The issue of whether the media should have access to Dover Air Force Base to view and photograph the ceremonies held when American war dead are returned to American soil has surfaced again.


    A recent report that President Barack Obama had signed an executive order allowing hundreds of thousands of refugees from the Gaza Strip into the United States upset a lot of people.

    I received notice of this executive order through two sources, one a mass email that managed to worm its way past my computer’s spam filters and another from a distant cousin who tends to send me such things.

    Cousin Walter also has sent me emails where he condemned such things at the design of the bicentennial Lincoln penny and the threat by the French government several years ago to disinter American soldiers buried on its soil and send them home.

    Of course, all of the above is nonsense: the latter had its roots in a 2003 story about vandals who defaced a British cemetery in France but was morphed into something entirely different back when the French refused to support the war against Iraq. Remember “freedom fries”?

    People across the nation are supposedly incensed the words “In God We Trust” are not included in the new designs on the back of the penny. That’s true, but the words are — and have been for years — on the front or obverse side, right above Lincoln’s head. That’s where they’ll remain, according to the U.S. Mint.

    The business about Barack Obama allowing a cult of suicide bombers into the U.S. also is based on a story that has been twisted into something entirely unrelated to the actual event. A look at the presidential determination, available at www.the federalregister.com/d.p/2009-02-04-E9-2488, shows Obama authorized the release of $20.3 million under a 1962 act to provide emergency assistance “related to humanitarian needs of Palestinian refugees and conflict victims in Gaza.”

    President George W. Bush used the same authority during his presidency to help other people affected by war. There’s nothing that authorizes immigration of these refugees to the United States.

    But some people would have others think that is the case. Most probably are like cousin Walter, who worry about the security of this nation and pass them on, with all good intentions.

    However, it’s patently obvious some of these stories are simply made up, and used as a tool to frighten a populace the instigators know will simply take their falsehoods at face value.

    It’s an ugly situation, and it’s used by those on the right and on the left to spread distrust through outright manipulation of public opinion. And it is easy to fight if people don’t take any stories at face value and bother to do a little research.

    I think cousin Walter has learned a bit from the past. At least this time, when he sent me the email about Obama’s presidential determination, he asked, “Do you think this is true?”

    ****

    The issue of whether the media should have access to Dover Air Force Base to view and photograph the ceremonies held when American war dead are returned to American soil has surfaced again. It comes on the heels of President Obama’s statement he’ll look into reconsidering the ban on such coverage that has been in effect since the early 1990s.

    As both a military retiree and a journalist, I think I can see both sides of the problem. As detailed in this column last year, the only obvious solution to this question, where there are legitimate concerns both for and against the idea, is to allow the families of our honored dead to make that very important and very difficult decision.

    If the Obama administration decides to make a change in the current policy, that seems to be the best way.

    ****

    And kudos to Dover Post publisher emeritus Jim Flood Sr. for his recent selection to the Maryland-Delaware-DC Press Association’s Hall of Fame.

    Mr. Flood already had a distinguished background in journalism and government when he and some local investors founded the Post in 1975. He and his family worked hard and in some years barely scraped by to make the Post a respected voice of the people in central Delaware.

    Although we don’t see him on a daily basis any more, his presence still is felt in our offices and throughout the county, both through his involvement in local affairs and his weekly column, “From a Window Overlooking the St. Jones.”

    Mr. Flood’s naming to the Hall of Fame is a fitting tribute to a man who has poured heart and soul into the journalism business.

Email Jeff Brown at jeff.brown@doverpost.com.