Contractor fired for military coffin photo

Discussion in 'Current Events' started by lilcountriegal, Apr 23, 2004.

  1. lilcountriegal
    Offline

    lilcountriegal Senior Member

    Joined:
    Oct 24, 2003
    Messages:
    1,633
    Thanks Received:
    59
    Trophy Points:
    48
    Location:
    Pennsylvania
    Ratings:
    +59
    Contractor Fired for Military Coffin Photo
    Pentagon Restricts Pictures of Coffins Carrying Slain Soldiers
    By Sue Pleming, Reuters

    WASHINGTON (April 22) - A U.S. contractor and her husband have been fired after her photograph of 20 flag-draped coffins of American troops going home from Iraq was published in violation of military rules.

    ''I lost my job and they let my husband go as well,'' Tami Silicio, who loaded U.S. military cargo at Kuwait International Airport for a U.S. company, told Reuters in an e-mail response to questions.

    The Pentagon tightly restricts publication of photographs of coffins with the remains of U.S. troops and has forbidden journalists from taking pictures at Dover Air Force Base in Delaware, the first stop for the bodies of troops being sent home.

    John Molino, a deputy undersecretary of defense who oversees the policy, told reporters the Pentagon was not involved in the decision to fire Silicio, but refused to say whether she should be rehired.

    Molino said the policy, in effect since 1991, was crafted with input from families to protect the privacy and dignity of the deceased. Critics have said the rules were aimed at sanitizing the war for the public.

    But the Air Force said that, in response to a Freedom of Information Act request, it released to a Web site (http://www.thememoryhole.org) on April 14 more than 300 photographs showing the remains of U.S. service members returning home.

    Lt. Col. Jennifer Cassidy, an Air Force spokeswoman, said the request to make the photographs public initially was denied by Dover Air Force Base, then was granted by the Air Force Air Mobility Command. But Cassidy said the Pentagon had decided the release violated its own rules and had decided no further copies of the pictures will be made public.

    The Seattle Times printed Silicio's photograph last weekend and again on Thursday. The picture shows soldiers tending to 20 coffins completely covered with American flags on April 7 inside a military cargo plane at the Kuwait airport.

    Silicio, who was raised in the Seattle area, was not paid by the newspaper for the picture, which a friend in the United States, Amy Katz, passed on to the newspaper. Katz said she had since found an agent to sell the photograph.

    Silicio's former employer, Colorado-based Maytag Aircraft Corp., a subsidiary of Mercury Air Group Inc., said the couple was dismissed for violating U.S. government and company regulations.

    ''Maytag deeply regrets these actions and fully concurs with the Pentagon's policy of respecting the remains of our brave men and women who have fallen in service to our country,'' said Maytag President William Silva.

    Molino said his office had no part in Silicio's dismissal.

    "We don't want the remains of our service members who have made the ultimate sacrifice to be the subject of any kind of attention that is unwarranted or undignified"
    -Pentagon official

    ''I indicated that I didn't think it would be appropriate for the Pentagon to take any sanctions against her,'' he said.

    Asked whether the policy was intended to keep Americans in the dark about the fact that the bodies of U.S. troops are returning regularly from Iraq, Molino said, ''I don't see that as our motivation.''

    ''To be very frank with you, we don't want the remains of our service members who have made the ultimate sacrifice to be the subject of any kind of attention that is unwarranted or undignified,'' he said.

    Katz said Silicio, whose own son died from an illness, took the picture to show the ''respectful death ritual'' for slain soldiers and not to make money or become famous. Other contractors and soldiers had taken similar pictures, she said.

    ''Tami Silicio was only pledging allegiance to our flag and to our heroes laying beneath it,'' Katz said.

    Since the start of the war in March 2003, more than 700 U.S. troops have died in Iraq, with more than 100 killed this month, the Pentagon said.

    **ON EDIT** Sorry Jim.. forgot the link. http://aolsvc.news.aol.com/news/article.adp?id=20040422132909990007
     
  2. 5stringJeff
    Offline

    5stringJeff Senior Member

    Joined:
    Sep 15, 2003
    Messages:
    9,990
    Thanks Received:
    536
    Trophy Points:
    48
    Location:
    Puyallup, WA
    Ratings:
    +540
    This is really interesting. On one hand, there's freedom of speech issues. On the other hand, there is a clear DoD directives that bans these kind of pictures. The press is very good about working within the confines of DoD restrictions on pictures, interviews, etc. This contractor, well intentions aside, broke the rules. It is unfortunate, but the rule is there for a reason.
     
