Zoriah: War Photographer Diaries: Embed Terminated by Marine Corps
A few hours after posting my story on the suicide bombing in Anbar Province, I was woken up by a young marine who took me to receive a phone call. A high ranking Public Affairs Officer told me that they were requesting that I remove my blog post immediately. I asked on what grounds, as media rules state that wounded and killed soldiers may be portrayed in images as long as their name tags and identifiable features are not shown. I had made very sure my images followed those guidelines, asking a large number of soldiers on base if they could find anything at all that would identify the dead. I made sure of this primarily out of respect for the families.
I was told that the Marine Corps would not allow even the pants or shoes of a injured or killed Marine to be depicted in images, This was a rule I had never been told or even heard of and I refused to remove the blog post. It seemed insane to me that the Marines would embed a war photographer and then be upset when photographs were taken of war.
A few minutes later my embed was terminated and a convoy was arranged, despite a fierce sand storm, to bring me to Camp Fallujah where I would wait for the first flight out of the Marines area of operation into the Green Zone.
I am still waiting for my flight out, one day later. Apparently they fear that someone is angry enough to do me harm, as I now must go to the chow hall with two armed escorts. However, I have had five or more marines approach me on base and tell me that the images were the best and most powerful, real photographs of war they had ever seen and that they supported my choices 100%.
I truly labored with the decision to post these images and I still do. But in my heart of hearts I know that people need to see and feel the reality of this horrible situation. How can things change if all that comes out of Iraq are sanitized, white-washed images of war designed for mainstream media outlets who focus on making money instead of the quality and truth in what they report.
For the families of the Marines, interpreters and the Iraqi police and civilians killed in the attack, you have my deepest condolences. These men were attending a city council meeting and working together to better their community. They were doing a good thing when something terrible happened to them.
I have done everything I can to post images that are not in any way identifiable. I have photographed to the best of my ability, hoping to capture images that speak the truth yet capture the horror and senselessness of these kinds of attacks in a dignified, emotional and artistic way. I have made sure there are ample warnings that the post is very graphic and very disturbing. I put it on a separate page that contains even more warnings and buffer text and images before the graphic content is displayed to avoid anyone stumbling on it by accident.
If despite my safeguards these images end up hurting people, I offer you my sincerest apologies. Please know that my intent is to show the true nature of the horrors of war in hopes that this will deter others from committing or accepting senseless acts of violence.
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