IRAQ: Where is the Press?

05/20/2005 12:06 pm ET | Updated May 25, 2011

In her posting of May 19, Arianna Huffington asserts that the War in Iraq is "not only founded on lies but conducted on lies." "The Bush White House, she says, has "proven itself incapable of leveling with the American people." This is certainly right.

What puzzles me most about this state of affairs is the behavior of the press. A single example will make my point. During World War II, the Korean War, and the Vietnam War, Americans routinely saw images and film footage of the grim realities of war, including American soldiers fighting and dying and civilians inadvertently injured or killed by American fire. If a democracy is to fight a war, it is essential that citizens understand the real costs of combat.

It is understandable that a war administration would want to prevent Americans from seeing such images. But that is why we have a "free press." Its responsibility is to provide us with news, information, and images that the government would rather us not see. So, whereas Huffington rightly asks, "Where are the Democrats," I ask, "Where is the press?"

When was the last time you saw combat footage of American soldiers wounded or dead? When was the last time you saw footage of Iraqi civilians inadvertently killed by American fire? Of course, such images are deeply painful. But they are critical to the proper functioning of a self-governing society. Such images do not exist, however, in the American media. Surely, the embeds must be seeing something in Iraq other than military vehicles bouncing their way through the desert.

These images do exist, of course. You can see them on European television and on the Internet. But not on American television. Why is this so? Who is making these decisions? This is one of the great mysteries of this war. And it is deeply troubling. We know how far the Bush White House has gone to prevent us from seeing coffins. How far has it gone to prevent us from seeing the casualties of war? This is, indeed, a war "conducted on lies." And where, or where, is the press?