The Senate voted Monday 52 to 38 to approve a "sense of the Senate" resolution supporting the Pentagon ban on media coverage of the return of deceased U.S. military personnel to the U.S.
The amendment, to a DOD appropriations bill, had been introduced by Senator John Warner (R. Va.), former Secretary of the Navy. Senator Frank Lautenberg(D-N.J.) introduced an amendment that would have permitted the coverage but, not surprisingly, it was voted down.
Lautenberg said that the administration decision not to allow coverage came just as the Iraq war began. "Go to your constituents," he said to those who had voted for the ban, "and tell them that it was not appropriate to show those flag-draped coffins" in tribute to those fallen soldiers.
He pointed out that President Ronald Reagan had used the return of flag-draped coffins to honor the marines killed in Lebanon, as had President Bill Clinton with those killed in Kosovo.
Media coverage of U.S. casualties in Iraq has become something of a flash point for those on both sides of the war, as illustrated by the controversy surrounding Nightline's decision to run the pictures and names of the war dead.
Voting for the ban was Senator John McCain, a Vietnam vet, former POW and supporter of the war, if not a supporter of some of the administration's policies toward it. Democratic Senator Joe Lieberman, another supporter of the war, voted against it.