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April 16, 2013

War and Terror: What Shocks Me Most About the Bloody Marathon Bombing Pictures (GRAPHIC)

Boston Globe Marathon Terror front page.png

What takes me aback are how graphic the news photos are (#8 especiallyas compared to the almost total visual censorship of American war casualties over the past twelve years.

Soldier remains US helicopter crash Gerakhel Afghanistan

After the battle over Julie Jacobson’s AP image of a wounded U.S. soldier from afar in Iraq, and the censorship detailed by NYT war photographer Michael Kamber in our POY-winning audio slideshow in 2011, what was just as surprising to me was the quiet publication last week of even this buttoned up image of a U.S. military fatality after a helicopter crash in Eastern Afghanistan. (Here’s the slideshow.)

Yes, I’m having trouble reconciling the bloody images from Boston yesterday when they very well might exceed in a day the number of media images of U.S. deaths and even casualites in the Iraq and Afghanistan battlefield over more than a decade. That’s in light, of course, of the use of the terrorism label by the White House yesterday which automatically repurposes the symbolism of the U.S. flag in so many of those blood-stained images.

John Tlumacki Boston Marathon bombing sidewalk

In this case, where do you re-plant it?

Boston Marathon Bombing US flags.png

It can’t be lost on the viewer, if even subliminally — all these pictures by Boston Globe photographer John Tlumacki having gone viral — that the flag is not just sotted but stepped on.

Boston Marathon bombing victim John Tlumacki

It took a second pass to consider this a war photo — if you notice the fatigues.

(photos 1 & 3-5: John Tlumacki—The Boston Globe. photo 2: Rahmat Gul/AP. caption: The remains of two U.S. soldiers are wrapped in an American flag and body bags after a NATO helicopter crashed killing two American service members, in a field near Gerakhel, eastern Afghanistan, Tuesday, April 9, 2013. The U.S.-led International Security Assistance Force said the cause of the crash is under investigation but initial reporting indicates there was no enemy activity in the area at the time. It did not immediately identify the nationalities of those killed. But a senior U.S. official confirmed they were Americans.)

  • Jack

    It’s pretty clear that we don’t get photos like this from the overseas war zones because the government doesn’t want the public to see those photos.

    The government does want us to see photos from terrorism attacks in the US. If the attack is “homegrown” terrorism it will be a way of influencing a jury. If it’s terrorism from overseas, it will be used to justify military intervention.

    • richard head

      A lot of the footage of the aftermath of the Boston bombing is from private individuals and media organizations. It doesn’t matter what “the government wants”. Even if they wanted to, it’s not like they would or could confiscate every bit of footage of the event. But don’t let me knock your tinfoil hat off. Proceed.

  • Brian

    That, or that virtually everyone here has a camera on them at all times. In Afghanistan, unless there is an embedded journalist, no one is trying to take photos for the 24/7 news channel’s. Not everything is a government conspiracy. Additionally a terrorist attack in Boston is going to garner more coverage as it is unusual. As the Atlantic puts it, the very nature of it being unusual is what makes it news. After over a decade of war in Afghanistan, a bomb going off killing someone isn’t news to the majority of the American public. If it was on the news they wouldn’t even give it a second thought.

    • Nigel Humphries

      Perhaps if a few more images of dead Afghani and Pakistani children made it on to the front page of American newspapers, it would be given more than a second thought.

    • SarahBJones

      Your memory doesn’t serve you well. Vietnam was all OVER the media…and the government has been absolutely explicit about not wanting coverage of wars since then.

      I would ask, if we had been shown footage since 10 years would the war still look like it does? Would people be so quiet about it?

      Some argue “Americans don’t care.” I call BS on that as well – they don’t know they should care because they aren’t given news. Americans aren’t stupid and un-empathic. Many more would care if more mainstream news channels started reporting more & simple reports about things that mattered.

    • Andy Barta

      The media still has to get the go ahead from the gov to report anything. Thanks to the new unconstitutional government that has expanded propaganda and its war efforts. Our news is by and large just a point of view that we are allowed to have. Very little truth anymore. They clamped down on freedom of the press (security reasons). Perhaps they should do more bomb finding in the bomb drills that they ran before the bombs went off. Its just odd to have bomb drills, and then bombs go off where they had the drills. Maybe I do not understand why they had the drills or what the drills actually do. It is my understanding that bomb sniffing dogs would have found those bombs. How on the ball was the bomb squad? Did they know where the bombs were before hand? Seemed like lots of confusion, except for where to go disarm more bombs. Just saying. If you think dropping your conspiracy theory rhetoric helps anything you are wrong. Truth is our government has been in the business of war and terror for a long time. Before you write it off as conspiracy, consider that there is an abundance of conspiracies proven true. Example: Operations northwoods. Just some food for thought.

