The whole picture

I mostly avoided the hearing today, but tuned in to C-SPAN's video stream just long enough to catch this brief segment in which Senator James Inhope argues that "if pictures are authorized to be disseminated among the public, then for veery picture of abuse or alleged abuse of prisoners, we [should] have pictures of mass graves, pictures of children being executed, pictures of the four Americans in Baghdad who were burned and mutilated." He concludes: "Let's get the whole picture."

Absolutely. The notion of authorized dissemination is problematic, though. In the transparent society that we are becoming, the whole picture most certainly is developing. The Net is a force of nature. It superconducts information and superdistributes awareness.

Of course the military, like every enterprise, is entitled to try to control the terms on which its employees can engage with the Net. So the Seattle Times reports that Tami Silicio, who gave us another piece of the picture, was fired for violating the Pentagon ban on pictures of flag-draped coffins. Likewise, Seattle's other paper, the Post-Intelligencer, reported last fall that Michael Hanscom was fired for his pictures of G5 Macs on a loading dock at Microsoft. Fair enough. In a similar position of responsibility, I'd have to make similar choices. But let's be clear: the whole picture, by definition, cannot be authorized.

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