On Saturday, after being challenged in court by CNN, the Bush administration agreed not to prevent the news media from following the effort to recover the bodies of Hurricane Katrina victims.
But on Monday, in the Bywater district, that assurance wasn't being followed. The 82nd Airborne soldier told reporters the Army had a policy that requires media to be 300 meters -- more than three football fields in length -- away from the scene of body recoveries in New Orleans. If reporters wrote stories or took pictures of body recoveries, they would be reported and face consequences, he said, including a loss of access for up-close coverage of certain military operations...
...Government agencies may still refuse requests from members of the media to ride along, or be "embedded," on recovery boats as crews gather the dead. "But, to the extent the press can go out to the locations, they're free to do that," said Keith Wyatt, an assistant U.S. attorney, according to a transcript of the hearing. "They're free to take whatever pictures they can take."
Army Lt. Col. Richard Steele said the government's position as explained in court Saturday didn't represent a change in policy. Reporters can watch recovery efforts they come upon, but they won't be embedded with search teams.
"We're not going to bar, impede or prevent" the media from telling the story, he said. "We're just not going to give the media a ride."
Oh, from the same article on another issue, could it be that folks doing the work are simply too stressed out to think correctly, or are they just downright racist and disrespectful?
Dean Nugent, of the Louisiana State Coroner's Department, who accompanied the soldier, added that it wasn't safe to be in Bywater. "They'll kill you out here," he said, referring to the few residents who have continued to defy mandatory evacuation orders and remain in their homes."
"The cockroaches come out at night," he said of the residents. "This is one of the worst places in the country. You should not be here. Especially you," he told a female reporter.
Nugent, who is white, acknowledged he wasn't personally familiar with the poor, black neighborhood, saying he only knew of it by reputation...
...After the recovery team took away the St. Anthony Street body, two workers urinated on the side of a neighbor's house....