  3. Merlin1047
    Offline

    Merlin1047 Senior Member

    Joined:
    Mar 28, 2004
    Messages:
    3,500
    Thanks Received:
    449
    Trophy Points:
    48
    Location:
    AL
    Ratings:
    +450
    I have worked for a civilian contractor providing flight training services ever since I retired from the Army. One amazing thing that I have discovered is that military personnel may ignore their own regulations when it suits their purposes, but civilians are expected to strictly adhere to even the most minute requirements.

    Go figure.
     
  4. DKSuddeth
    Offline

    DKSuddeth Senior Member

    Joined:
    Oct 20, 2003
    Messages:
    5,175
    Thanks Received:
    61
    Trophy Points:
    48
    Location:
    North Texas
    Ratings:
    +62
    I never did agree with the DoD on this one. It reeks of sanitation to the masses in order to keep the war 'clean'.
     
  5. lilcountriegal
    Offline

    lilcountriegal Senior Member

    Joined:
    Oct 24, 2003
    Messages:
    1,633
    Thanks Received:
    59
    Trophy Points:
    48
    Location:
    Pennsylvania
    Ratings:
    +59
    I really dont see a problem with this... however, she did break the rules.

    As long as she wasnt seeking monetary compensation for use of these pictures, I think its being blown out of proportion.
     
  6. jimnyc
    Offline

    jimnyc ...

    Joined:
    Aug 28, 2003
    Messages:
    10,113
    Thanks Received:
    244
    Trophy Points:
    83
    Location:
    New York
    Ratings:
    +246
    Maybe she didn't directly try to make money off these photos, but her friend did:

    Friend of Fired Photog Selling Pic of GI Coffins

    A woman who was fired from her job as a cargo handler in Kuwait on Wednesday for photographing caskets of GIs killed in Iraq gave her friend the rights to the picture and the friend has retained an agent to help sell the photo.

    Tami Silicio, who worked for the Maytag Aircraft Corporation, took the picture on April 7 in direct violation of Pentagon rules while working for the U.S. Government at the Kuwait airport.

    Silicio, who is not a professional photographer, asked her friend, Amy Katz, to forward the image to The Seattle Times, whose decision to publish the picture last weekend kicked off a firestorm of controversy.

    "Tami wanted to share the image with the American people," Katz insisted, saying her friend thought it was a way to honor the fallen troops.

    But Thursday editions of the Sydney Morning Herald report: "On Wednesday Ms. Silicio engaged an agent, who offered her photograph to newspaper outlets for $1400 for one-time, non-exclusive use."

    http://www.newsmax.com/archives/ic/2004/4/23/01721.shtml
     
  7. lilcountriegal
    Offline

    lilcountriegal Senior Member

    Joined:
    Oct 24, 2003
    Messages:
    1,633
    Thanks Received:
    59
    Trophy Points:
    48
    Location:
    Pennsylvania
    Ratings:
    +59
    Yep. I'm thoroughly disgusted now.

    Thanks for that info, Jim. I'm now no longer indifferent on this issue.
     
  8. jimnyc
    Offline

    jimnyc ...

    Joined:
    Aug 28, 2003
    Messages:
    10,113
    Thanks Received:
    244
    Trophy Points:
    83
    Location:
    New York
    Ratings:
    +246
    GI Casket Photog Sued Cheney in 2000

    A cargo handler in Kuwait fired from her job this week for photographing the caskets of GIs killed in Iraq, along with the friend who helped her get the photograph published in the Seattle Times, say their decision to go public had nothing to do with politics.

    But it turns out that four years ago the duo, Tami Silicio and Amy Katz, sued Halliburton, then run by Vice President Dick Cheney, naming Cheney in the suit.

    Reports unearthed by KTTH Seattle radio host Mike Siegel reveal that Katz and Silicio, who was fired Wednesday for violating Pentagon's policy against photographing the caskets of slain GI's, sued Halliburton for sexual harassment while they worked for the company's subsidiary, Brown & Root, in Kosovo.

    The Sept. 2000 lawsuit claimed that it was discriminatory for the company to accommodate Arab cultural customs by maintaining separate bathrooms for host country nationals and Americans.

    "I was totally outraged. I refused to use the ones for the Americans,” Katz told CBS News at the time. "I tried to explain that I thought this was terrible and it was my way of protesting it.”

    Katz was joined in her legal complaint against Cheney's company by Silicio, who has been the subject of a torrent of sympathetic media coverage since her dismissal from her a different contractor, Maytag Aircraft, was announced on Thursday.

    http://www.newsmax.com/archives/ic/2004/4/23/114319.shtml
     

Share This Page