First, there was the FEMA orders barring members of the press from photographing anything to do with the recovery of the bodies of the dead.
Perhaps there could be guidelines about photographs which in any way clearly identified the deceased. No one wants to get first confirmation of the death of a loved by seeing their bodies on the nightly news. But a blanket ban serves only to prevent the public from knowing what really happened. And the right of FEMA or the federal government at all on American soil to issue such a ban seems highly dubious to me. It's one thing with military casualties: the military operates under its own legal code and not under normal civilian rules. But this is happening on American soil. It's not a war zone. It's recovery from a natural disaster.
Now comes this post from Brian Williams, which suggests a general effort to bar reporters from access to many of the key points in the city. Take a moment to note what's happening here: these are the marks of repressive government, which mixes inefficiency with authoritarianism. The crew that couldn't get key aid on the scene last week is coming in in force now and taking as one of its key missions cutting public information about what's happening in the city.
Marshall's a partisan, but he's generally known for being quite even-toned about things. But Williams is anything but a raving leftist moonbat. From his blog post:
[A] police officer from out of town raised the muzzle of her weapon and aimed it at members of the media... obvious members of the media... armed only with notepads. Her actions (apparently because she thought reporters were encroaching on the scene) were over the top and she was told. There are automatic weapons and shotguns everywhere you look. It's a stance that perhaps would have been appropriate during the open lawlessness that has long since ended on most of these streets. Someone else points out on television as I post this: the fact that the National Guard now bars entry (by journalists) to the very places where people last week were barred from LEAVING (The Convention Center and Superdome) is a kind of perverse and perfectly backward postscript to this awful chapter in American history.
This is what we're spending a billion dollars and far too many American lives a day to preserve? This third-world banana republic sort of repression? Poorly trained thugs with weapons, threatening reporters in our own country...reporters armed only with notepads and cameras? Why would it occur to that police officer for even a second that pointing her weapon at reporters was an appropriate response? Where on earth does she think she lives?
The fourth anniversary of 9/11 is mere days away. Looking around at what we're becoming, I'd say the terrorists are most definitely winning this war.