By Ann Scott Tyson
Washington Post Staff Writer
Thursday, February 26, 2009; 2:12 PM
Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates announced today that he is lifting a 1991 ban on news coverage of the return of the remains of fallen service members to Dover Air Force Base in Delaware, although he will leave the decision about press coverage up to the family of the dead.
The controversial ban on photography and other media coverage of the solemn return of flag-draped coffins -- upheld by both Republican and Democratic administrations -- has generated lawsuits as well as conflicting emotions on the part of military familiies.
Gates said he is asking a group of advisers to come up with a plan on how to implement the new policy.
President George H.W. Bush's administration imposed the ban on media coverage of the arrival of fallen troops' remains at Dover Air Force Base during the Gulf War in February 1991. It came about after a controversy arose when Bush held a news conference at the same moment the first U.S. casualties were returning to Dover the day after the U.S. invasion of Panama in 1989, and three television networks carried the events live on split screen, with Bush appearing at one point to joke while on the opposite screen the solemn ceremony unfolded at the Delaware base.
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