    • barryfreed

      The fact that you are ignorant about something does not make it a
      “conspiracy”. With 2 minutes of googling you can easily find thousands
      of graphic photos of both dead and injured American soldiers and those
      of our many victims, going back to the first day we invaded Afghanistan
      to today. The fact that from the beginning these pictures were not
      shown is not a theory or a conspiracy. They were never shown, because
      that’s not the picture the government and their media lackeys want to
      paint. For you to suggest that images of the graphic results of our
      many violent attacks aren’t show because they don’t exist or aren’t news
      is not only ignorant, but insulting to all thinking people.

  • Brian

    I wonder why my comment was deleted? Don’t want an alternate viewpoint to get out there?

    • SarahBJones

      Your comment shows up just fine, Mr.”Not everything is a government conspiracy”

  • MaxHubert

    I have seen some way worst picture then those in this article that I wish I had never seen.

  • saul

    Why don’t you cry about it, pussy.

  • jealousblues

    1) occurred at a domestic sporting event with tons of photographers and locals with cameras and phones
    2) the others occurred in the remote mountains of Afghanistan or in dangerous parts of Iraq.

    To me its no wonder the coverage is different

  • bedrockq

    You didn’t even include the worst one. The guy being hauled off with nothing but bone where his lower leg used to be.

    • Michael Shaw

      I know the reference is obscure, but that’s the “#8″ linked to in the first sentence of the post.

  • bystander

    Interesting to consider how these grisly photographs of The Boston juxtapose with the narrative of Michael Kamber’s experience as an embed. One wonders why the “privacy” of The Boston’s victims, or the “respect” they are due, are different than that of our soldiers in Iraq (or elsewhere). Or, why the availability of the photographs out of Boston aren’t propaganda for the person (or persons) who engineered the finish line bombs.

    Also, I’ll observe that at least one individual commenting here doesn’t exhibit much talent in reading comprehension. Good thing there are pictures. :-)

    • Brad Snyder

      Agreed. If an editor is going to make a decision to run an image of a grievously injured person–civilian or otherwise–I think there should be some broader purpose for further highlighting that trauma and distress. There didn’t seem to be any purpose behind these images beyond “look at how grisly the scene of a bombing can be.” I think the the rescuers running toward the scene and the zoomed-out shots of the aftermath provided more context and a better perspective than the narrow focus on blood and gore.

  • j.r.

    I think “sotted” means “drunk” – and its a flag-printed chair, not the actual flag.
    thats what happens when you stamp the flag on everything you own…

    • David

      And it’s not actually our flag. It’s either decorated with red white and blue and stars, or it’s a Union Jack. Yes – bloodstained or soiled would be more appropriate than sotted.

  • Fred

    I actually like the uncensored photos more. I do feel you should have to include “may contain graphic or objectionable material” but I think it’s better journalism It gets us out of our bubble and shows what really happens. I dislike how censored and how wrong our media can be. Just show and tell the truth please.

  • bystander

    Ah; and as regards that photo #8

    (Note: An earlier version of this gallery featured this photo with the graphic warning but without the image blurred. We have since decided to blur the subject’s face out of his respect for privacy.)

    So, we’re inching our way to a degree of consistency.

    To be clear. I’m one who stands as an “absolutist.” I think we need the full gory, grisly, graphic images out of our military incursions. What’s being done, is being done in my name and I want the full picture of how my elected government conducts its foreign policy…. not the politically whitewashed (blurred for piracy’s sake) version.

    • Michael Shaw

      I’m glad you staked out your position on this. If you remember, I took heat back in January for not posting a graphic warning on that post about the Somali al Qaeda faction. They posted the photo of a dead French soldier to Twitter and I, in illuminating the social media fusillade, reproduced it. I didn’t post a “warning” because I didn’t think the photo was that gory and also because, Bag being about the images, come what may, I felt there is less a need to warn the readership about what’s coming across the transom.

