The agreement journalists must sign to become embedded with a military unit in Afghanistan now includes a prohibition against any photographic or video coverage of U.S. troops killed in action, according to a copy of the latest agreement.
As recently as July, the ground rules journalists agreed to in order to receive a media badge at Regional Command East stated that "media will not be prohibited from covering casualties" as long as the images were not released prior to Department of Defense officials notifying the service member’s next of kin.
A new version of ground rules released in September states that "media will not be allowed to photograph or record video of U.S. personnel killed in action" and can only publish written reports of casualties after a DOD announcement has been made.
The debate over the publication of photographs of troops killed in action was reignited in September when the Associated Press published a picture of a fatally wounded Marine. Secretary of Defense Robert Gates wrote a letter of protest to AP President Tom Curley about the photo, and the new policy was released soon afterward.