The Plain Dealer published a statement from the Army, a response from our executive editor and a biography of photographer Ronald L. Haeberlef with the My Lai photographs on Nov. 20, 1969. They follow:
Don’t Use Photos, Army Urges
After learning that The Plain Dealer would print an eyewitness account of what happened at My Lai with pictures taken there, Col. Robert M. Lathrop, staff judge advocate, U.S. Army, Ft. Benning, Ga., conveyed the following statement by telephone to The Plain Dealer.
“The position of the Department of the Army is that the publication of those photographs will be considered to be prejudicial to the rights of individuals either charged or to be charged with illegal conduct in connection with the alleged murders, whether or not the photographs actually do portray scenes relative to the present inquiry.
“The Army trusts that The Plain Dealer will refrain from publication of material that will prejudice the administration of justice. The Army is prohibited by fair trial considerations from commenting on whether any items including photographs might possibly be evidence.”
Plain Dealer Reply
Editors of The Plain Dealer are fully conscious of their responsibilities in judging what is proper to publish in connection with alleged criminal actions. This newspaper is determined to protect not only the constitutional rights of individuals but also the constitutional rights of the public.
It is the judgment of the editors that publication of photographs accompanying this article does not prejudice any individual’s rights and further that Plain Dealer readers are entitled to see them for what they are purported to be by the man who gave them to The Plain Dealer for publication: Photographs taken at a village in Vietnam.
William M. Ware
Who are the two parties involved in this newspaper excerpt?
What issue are the two parties addressing in this excerpt?
Why does the United States Army want the newspaper to refrain from publishing the photos?
How might the Army’s request affect public opinion of the United States military?
Do you think that publishing the photos could affect the court martial case? Explain why or why not.