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Pentagon Apologizes to CBS for Tape Delay

By Howard Kurtz
The Pentagon has apologized to CBS for the lengthy delay in turning over network footage of President Obama's visit to Iraq on Tuesday.

Television executives waited much of the day yesterday for CBS, the pool network, to provide the tape. But the handoff was bungled when soldiers could not find the CBS representative outside Camp Victory, and the video was not transmitted until minutes before the 6:30 p.m. EST newscasts.

"This was an important mission and that apparently didn't translate to those given the task of providing them to you," Joseph Edstrom, a spokesman for Gen. Raymond Odierno, the U.S. commander in Iraq, wrote the network. "The right thing to do would have been to wait at the gate until you showed. That didn't happen.... Please accept my humble apologies for this unfortunate mishap."

CBS spokesman Jeff Ballabon accepted the apology, saying his network "followed the protocol" set by White House and military officials.

But Pentagon spokesman Bryan Whitman said "CBS made this a lot harder than it had to be" by declining an offer for the military to transmit the tape by satellite from Saddam Hussein's former palace, forcing a hand delivery "that requires a secured military convoy from Camp Victory." A CBS executive said the network considered that method unreliable.

By Web Politics Editor  |  April 8, 2009; 4:26 PM ET
Categories:  Media Notes  
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"Anti-choice" is not "pro-life" (for instance, women still have the CHOICE to have sex or not). After that point, affirmatively KILLING unborn babies is where I draw the line. On the other end of the continuum, people unfortunately die in wars and healthcare decisions all the time.

Posted by: JakeD | April 9, 2009 7:51 PM | Report abuse

Yes, Bush's "Pro-Life" record: 4000 soldiers dead in his wars. 100k Iraqi civilians, dead. Millions more Americans with no health insurance and living in poverty.

Oh and sorry JakeD, after 8 years of Bush women still have some control left over whether they decide to reproduce. So, if "anti-choice" is "pro-life" to you then you are still losing.

Posted by: marSF | April 9, 2009 5:37 PM | Report abuse

No, I did not - don't be hurt! I'm planning a trip and doing ten things at once.

Mmmm...don't think F-102s demand the same type of competence as does the presidency...although there was a REASON (many reasons actually) they redesigned them as F-106s...

Posted by: achilli | April 8, 2009 11:03 PM | Report abuse

P.S. did you even read the article I linked to?

Posted by: JakeD | April 8, 2009 9:43 PM | Report abuse

Nope, I do not have to admit that he was "crashingly" incompetent -- just look at their pro-life records -- besides, a man who couldn't find his ass with both hands couldn't fly F-102s either ; )

Posted by: JakeD | April 8, 2009 9:41 PM | Report abuse

CBS should apologize to the US for their existence.

Posted by: fenoy | April 8, 2009 9:40 PM | Report abuse

I imagine that families of military will start thinking about their wishes - and making them known - on this media coverage matter well in advance of the actual fact of their loved ones dying - this is just going to be another in a series of decisions, similar to those about the type of service, casket or cremation, funeral or memorial service, etc. all made upon deployment to a war zone or even before that.

Pretending that they are going to be hit with this decision for the first time when they are informed of the loss and the casket actually arrives at Dover is disingenuous. C'mon.

Posted by: achilli | April 8, 2009 9:39 PM | Report abuse

Well, you are succeeding with the folksy - I'll give you that. As for Bush - you're certainly willing to be the rugged individualist on this one - his approval ratings dropped below 50% a long, long time ago (seems like back in the Truman Administration, but that can't be...?). Regardless, I think that even if you found Bush to be honest and trustworthy, you have to admit that he was just crashingly incompetent - the man couldn't find his ass with both hands. By the end, I think more Republicans jumped ship not because they felt Bush didn't share their ideology, but because he was such a goof.

As I said, though, we do have to treat these presidents separately. I mean, your determination to find Obama ineligible has nothing to do with your determination that Bush was an OK president, does it? Or is it as I fear, part of a cohesive whole that says "ideologue" all over it - ?

C'mon, man - break the box - you CAN find Obama a poor president, ineligible and scary WHILE admitting Bush was Col. Klink without the monocle.

Posted by: achilli | April 8, 2009 9:24 PM | Report abuse

The Charles C. Carson Center for Mortuary Affairs should be completely off-limits to all press. Families could be told that a separate facility is available off-base if they want to hold a press conference.

The loss of a loved one is the worst thing a family has to deal with, and the Defense Department's goal is to respect the privacy and wishes of service members' families. Meg Falk, director of the Defense Department's Office of Family Policy, said: "It's a time of grief, of loss. The families are in shock, in disbelief," she added. "Over the years, the families have told us that their privacy is very important. They don't want to see on TV a casket that might contain their loved one's remains before they've had a chance to grieve."

Out of respect for families' privacy, defense officials did not allow arrival ceremonies for, or media coverage of deceased military personnel returning to or departing from Dover Air Force Base or Ramstein Air Force Base in Germany, or any other site where remains are transferred.

All four service branches participated in the formulation of this policy, said Mark Ward, senior policy advisor for casualty, mortuary and funeral honors. "It was based solely on protecting and keeping the considerations and concerns of the families," he said.

The Carson Center is a mortuary, Falk said, and it is inappropriate for media to be at a mortuary.

"The mission of a mortuary is to prepare remains with dignity, care and respect," she added. "If we expose that process to the media we lose that."

The Defense Department policy had been in effect since the Persian Gulf War in 1991, Falk said. Defense officials reissued the policy in November 2001 at the start of Operation Enduring Freedom, and again in March 2003 to cover all military operations.

During Operation Desert Storm, some media and other organizations challenged this policy, claiming the First Amendment allowed them access to Dover. However, the courts supported the policy, and in 1996 the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit upheld the decision.

