Tuesday :: Sep 13, 2005

Pentagon Preventing Media From Covering New Orleans Body Removal Activities


by Steve

Despite backing down in the face of a CNN lawsuit challenging a government ban dealing with the victim recovery process in New Orleans, the Pentagon told the media Monday that they would not be allowed to take pictures or report the removal of bodies. In fact, the 82nd Airborne told reporters Monday that the Pentagon had a policy that the media had to be kept 300 meters away from any recovery efforts, or risk being detained and thrown out of the state.

Really, the Pentagon already has a policy that allows them such authority within the United States? Where is that policy that pertains to New Orleans?

Outside one house on Kentucky Street, a member of the Army 82nd Airborne Division summoned a reporter and photographer standing nearby and told them that if they took pictures or wrote a story about the body recovery process, he would take away their press credentials and kick them out of the state.
"No photos. No stories," said the man, wearing camouflage fatigues and a red beret.
On Saturday, after being challenged in court by CNN, the Bush administration agreed not to prevent the news media from following the effort to recover the bodies of Hurricane Katrina victims.
But on Monday, in the Bywater district, that assurance wasn't being followed. The 82nd Airborne soldier told reporters the Army had a policy that requires media to be 300 meters -- more than three football fields in length -- away from the scene of body recoveries in New Orleans. If reporters wrote stories or took pictures of body recoveries, they would be reported and face consequences, he said, including a loss of access for up-close coverage of certain military operations.
Dean Nugent, of the Louisiana State Coroner's Department, who accompanied the soldier, added that it wasn't safe to be in Bywater. "They'll kill you out here," he said, referring to the few residents who have continued to defy mandatory evacuation orders and remain in their homes."
"The cockroaches come out at night," he said of the residents. "This is one of the worst places in the country. You should not be here. Especially you," he told a female reporter.
Nugent, who is white, acknowledged he wasn't personally familiar with the poor, black neighborhood, saying he only knew of it by reputation.
Later Monday, the recovery team collected a body from a green house on St. Anthony Street in nearby Seventh Ward. The dead man, who was slipped into a black body bag and carried out to one of the white vans, had been lying alone on the living room floor for nearly two weeks, neighbors said.
"I told them weeks ago he was in there," said Barry Dominguez, 39, who lives across the street and has refused to leave the neighborhood he grew up in.
After the recovery team took away the St. Anthony Street body, two workers urinated on the side of a neighbor's house.

Why exactly is the Pentagon preventing the media from covering these activities in broad daylight?

Steve :: 12:48 PM :: Comments (48) :: TrackBack (0) :: Digg It!