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As a public affairs officer currently serving in Afghanistan, I must object to [Stars and Stripes ombudsman Mark J.] Prendergast’s conclusion regarding The Associated Press photo controversy ("A tough call on photo of dying Marine," column, Sept. 8).

While he does make a persuasive case of why some news outlets chose to publish the photo of a mortally wounded Marine, I hardly think the American public will "grow too fond of war" without such pictures. That might have been true in Robert E. Lee’s time, but not today. With the 24-hour news cycle and hundreds of embedded journalists in this theater alone, I think Americans are well-aware of the costs and sacrifices our forces and allies are making. And since the fallen Marine’s family objected to having the photo published, the AP and editors should have erred on the side of caution. The Bernard family should have been given the benefit of the doubt and had their wishes respected.

What possible value did publishing the photo serve? Instead of adding to the story, the photo has now become the story and compounded the grief Lance Cpl. Joshua Bernard’s family and comrades feel.

I think in the zeal some editors speak about a free press, they lose sight of the consequences of their actions.

Nothing will bring the Bernards’ son back, including not publishing that photo. But the story of Bernard’s courage and sacrifice still could have been told without that one particular photo being published.

Maj. James St.ClairKabul

EDITOR’S NOTE: Stars and Stripes chose not to publish the photo referred to in this letter. For a discussion of Stripes’ decision, see


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