Three journalists for the Associated Press present when grenade explosion took off the leg of a Marine, Cpl. Joshua “Bernie” Bernard, in Afghanistan on August 14, in the middle of the deadliest month in that country for U.S. forces since 2001. They wrote a story about it, and published a photo of it. Defense Secretary Robert Gates is furious because Bernard’s family asked that the photo not be published. Gates writes in a letter to the Associated Press:
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
Suffice it to say, the article itself is a fine piece of journalism, a narrative glimpse of the terror and horror of war, which is so rarely represented in the U.S. media. The story begins with a young man’s death, and it takes us to the front porch of his parents house in New Portland, Maine. It can be read here. It reads in part:
That night, officers assembled the platoon in a darkened room of the run-down house where the Marines had camped after taking Dahaneh two days earlier. There the officers delivered the news: Bernard had died of a blood clot in his heart on the operating table. He was Golf Company’s third fatality since arriving in Afghanistan in May.
Bernard was the 19th American to die in Afghanistan in August. Fifty-one Marines, soldiers and seamen lost their lives that month. Of the 739 Americans killed in and around Afghanistan since 2001, 151 died last year and 180 so far this year.