      Today though, maybe after all the castigation for not giving the Magnum photographer the chance to respond before critiquing his fudging of the truth, maybe I’m more of the mind to give the warning if just to eliminate it as a source of static/distraction from a more directed discussion of the content at hand.

      Anyway, here is the link to the Al Shabaab post. I held it out till the end not just for fair warning(!) but also because this post is experiencing record traffic today (that’s what happens when you hit the upper reaches of Reddit) and the site is going pretty slow, sometimes timing out.

      (By the way, if any of you had trouble accessing the site today, our apologies. We plan to step up to a dedicated server soon.)

  • geral sosbee

    USA is *war & terror ag/people of the world. This nation kills, tortures, imprisons at will to show superiority & to subjugate; some of us resist the macabre onslaught ag/humanity by fbi/cia/dod etc., yet all who live in denial of the threat to human life posed by the assassins of usa are most vulnerable because they trust this God forsaken gov beyond all reason, and because they benefit from the carnage perpetrated in their name.

    See my reports for data that indicts the law enforcement community in usa.



    World bewildered at USA war ethic:

    • undergraduate

      OK. Someone needs to flag this just in case, as remote as the possibility might be, that mr/ms sosbee should attempt to purchase a firearm, fireworks, or a pressure cooker.

  • tonii

    really sad ://

  • zack12345

    The Julie Jacobson photo in question was taken in Afghanistan in 2009; the subject of the photo is a dying Marine, not a soldier. Those errors just further demonstrate the whole point of this article I suppose.

  • porsillo

    I don’t think it is a question of what the government “wants” us to see as in the Boston photos. The fact is there is no practical way to stop it no matter how much the Obama-Cheney-Kristol Alliance may want to.

    Say what you want about our inchoate police state but that state can only envy the US Army’s control of the message at the front.

    • undergraduate

      I am quite sure that the “inchoate” police state is smirking, right now, gleeful that there are simpering idiots like you out there who will be exceedingly easy to manipulate into genuflecting gratitude for their benevolent protection.

  • Sąif MohaMd

    In Iraq we have alot of explosions and alot of die people, no one care, in here some explosions little people die the whole internet messed up with that, whats wrong with you people ?

    • undergraduate

      Uh, let me get this straight. You have a “nation” where bombings and slaughter are a daily occurrence. We have a bombing and are outraged and distraught and you think we’re messed up? I think the people who want to write off Iraqis as a lost cause are right.

  • The Carver

    Um, maybe the difference in the images is because the military cannot control a situ where there were literally hundreds of photogs on scene, as opposed to a war zone, where reporters are more regulated and controlled? And they don’t always arrive until much later?

  • Alla Lone

    Take a close look at the blood on the ground in these photos. No tails, no impact velocity, in most cases no footprints.

  • Lane Yarbrough

    We don’t want the American people to have their own opinion. No opinion is the best opinion. If they have one, it’s the one we allow them to have.

  • makesnosense

    your right Americans aren’t stupid …just ignorant…

  • escapification

    I’d like to call BS on your BS call that “americans don’t care.”
    choosing to not stay informed from reliable news sources is equivalent
    to not caring. Its very ignorant to simply relieve yourself of all blame by saying that you aren’t getting all of the facts from your media.

  • deancollins

    lol yep you are right…..bring the draft back in and you would have protest about overseas wars by the end of the week…… : )

  • deancollins

    So folks….probably too soon to ask this but… goes.

    I’m wondering why Americans are so appalled about Boston when the exact same thing happens many times a day in other countries around the world…..often caused by USA funded political issues.

    How many people were blown up in Syria yesterday (USA funded)
    How many people were blown up in Iraq yesterday (USA prolonged)
    How many people were blown up in Afghanistan yesterday (lol UK,Russian,USA supported/paid for/prolonged).

    Is it because they are brown people? Don’t they count too?

    What would you say to Obama if you had 5 minutes to discuss with him today?

    Where is the outrage in the street about what has been committed in your name overseas? Where are the protests on Pennsylvania avenue? When are we going to evolve?

  • Elliot Bartz

    Our political organization as a nation state (which has a very long history in western culture) causes us to feel the pain and death of our fellow countrymen much more intensely than otherwise. Not to mention our physical, dialectic and mental similarities to those suffering. I still can’t shake the feeling that this is what Obama’s drone counter-terrorism program has wrought. In the eyes of those who have lost families to predator missiles, the domestic reaction to this must seem surreal at least.

