NEW ORLEANS, Sept 6 (Reuters) – The U.S. government agency leading the rescue efforts after Hurricane Katrina said on Tuesday it does not want the news media to take photographs of the dead as they are recovered from the flooded New Orleans area.
The Federal Emergency Management Agency, heavily criticized for its slow response to the devastation caused by the hurricane, rejected requests from journalists to accompany rescue boats as they went out to search for storm victims. An agency spokeswoman said space was needed on the rescue boats and that “the recovery of the victims is being treated with dignity and the utmost respect.” “We have requested that no photographs of the deceased be made by the media,” the spokeswoman said in an e-mailed response to a Reuters inquiry. The Bush administration also has prevented the news media from photographing flag-draped caskets of U.S. soldiers killed in Iraq, which has sparked criticism that the government is trying to block images that put the war in a bad light. The White House is under fire for its handling of the relief effort, which many officials have charged was slow and bureacratic, contributing to the death and mayhem in New Orleans after the storm struck on Aug. 29. (Additional reporting by Deborah Charles