The court's decision was based on reducing the hardship of families and friends of the deceased, who may feel obligated to travel great distances to attend arrival ceremonies if such ceremonies were held, Falk said.

"To expose a loved one's casket or themselves to the media is a '180' from the respect that we owe that family," she added.

Posted by: JakeD | April 8, 2009 9:16 PM | Report abuse


Actually, "alot" (or "a lot") isn't even proper English (I use it to convey a folksy conversational-tone via this highly impersonable medium and to prove that I am not just a computer program or hidden away on some Jap island ; )

We will simply have to agree to disagree on whether Bush untrustworthy, incompetent and/or dishonest.


I don't have to "try again". I know exactly what the legal meaning of "informed consent" is, and it doesn't hinge on being mentally ill. Please quote exactly what you think I posted that "skew(s) the facts about the caskets". Of course the families can decide if they want media coverage, as evident in MY question: "Why should the press even intrude to ASK for permission?"

Posted by: JakeD | April 8, 2009 8:18 PM | Report abuse

Oh, and of course they are in a position to give consent. They aren't mentally ill. Are you calling the families of fallen soldiers mentally ill?

Posted by: rdy4all2000 | April 8, 2009 7:58 PM | Report abuse

Hey JakeD

Way to skew the facts about the caskets at Dover AFB. The families get to decide if they want media coverage.

Thanks, try again...

Posted by: rdy4all2000 | April 8, 2009 7:57 PM | Report abuse

JakeD, you are forever asking if people would have treated the Obama Pentagon, Justice Department, EPA, etc. the same as their Bush counterparts.

The answer is no, of course not - because Obama has not proven thus far to be anywhere near as untrustworthy, incompetent (especially incompetent) or dishonest as Bush - is this surprising? Do you treat idiots the same as you do competent people? Thieves the same as you do the honest? You seem to have a hard time accepting that people make different assumptions about Obama than they did about Bush. Don't you understand why?

You seem to be the last one getting the memo, guy. Are you sure you're not communicating with us using a Japanese Imperial Army radio from a cave somewhere on Saipan rather than an iPhone?

Yes - steel melts (depending on the alloy) at around 2500 degrees F. And "a lot" is two separate words.

Posted by: achilli | April 8, 2009 7:51 PM | Report abuse

Posted by: scrivener50 | April 8, 2009 7:43 PM | Report abuse

You've never heard of "RSS feed"? No OCD or other mental disorder needed : )

Posted by: JakeD | April 8, 2009 7:26 PM | Report abuse

Yes JakeD, you must rise and protect grief-stricken families because OF COURSE they must being showing "clouded" judgement when they decide that it is important for the public to witness the true cost of war.

People who lose family members make decisions every day about how they want funerals handled.

You do seem to have OCD when it comes to posting on EVERY article in this forum. It is actually scarier that you check in constantly on an iPhone. You must be a joy to live with.

Posted by: marSF | April 8, 2009 7:05 PM | Report abuse


You never answered my second question: "does steel melt?"

Posted by: JakeD | April 8, 2009 6:54 PM | Report abuse


Grief-stricken families are in no position to give informed consent. Why should the press even intrude to ASK for permission?! As for posting here all the time, I didn't post at all this past weekend, Monday afternoon, or Tuesday morning. I alos don't post when I am sleeping. Get an iPhone and then you can post alot too.

Posted by: JakeD | April 8, 2009 6:44 PM | Report abuse

JakeD. How surprising to find you here ALL HOURS OF THE DAY.

The families of fallen soldiers GIVE PERMISSION if they want media coverage when their loved ones come home.

You are just so completely full of it. Why can you not just go away?

Posted by: marSF | April 8, 2009 6:40 PM | Report abuse


Let's test that then. Do you support Obama allowing the press to intrude on families of fallen soldiers as their loved ones return in caskets?

Posted by: JakeD | April 8, 2009 6:33 PM | Report abuse


the Pentagon uses the media to get their message out all the time-- and the media does want it wants to with the message.

I am not a big fan of press, even though I have worked within the genre.

Posted by: TheBabeNemo | April 8, 2009 6:30 PM | Report abuse

More importantly, why didn't CBS broadcast the video of Obama bowing to the Saudi king?

Posted by: JakeD | April 8, 2009 6:30 PM | Report abuse

yes jake i would...
the press never comes first when it comes to our troops...
no matter who is holding the office of the presidency.

Posted by: TheBabeNemo | April 8, 2009 6:26 PM | Report abuse

1) CBS didn't have a courier available to accept delivery of this tape.

2) Somehow it's the military's fault for not delivering it to the non-existant courier.

Way to go, CBS.

Where's the apology from CBS for bungling the delivery?

Posted by: rmlwj1 | April 8, 2009 6:19 PM | Report abuse

Not hard to conjecture that somebody in the Pentagon chain wanted to limit the availability of this triumphant visit to the news cycle. A bit of evidence to support that would be CBS's reluctance to let the military hold onto the tape then feed it from the green zone. There was military gamesmanship here. Imagine that.

Posted by: MichaelGorse | April 8, 2009 5:27 PM | Report abuse


Are you sure you feel the same way if BUSH's Pentagon had mysteriously "lost" the tape for a few hours? Quick: does steel melt?

Posted by: JakeD | April 8, 2009 4:46 PM | Report abuse

Oh Nemo. The Pentagon uses the media to get their message out all the time.

Posted by: HillMan | April 8, 2009 4:46 PM | Report abuse

tell CBS to go jump in the lake...
our men and women are not over there to run around and appease a television station - PERIOD !

Posted by: TheBabeNemo | April 8, 2009 4:40 PM | Report abuse

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