Thursday, July 10, 2008

Arlington Cemetery official fired for honoring the wishes of the families of deceased Iraq war soldiers. The Bush admin. wants no media coverage.

Joe Sudbay (DC), Usually, Dana Milbank's column in the Washington Post is a snarky take on Washington politics and politicians. Not today. He writes about Gina Gray, who got fired from her job at Arlington Cemetery. It's a must read about the continuing disrespect shown to the men and women who gave their lives for this country in the Iraq war.
After more than five years, the Bush administration still tries to hide the dead from Iraq -- refusing to let the families fully honor the soldiers who died. Right across the Potomac River from the White House, in a city crawling with press and t.v. cameras, the funerals of the fallen are conducted in a news blackout -- even when the families want the coverage. Gina Gray, who tried to change the procedures, got fired. If it's not the deplorable conditions at Walter Reed, which is just down 16th Street, from the White House, it's dishonoring the dead at Arlington. Yet, George Bush still claims to support the troops. It's beyond appalling:
When Gina Gray took over as the public affairs director at Arlington National cemetery about three months ago, she discovered that cemetery officials were attempting to impose new limits on media coverage of funerals of the Iraq war dead -- even after the fallen warriors' families granted permission for the coverage. She said that the new restrictions were wrong and that Army regulations didn't call for such limitations.
Six weeks after The Washington Post reported her efforts to restore media coverage of funerals, Gray was demoted. Twelve days ago, the Army fired her.
"Had I not put my foot down, had I just gone along with it and not said regulations were being violated, I'm sure I'd still be there," said the jobless Gray, who, over lunch yesterday in Crystal City, recounted what she is certain is her retaliatory dismissal. "It's about doing the right thing."
Army Secretary Pete Geren, in an interview last night, said he couldn't comment on Gray's firing. But he said the overall policy at Arlington is correct. "It appears to me that we've struck the right balance, consistent with the wishes of the family," the secretary said.
They've struck the balance ordered by the Bush administration.

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