Defense Secretary Robert Gates was unsuccessful in swaying the Associated Press from distributing a graphic photograph showing the final moments of Lance Cpl. Joshua M. Bernard’s life after the marine had been mortally wounded in Afghanistan.
The photo shows the 21-year-old being helped by squadmates shortly after suffering severe leg injuries in a Taliban ambush in southern Afghanistan in mid-August.
He was evacuated to a field hospital where he later died on the operating table.
In a letter to Associated Press President and CEO Thomas Curley, Gates said he was asking the AP to reconsider its decision to distribute the photo and called the decision "appalling" and lacking in "common decency."
Gates continued, "I cannot imagine the pain and suffering Lance Corporal Bernard's death has caused his family. Why your organization would purposefully defy the family's wishes knowing full well that it will lead to yet more anguish is beyond me. Your lack of compassion and common sense in choosing to put this image of their maimed and stricken child on the front page of multiple American newspapers is appalling.”