On the eve of the March 2003 U.S. invasion of Iraq, the Bush administration issued the following directive through the Pentagon:
"There will be no arrival ceremonies for, or media coverage of, deceased military personnel returning to or departing from Ramstein (Germany) air base or Dover base."
The Dover Air Base is the location of the largest Defense Department mortuary for the remains of soldiers, sailors, airmen, and Marines.
Defense Department spokeswoman Lt. Col. Cynthia Colin stated that the ban on media coverage stemmed from a respect for the families, "to protect their wishes and privacy during the time of greatest loss and grief." Though the "Dover policy" has existed since its creation by George H. W. Bush during the first Gulf War, it went unheeded by the Clinton administration.
"This year," Lt. Col. Colin said in late 2003, "we've really tried to enforce it."
To further sanitize the repercussions of the war, today's military doesn't even use the words "body bags" - a familiar term from the Vietnam War. During Bush's father's 1991 Gulf War, the Pentagon began calling them "human remains pouches."
Now, under Bush, the term for the returning dead is "transfer tubes."
To verify/research, Google: "Bush +Dover +directive."
- March 20, 2004