John Cusack appeared on the June 15 edition of "The Early Show" to discuss his new movie "1408." At the very end, host Russ Mitchell brought up his upcoming film "Grace is Gone." Cusack claimed the film is about Iraq and "some of the issues the families have when the coffins come home because...the Bush administration banned photos of the dead," which Cusack believes is a "very egregious political act."
RUSS MITCHELL: You’ve got a movie coming out later this year, "Grace is Gone," that you're very proud about, very proud of.
JOHN CUSACK: I produced a film called "Grace is Gone" coming out about -- it's about the Iraq conflict and some of the issues that the families have when the coffins come home because, you know, the Bush administration banned photos of the dead. So I thought that was a very egregious political act –
MITCHELL: John, we gotta go. More politics later. Thanks a lot for joining us. We do appreciate it.
If only Cusack would get his facts straight. The ban against photographing coffins was set by the first Bush administration in 1991 and upheld by the succeeding Clinton administration. The ban was prompted by a press conference former President Bush in December of 1989. ABC, CBS, and CNN ran a split screen of Bush and the arrival of coffins from Operation Just Cause in Panama. The late Peter Jennings made the following statement.
"We apologize for interrupting. He is saying we do not know how many Panamanians have been killed. The first of the American military casualties are returning to Dover, Delaware, the first four bodies of U.S. service men killed in Panama arriving in Delaware. And, as we listen to the president, we keep them in mind."
A few weeks later, in January of 1990, President Bush issued the following statement.
"Let me do something in conclusion that may be a little risky, and it's a housekeeping detail. And it relates mainly to television.
"I got a lot of mail after the last press conference. I had some calls. Because when I was speaking here in this room, juxtaposed against my frivolous comments at the time were some - a split-screen technique that showed American lives - the bodies of dead soldiers in the caskets - of dead soldiers coming home.
"And all I would respectfully request that if the urgency of the moment is such that that technique is going to be used, if I could be told about it and we'll stop the proceedings. Or it, it's something less traumatic.
"But that one - I could understand why the viewers were, were concerned about this. They thought their President, at a solemn moment like that, didn't give a damn.
"And I do. I do. I feel it so strongly. So please help me with that if you would. Thank you all very much."