  • Brian Cotton

    No dummy, it’s because it’s on our home turf. Did you really not think about that? Of course there’s horrendous acts happening all over the world, many of which completely funded by the US which is horrible. It makes me sick how much damage we’ve done. But when we get hit in our home, and our people die, that’s a big deal. So for you to “wonder why Americans are so appalled by the bombings in Boston” is stupid. Americans are appalled because Americans died. For you to not grasp that almost invalidates any opinion you may try to offer, regardless of the truth behind your statements (which I agree with). Have a heart dude, Americans are good people, we care when terrible shit happens to us

  • Sickofbi*ches

    “often caused by USA funded political issues”…. Wow, what an opinion! Not only do we support our interests overseas, but we send aid to any country in need! Pull your head out. How about we cut off ALL funding outside of the US and see what kind of world we live in then… and let me guess, you would still live in this country then too, huh… idiot.

  • Dawn C Dawn


  • Dawn C Dawn


  • Chessolin

    Because things like this happen a lot more in some other countries like Iraq. It’s more rare in the US. Also it’s closer to home.

  • Bruce


  • bks3bks

    It was nonexistent in Iraq until Bush invaded.


  • Brad Snyder

    Get out the tin foil! We’re gonna make some hats!


    Shows how blind you are,

    Ask anyone from Iraq how they feel about the USA going in and taking over.

    Sadaam Hussein would gas chamber his own people. It was worse.

    You think suicide bombings started in 2001? NO! they happened all the time. Open your eyes, quit blaming Bush for everything. Its an evil world that is turning its head to God. Why is so much bad stuff happening? Its the end times.

  • Seamore Butts

    Okay… Then why isn’t the US doing anything about North Korea..? They dont want to get involved with NK because they have nothing to offer to us. The middle east is a gold mine filled with oil and other minerals… What do you say to that?

  • nobody

    take your god and shove him, plskthxbie

  • bks3bks

    Which of the 500,000 dead Iraqi civilians shall I ask?


  • dissentist

    Oh yeah Iraqis definitely supported us getting Saddam out of power, he was a tyrant to any non-Sunni in the country. I’m gonna guess they didn’t support it so much when WE PUT SADDAM IN POWER TO BEGIN WITH.. It ain’t your made up sky fairy, it’s the fact that religious idiots keep dragging us back to medieval times.

  • Jay

    Hmmm, Have you asked Iraqi Christians, sPANMAN? Since the US invasion, they have been subject to brutal ethnic cleansing in Iraq. Of the survivors, somewhere just under 1,000,000 of them have fled to surrounding countries, living in abject poverty and desolation. The US has done nothing for them. Have you asked *them* what they think of the US invasion of their country? Saddam Hussein was a bad man, OK, but was zero threat to the US, and the overall life of Iraqis is not better now. Different, but not better.

  • Jeff Flanagan

    Gods aren’t real. Try to not be superstitious.

  • Bluesdealer

    NK also has nukes, homie. And we wouldn’t intervene without UN backing.

    The whole reason Iraq happened was because Saddam was committing out of control, mass slaughter against helpless people in Kuwait with his air force. This is why the UN and USA intervened, created the first no-fly zone in history. It was an attempt to curb mass genocide without overly interfering with a sovereign ruler.

    Saddam ignored it. We invaded, forced Saddam to sign a treaty, then pulled out, still respecting him as the sovereign ruler of Iraq, despite the fact that he murdered his own people, including the ones that rebelled, expecting the invading NATO forces to rescue them. Then we spent over a decade occupying this zone, shooting down planes, as Saddam continued to completely ignore his treaty obligations and the no-fly zone. When reports of weapons of mass destruction emerged, Saddam repeatedly refused to allow inspectors in, which he was obligated to do under the treaty. We gave him chance after chance to do the right thing, but he refused.

    We were well within our rights to invade again, and depose this mass-murdering, renegade dictator.

  • SarahBJones

    I disagree. First, I don’t relieve myself of any blame, which is why I do the work that I do (though perhaps you were using the 2nd person plural general “you” in your second sentence). Second, how can one know where to go, if one is not taught how to think critically? If one is taught with shit textbooks about a reduced and nationalist story of the USA? If the biggest news channels are just moderate to right wing BS? This is like getting angry at a Frenchman for not understanding a book only published in a language he does not know. Blaming the individual is a very right-wing, neoliberal tendency. Unless that is something you’d like to espouse I’d recommend checkity checking yourself before you wreck yourself.

