Friday, April 23, 2004

Too Good to be True

When the story first got out about the picture of the caskets being loaded into a plane at Dover AFB, I was glad. I think it's important for those pictures to come out. They remind and inspire.

The story was that a woman who worked for the airplane maintenance company was so moved by the scene of three long rows of flag-draped caskets, she took a picture and sent it to a good friend of hers. The Pentagon decided just before the Gulf War to stop releasing pictures. She knew it was against her contract and could get her fired, but was moved enough to flout the law for a greater good.

Her friend in Seattle got the pic and was similarly moved, she said. So much so, she sent the pic to the local paper, which printed it. And within days, that pic travelled around the world. The photographer, Tami Silicio, was fired.

I saw the friend on NBC's Today show this morning. All they talked about was what you read above. There was nothing else. It was all vaguely patriotic in an anti-government kind of way, except one thing that stood out.

The friend said she thought it unfair that the government had decided for the families of the dead soldiers whether they could release the photos. Yet this woman made a decision herself, for all the families, to release her picture knowing it would be published. But Katie Couric didn't pursue that and the story made it all look good and above board.

Or so goes the story.

Turns out there's a darker side indeed and motives might have been far less than pure. I'm not talking about the friend now having an agent sell publication rights to the photo for $1400. Nor how the photographer somehow knew to sign over the rights to her friend. No.

It turns out that the two women, Amy Katz (the friend) and Tami Silicio (the photographer), had sued Dick cheney and Halliburton for discrimination in 2000! They worked for Halliburton in Kosovo. When Katz went to use a port-a-potty, she found it guarded by an Albanian. he said that two of the toilets were for ethnic Albanians and the other two were for Americans. Katz was outraged and refused to use the "American" johns, but the Albanian guard wouldn't let her use the "Albanian" ones, saying it was against their Muslim faith for men and women to use the same facilities. Katz filed an EEOC complaint.

You can read a longer and more detailed account (minus the religious explanation) here. It's an awfully designed webpage, so stop the loading after you see text and do a "find in page" on "Katz."

So now we have the spectre of anti-Bush / Cheney-Halliburton / "It's the oooooiiiiil." leftist anti-war activism coming into play. Was this simple patriotism or was there a second dirtier agenda working? Now we'll never know for sure.

You can read more on the breaking story at FreeRepublic or at NewsMax.

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