coverage of the endless slaughters on the Western front. The people running the war realize that image is now everything. After 700 American military deaths in Iraq, there had not yet been a photograph of the arrival of flag-bedecked coffins at Dover Air Force Base. Photographers were barred by order of the Pentagon. Meanwhile, censorship and self-censorship continue. Both are driven by fear of the reactions of citizens.


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