  • bystander

    Thanks for the reminder… I recall that exchange. But, heck, Michael. You take heat, when it isn’t even yours.

    Your site, so your call, but I’m ambivalent about the warnings. For example, no one in proximity at The Boston was afforded that luxury. Nor, were the comrades of our military. Nor, are those who escaped being “double-tapped” in Afghanistan, Pakistan, or Yemen.

    I so value my humanity that I want it all and always straight up.

  • dissentist

    We weren’t “within our rights”, we were cleaning up the mess we made in the first place. Might want to look up how Saddam ended up in power to begin with, and it may make a good deal more sense to you why Bush senior wanted so badly to defend Kuwait.. Also look up who the CIA director was when Saddam went in, it’s a funny story.

  • gasho

    This is a highly revisionist version of the story. Inspectors WERE in the country and they weren’t finding anything… this whole line about Saddam “refusing” so we had to go in is BULLSh*t. It was a lie then and it’s a lie now. Just because it happened more than a week ago doesn’t mean everyone’s forgotten that it was a WAR OF CHOICE perpetrated by BUSH and CHENEY.

  • dissentist

    You were doing so well in this comment till you decided to quote a shitty song from the 90’s!

  • SarahBJones

    You’re the sensitive one.

    Ice ice baby.

  • Mike

    What makes the life of an innocent in the United States more important than an innocent from any other country? A good person cares just as much for terrible shit happening to others, as well as, themselves. Also, your opinion is almost invalidated when you start your rebuttal with “No dummy”

  • Mike

    What makes the life of an innocent in the United States more important than an innocent from any other country? A good person cares just as much for terrible shit happening to others, as well as, themselves. Also, your opinion is almost invalidated when you start your rebuttal with “No dummy”

  • dark truth

    What are you, a moron? Donahue was taking off the air because GE and it’s war machine for hire to the gov’t wanted a war. This is american propaganda plain and simple

  • Zenjedi 99

    Hey dickhead, what are you trying to say? That no one in Pakistan has a camera? Even though they still blur out a lot of the gore from domestic attacks, the imperial media will show NONE of the atrocities committed in the name of ‘fighting terror’. Thanks to the destabilization caused by the corporate states of America and halliburtons war on Iraqi freedom, the SAME day as the Boston attack, bombings killed 50+ people in Iraq. No a mention of that in the imperial media either. 50+/3 and the world’s eyes are on boston. Tinfoil hat shit, the media now has NO reason to talk about the sequester and how fascists are taking control and plundering the nation. You keep following the bouncing ball doggie. Good boy!

  • richard head

    Why stop at calling it “propaganda”? Just admit you think the government set the bombs so they could take away your guns. And you call me a moron? Ha!

  • cr0ft – am I saying “the Government did it!”? No. But your categoric denial of the entire possibility is just naive.

  • Dawn C Dawn

    Richard, your a dumb ass!

  • bill

    Excellent point Jay. It never ceases to amaze me that apparent Right-Wing Christians like sMan seem to have a lot more loyalty to the Republican Party than they do to their Faith, or at least to their Christian Brethren in what used to be a safe-for-Christians Iraq. We didn’t just destroy Saddam’s regime, we destroyed the Christian religion in that country. Now maybe we brought other “freedoms” to that country, but we certainly destroyed the freedom of religion that Saddam had cultivated to his country’s benefit.

  • Dawn C Dawn

    That’s just a number you just made up!

  • bks3bks
  • deancollins

    Sure Dawn, not a problem, the fact that the USA is funding Syrian rebels has been widely written about.

    Does this mean i’m no longer an idiot :)

    I’m not saying the Syrian government is at fault BUT imagine if Texas decided to secede from the USA tomorrow and take all of its oil with it to a new country….do you think the USA wouldn’t send in the marines to protect its interests?

    Or worse how would you feel if Russia started funding the Klu Klux Klan with weapons and “logistical support” is the favorite euphemism i keep hearing American politicians use.

    At the end of the day the USA is spending my tax dollars to break up a country…..and as a tax payer I have an issue with them messing in a countries sovereign rights.

  • deancollins

    I agree the USA does a lot of good aid funding, just look at the work that Jimmy Carter is doing in Africa……but when it is spending its money for political aims….I have an issue with it.

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